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					    Christmas Newsletter 2010
  Follow a Star                                   Mount Seymour United Church
                                                       Inclusive, Inquisitive, Involved
  A Message from                                   1200 Parkgate Ave., North Vancouver, BC
  our Minister

A wise person recently said to me ―change-              but right in front of my face as I stood staring at
management is an oxymoron… You cannot                   that poster full of pictures. It makes me wonder
manage change.‖ In the words we use in Godly            how often Christ does come in my life, or in the
Play with our children, the season of Advent is         world, in the form of light in dark places, people
the time we prepare to enter the mystery of             in need, in unexpected grace and wisdom that
Christmas. It could be said that mystery-               changes our lives for the better. How often do I
management is also an oxymoron. We cannot               completely miss the moment and the mystery?
manage mystery.
                                                        Our theme for worship this Advent is ―Follow a
The bible readings traditionally used in churches       Star.‖ Throughout the season we will explore
during the season of Advent, the four weeks that        this theme to keep us on an intentional path of
lead to Christmas, include many that suggest the        watching and waiting for those places and
―Son of Man‖ meaning Jesus, will come when we           experiences in which the coming of the Christ
least expect it, like a thief in the night. It’s not    child is most likely to be experienced. Those
the most comforting imagery, but that’s not its         places, as described in the bible will most likely
purpose. The language is meant to invite us to be       be in places where the lowly are lifted up and
prepared, to be awake and at the ready to               the hungry are fed, where peace is found and
experience the mystery of Christ’s coming at any        joy springs forth. Following a star, we hope, will
time, in any place. It’s language that begs the         open us to mystery that cannot be managed, but
question, how do we prepare to be surprised?            can be missed.
And, what does it mean for Christ to come               Advent Blessings,
anyway?                                                 Nancy

I only remember being completely caught off               Follow a Star this Christmas…
guard once in my life. I was 16 years old and                     Sunday Services @ 10 am
heading off to party in the next town for a friend      with Childrens’programming and nursery care
that was leaving the country on a student
exchange. Before we left town, my date drove by        Events
a mutual friend’s house and said he had to pick        Nov. 27 9:30 am Advent Spiritual Retreat
something up. I volunteered to go to the door.         Nov. 28 4:30 pm All Ages Advent Event
When the door opened the first thing I saw was a       Nov. 29 7 pm Camino de Santiago Presentation
large poster full of pictures of me. I was             Dec. 5  2 pm    North Shore Chorus Concert
perplexed and couldn’t figure out what was going       Dec. 11 11 am Turkey Lunch & Bake Sale
on. Then 30 of my own friends jumped out from                  7 pm    Singspiration Concert
behind couches and walls yelling surprise!             Dec. 12 7:30 pm MSUC Choir(s) Concert
Without my knowing, they had planned a party to        Dec. 19 12 pm Flash Caroling at Parkgate
send me off on a student exchange I was going          Dec. 20 7 pm    Blue Christmas Service
on. It was a total surprise.
                                                       Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Services
The thing that remains with me from that                    4 pm    Families with young children
experience is how completely unaware I was of               7 pm    All Ages ~ Christmas Pageant
what was going on not just right under my nose,             10 pm Candlelight and Communion
Page 2 of 8                                         Advent                                  Christmas 2010
  Page 2 of 4
                                            POTLUCK DINNER AND ADVENT WREATH MAKING
                                            NOVEMBER 28 AT 4:30 PM
                                            Prepare for advent at this all ages gathering. Bring your family and
                                            friends and a food dish for the Potluck Dinner.
                                            Sign up at the Action Table or email the office (
                                            (If you have your green advent wreath base from last year. Please
                                            write your name on it for re-use, by you. Bring it to the Office. Then
                                            all you pay for are new candles.(more environmentally friendly too!)

                                            SPIRITUAL RETREAT - SAT., NOV. 27 ~ 9:30 AM TO 1 PM
                                            Join Rev. Nancy as she leads a 1/2 day retreat to prepare your soul
                                            for the season of Advent. The theme of the retreat is ―The Star in my
                                            Heart‖. It will be a time to spiritually prepare for Christmas. Sign up
                                            at the Action Table or email The cost is $20,
                                            includes lunch and can be paid the day of the event.

“First Star I See Tonight”                              Follow a Star ~ Sundays in Advent
Mount Seymour’s Christmas Pageant 2010
                                                        Nov. 28: Starry Night: With hope we seek a star and
                                                        walk in the Light of God
                                                        Dec.5: Signs in the Stars: In times of darkness we
                                                        find peace through the signposts that remind us we
                                                        are not alone
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll ponder the true
meaning of Christmas. Come witness the chaos            Dec. 12: First Star I See Tonight: We celebrate
and wonder that unfolds when a modern family            every life as the Christ Child
literally becomes the Christmas story! Be               Dec. 19: Shine for All to See: The love of God flows
careful what you wish for, on the first star you        through us to the world
see tonight, because it just might come true…
Join us for one or both of our performances:
December 12 at 10AM                                               Advent Candle Lighting
December 24 at 7PM                                                  (to use with your wreath)
                                                      Each week as you light the candle you are invited to say
All Ages Christmas Pageant                            these words:
Thank you to everyone who has signed                  Living Christ, light of the world, give us the warmth of
up to be a part of our Pageant this year!             your love and the promise of your (hope, peace, joy or
If you haven’t submitted a form, but your             love). Fill us with joyful expectation and help us to share
children would like to be a part of the group         peace with one another and care for our world. Amen.
performances, it’s not too late -- Please bring       For each week, ponder or share with family and friends the
them to church on Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, so that         places you see (hope, peace, joy or love) growing in your
they can rehearse with us during the regular          own life or in the world.
Children’s program time.
                                                      On December 25th light a candle to represent the birth of
If you’re creative or you like to shop, please        Jesus, who we call the light of the world. As you light the
volunteer to help with our costumes and props. If     candle say these words:
you’d prefer to assist behind the scenes, we’d        Living Christ, light of the world, we give thanks for your
love to have you on board as a stage assistant!       coming long ago and still today bringing hope, peace, joy
                                                      and love. Help us to live the Christmas story of goodwill
Contact Bethel at (778) 887-1036 or                   in all we do and all we are. Amen.
Christmas 2010                              Council News                                           Page 3 of 8

Update on Music Minister Search
On December 31st Brian Tate will officially finish his tenure with us as Music
Minister. We will be very sad to see Brian go. In his time with us he has
helped us become a congregation that sings with joy and enthusiasm. Under
his capable leadership, both the Joyful Noise and Community Gospel Choirs
have delivered uplifting and moving music ministry. What rich blessings we
have received.
A search committee has been formed to search for a new Music Minister.
Members are Jen-Beth Fulton, Mary Sparks, Pandora Furniss, Olivia Santa-
Croce, Anna Ashbourne-Bruder and Bryan Ralph. Their work will begin with
an evaluation of the current music program early in the new year.

In the meantime, our plan is to make an interim appointment from January 1
to June 30. Our purpose in making an interim appointment is to ensure that
we have time to carry out a careful search for a new music director. We
hope to announce that appointment in the very near future.

There will be a farewell party for Brian early in the new year; watch the
Sunday bulletin for details.                                  educate ourselves on what resources we will need to
A Message from our Council Chair                              continue our operations. At the end of the program
                                                              we invited people to intentionally consider how they
By Judy Ashbourne                                             could support our day to day operations. People
                                                              responded by increasing their givings where
The message of the advent season - to be prepared,            possible, giving through PAR and pledging their
to be awake and at the ready – is a most appropriate          time. Over the years, we have learned that it takes
message for our church community as we move                   vast reserves of energy, imagination, creativity – and
forward in today’s world. At the most recent event of         funds – to maintain a vibrant church. Mark Devries
the Emerging Spirit initiative ―Stepping Further Out –        tells us in his book "Sustainable Youth Ministry" that
Facing the Future‖ this fall UC leaders Keith Howard          to maintain and grow a vibrant children and youth
and Rob Dalgleish spoke of the many challenges and            ministry, without burning out the
changes that modern day church communities must               leadership, requires the energy and support of one
be prepared to meet. Both speakers encouraged                 volunteer for every 5 children, a full-time staff
congregations to better understand their own purpose          person for every 30 children and between $1,000
as well as the realities of the world in which they           and $1,500 per year for every child. Research
exist today.                                                  during the Daily Bread program informed us that it
                                                              costs $894.16 per day to run MSU.
In 2008 MSUC embarked on a bold campaign to better
understand our purpose and engage more fully in our           Now that the campaign is nearing its official end, we
community. At the outset of our "Something's                  know that we have our work cut out for us, but we
Happening Here" campaign we developed a vision that           are prepared for the hard work. We know that our
over the next three years we began to fulfill.                congregation cares about the people and programs
Together we raised the $500,000 we projected was              at MSU. Others see that "Something's Happening
needed to meet the goals of enhancing our music               Here". When the General Council of the UCC
program, building our children and youth programs,            recognized that many churches require relief from
fixing our building, supporting our staff, staffing for       the burden VIM loans place on growth as well as
the future and connecting with our community. We              everyday operations, they, as well as the local
have undertaken many capital improvements,                    Presbytery and BC Conference, all noted that MSUC
supported Nancy in taking a well earned sabbatical,           was a perfect candidate because of our daring plan
developed a vastly improved website and our major             to become a church that is fully alive. I look
outreach initiative on the north shore is now                 forward to the new year as we continue to explore
operational. And along the way we built stronger              together how to become an increasingly vibrant and
relationships with each other.                                relevant presence in our community. I wish
                                                              everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and
Last fall, as we neared the final phase of our                vibrant New Year!
campaign, we put in place the Daily Bread program to
Page 4 of 8                                  Outreach                              Christmas 2010

             Meet Barbara Ralph                                        The Giving Tree
            Thrift Shop Volunteer
                                                                              During Advent our Giving
                                                                              Tree will be in the
                                                                              sanctuary and will be used
                                                                              to receive donations of
                                                                              socks, sweat suits,
                                                         underwear, gloves, razors, shaving supplies,
                                                         soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo.
                                                         We will deliver these to First United Church and
                                                         Lookout Shelter on the North Shore. Look for
                                                         the tree on Nov. 28th!

                                                         Need help with your Christmas
How long have you worked in the Thrift Shop?             shopping?
I started about nine years ago.
                                                         The Mission and Outreach Team have some
What do you do there?                                    suggestions for those of you who have to shop for
I help mostly with the pricing of donated goods and      someone that has everything.
with the turnaround of seasonal stock that happens       Or like many of us who would like to cut back on
4 times a year.                                          consumerism, we encourage you to give a gift
                                                         that keeps on giving.
What do you find most rewarding about your
work?                                                    We will have gift-giving envelopes ready for your
I am pleased that we are able to sell very reasonably    donation to:
priced goods to people who really appreciate them.       The United Church Mission and Service Fund
                                                         First United Church in the downtown eastside
I also have the opportunity to pass on goods that we     North Shore Lookout Shelter
are unable to sell to a group of new South American      Ten Thousands Villages
immigrants in New Westminster. Just recently I
delivered a television to a single mom with 5            Your gift, in someone’s name, will help so many
children from Guatemala. She burst into tears of         people that may have very little, or nothing, at
happiness and said she had never expected to own a       Christmas. Check out the website links for more
television in her lifetime.                              information on these organizations.

It is wonderful to see the difference the Thrift Shop
makes in people’s lives.                                 Frail Elderly Bus Program
                                                         Our Campaign Outreach Project is up and running
Thanks to Barbara and the many volunteers that help      in partnership with Parkgate Community
out in the Thrift Shop during the year. We always need   Services. Check out the article in the North Shore
volunteers to sort and price goods during the week and   News on our website or on the bulletin board.
to set up/take down and sell on Thursdays. Contact
Gladys (604)929-2917 if you can help.                    Volunteers are needed to meet the participants
                                                         at the mall and assist them with shopping.
                                                         Training for volunteers will be done by Parkgate
                                                         Community Services. Contact Erin Smith at
                                                         (604)983-6376 or to
                            For more alternate           volunteer. For more information, talk to
                            ways of celebrating          someone on the Outreach Team or call Joyce
                            and giving this              Jones at (604)987-0168.
                            Christmas, check out...
Our Thrift Shop has raised $55,188 year-to-date for
First United and our church.www.buynothingchrist
                             Thanks to the over 60       Thanks to the Outreach Team for getting this
volunteers that help out in the Thrift Shop during       project off the ground and running!
the year. We always need volunteers to sort and
price goods during the week and to set up/take
down and sell on Thursdays. Contact Gladys
(604)929-1917 if you can help.
Christmas 2010                               Study Groups                                 Page 5 of 8

 Living the Questions2
                                                           this mystery may just be the new challenge of an
 Reflection                                                educated and thinking Christian.
 By James Fulton
                                                           As an engineer, with a scientific predisposition to
      [Bible study ?? Who me?? No way!!                    worshipping at the alter of scientific, provable fact
          I’m spiritual, not religious!]                   and a love of mystery - especially those mysteries
                                                           which have to come to a logical conclusion, in a set
 Last night, we ended LTQ with the session 21              amount of time or effort, this is quite a tall order.
entitled ―Embracing Mystery” which also advised            Over time, it seems, we naturally delude ourselves
that the ―Mystery” refers to something                     into concluding that all mystery has to be solved
unexplainable and beyond comprehension: in other           instead of embraced as we are now being asked. What
words, it is beyond humankind’s ability to see and         a relief, after a lifetime of having to suspend my
define. Wow!                                               belief in so many things holy to no longer have to try
                                                           and resolve logically the more puzzling of
Almost one year ago and some 52 session hours              Christianity’s many, many conundrums.
earlier, LTQ, Chapter 1 had invited us on “An
Invitation to Journey” opening with a quotation by         Over this last year our diverse group of between 10
Robert Louis Stevenson that “To travel hopefully is        and 20, including a number of our friends from St.
a better thing than to arrive” and concluded with a        Clare in the Cove have met regularly, expressed open
quotation by Harold Beck that “Asking questions for        and vulnerable ideas in a caring, comfortable and
which there are no answers is the beginning of             trusting environment, so very capably led by Nancy
wisdom.”                                                   and Wade. My own apprehension at sharing my faith
                                                           beliefs for the first time with others in a group
On this basis our group could certainly be considered      instantaneously evaporated in creation of an
inquisitive but, have we become wise[r]??                  environment where we explored new thoughts about
                                                           Christianity without being given all the answers or
Could it be that after a year of striving to find a        being told what we have to believe.
clean and simple answer to The Complete Theory of
Everything, I am now instructed that it is mystical,        To be able to share with our group the collective
unexplainable and beyond anyone’s ability to see           theological wisdom and thought of 30 of our leading
and define, apparently returning me to my starting         religious voices at the forefront of a new emerging
point. Moreover, we are also called to a far greater       Christianity is a privilege beyond measure.
faith to seek and to trust that which we accept as
infinite, beyond our comprehension and subject to          What an incredible challenge our leadership faces in
change: and also that to retain a faith in the face of     ministering successfully to the huge diversity of
                                                           opinion this new exploration creates.

                                                           Perhaps the greatest gift to me, after a lifetime of
 The Nearly Legendary                                      supposedly heretical thought was to realize that those
 Men’s Turkey Lunch                                        voices of greater theological minds than mine had
                                                           shared similar questions to mine without diminution of
 and Bake Sale                                             their relationship with their God
 Dec. 11 ~ 11am –1 pm
                                                           To paraphrase one of the greatest scientists of all
 Don’t miss this lunch cooked                              time:
 and served by the men in our
 congregation. Bring your friends and family!               ―The most beautiful and profound emotion we can
 Contact Alan Furniss (604-929-4585) if you can help        experience is the sensation of the Mystical. It is the
 with the lunch and/or cook a turkey.                       sower of all true science.‖ He or she to whom this
                                                            emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and
 Donations of home baking and preserves are needed.         stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.‖
 You can sign up at the Action Table or email the office    Albert Einstein
 to donate baking. They can be dropped off at the
                                                           Our longing to be connected to Mystery connects us to
 kitchen on Friday, Dec. 10 from 9 am – 7 pm. Contact
                                                           one another and the hope for a world renewed.
 Doreen at (604)929-3561 to help.
                                                           May it be so.
 Page 6 of 8                                       Events                              Christmas 2010

                                                         A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago
                                                         Presentation – Monday, Nov. 29 from 7-8:30 pm

                         Sept. 17-18, 2010

Workshop was Amazing…
The sacred gifts workshop was very exciting and          In May this year, Allison Rennie and Diane Ransom
interesting. I would recommend it to anyone of any       walked 500 km on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient
age. Discovering your sacred gifts and finding new       pilgrimage route across northern Spain. Join them for
opportunities in your life can be very eye-opening.      an evening of images, sound and prayer as they share
Many of us have sacred gifts that we don’t even          stories from their life-changing journey. Over
realize we have. Many of us have more than one           200,000 pilgrims walked this trail in 2010. Allison
gift at the same time. Many of us discovered             and Diane have offered their empowering leadership
reasons that we were unhappy with ―dream‖ jobs.          and passion for creating community in the United
It was especially helpful to me, a 15 year old,          Church and other settings for more than 25 years.
because I realized early on what gifts I had, so that
I could follow the path of my gifts.

The workshop itself was just as amazing as the
results. Many people, from all walks of life showed
up - 15 year olds to grandmothers. There was
something there for everyone. Many were unhappy
with their current jobs, or parts of their life.
Others, like me, were simply curious to know what
it was all about. Everyone went away with
something; knowledge of their gifts, a new
understanding of their life, and even plans to use
their gifts in the future.
                                                                     Eye Care Mission
This is one workshop everyone can use.                            Philippines – Nov. 2010
Submitted Olivia Santacroce

About 30 people (20 from our congregation)
gathered on a Friday night and all day Saturday to
participate this workshop led by Monique
MacDonald (

We learnt about 24 biblically based sacred gifts
and how to recognize and appreciate them in
ourselves and others. We made a plan on how to
use our gifts and looked at the blocks that keep us
from following through. Contact Kathryn in the              Kathy McKay, church member and TWEC volunteer,
office if you are interested in exploring your                 performs an eye test in Barangay Santa Rita.
scared gifts.
                                                        TWEC (Third World Eye Care) volunteers brought 12,000
                                                        pairs of donated glasses and performed over 1,600 eye
                                                        tests on their first three days. Kathy sends a great big
                                                        thank-you from the indigenous Aetas for the clothes she
                                                        brought from our "Treasures Thrift Shop." Find out more
                                                        about the mission at
  Christmas 2010 United Church
   Mount Seymour                                                                     Page 7 of 8
                                                                                       Page 7
   of 7
    Thoughts from EVOLVE 2010                                    BLUE CHRISTMAS SERVICE
       Youth Conference – Nov. 11-14                             Monday, Dec. 20th at 7 pm

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a teenager,
                                                        Rev. Nancy and Music Minister Brian Tate will
but when I witnessed 4 straight days of 200 youth
bursting with energy in every song, dance, and          offer a service for those for whom Christmas is
spiritual practice they embodied, I realized just how   not an easy time. If you are grieving the loss of a
aged I had become.                                      loved one, struggling with an illness of the body,
                                                        mind or spirit, overwhelmed with the pain and
I was given the privilege of accompanying 3 of our      suffering of our world, or simply finding it
youth to the Evolve Conference in Naramata where        difficult to cope with the season, this service is
we were embraced into a community of youth, young       for you. If this is not your personal need, you
adults, and youth leaders who gathered together to      might consider whom you might accompany or
celebrate, build relationships, and be nurtured.        invite to attend. The service will be a gentle
                                                        time of singing, ritual and prayer with ample
I thought that I was supposed to be a ―leader‖ during   time to hold before God those people, places
this time, but I was mistaken. The passion for God      and concerns that weigh heavily on our hearts.
and one another flowing out of these bright-eyed        Please join us for what will surely be a time of
youth was what inspired and guided me throughout        rich blessing.
the weekend – their joy was infectious. May the
Church be infused with such enthusiasm and delight,
now and in the year awaiting just around the corner~

Submitted by Bethel, Family & Children Minister

                Falling Star
                                                             CHRISTMAS CHOIR CONCERT
                       Do you remember still the
                       falling stars that like swift
                                                              DECEMBER 12th at 7:30 PM
                       horses through the heavens
                       raced and suddenly leaped          This annual event will feature several
                       across the hurdles of our          choirs: Joyful Noise, the MSUC
                       wishes--do you recall?             Community Gospel Choir, the Youth
                       And we did make so many!           Choir, and the Children's Choir. The
For there were countless numbers of stars:                concert will also feature Christmas-carol
each time we looked above we were astounded by            sing-a-longs—come with friends,
the swiftness of their daring play,                       families, and strangers—it’ll be a fun and
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure               festive time for all!
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.
                                ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
  Mount Seymour United Church                                                              Page 8 of 8

The SpiritFusion Curriculum                                 blessed with very skilled facilitators and many in
                                                            the group regularly worship and learn together.
Writing Experience                                          You might ask how someone, particularly from as
By Jen-Beth Fulton                                          far away as Australia, had chosen our Community
                                                            of Faith to assist them in the creation of this
The first weekend of October at Mount Seymour               material. This was partly due to our very striking
United Church was spent by varying sized groups from        Website and what it tells about our ―Experiencing
about ten to twenty people helping the Seasons of the       the Sacred in Community.‖ As well as the word of
Spirit Curriculum editing and writing team, Susan Burt,     mouth value placed on Nancy’s leadership of
Australia, Diana Scorer, Bowen Island, Keri Wehlander,      courage and integrity. Every participant, affirmed
Penticton and Cathy Talbot, Vancouver Island, to            the value of gathering together in this way to
create intergenerational worship and study sessions for     study and work with Scripture in the context of our
the 2012 Northern Hemisphere Fall Season.                   lives together, our yearning for experiencing the
                                                            Sacred in Community, and the challenges of life in
The ―intent‖ for the weekend was to ―break open‖ 12         the 21st Century. What a privilege.
focus texts with up to three supporting texts from the
international liturgical readings, ―in a fresh and          The Team joined us in worship on Sunday Oct 3rd.
meaningful way for 21st century audiences, through          and they expressed their feelings of joy and
listening for God’s voice in the voices of one another,     appreciation for the inclusivity of children and all
the voice within, and the voice of the wider                that took place that day in the context of rich
community; to leave with weekly themes identified,          worship experience for the Community as a whole.
and kernels for creative, inclusive, inspirational
worship, learning and serving opportunities for
congregational life‖ This was all done through a
process of hearing, wondering and imagining.
Hopefully, experiencing through this work the                      MSUC’s First Ever
―transforming nature of the story‖
                                                                    FLASH Caroling
The first text we considered, and wrestled with, was           Sunday, Dec. 19 at 12 pm
Mark 9 verses 38 -50, which, amongst other more
positive images, has verses 43 to 47 saying, ―If your       Parkgate Centre (by the Library)
hand causes you to stumble, cut it off……‖ etc. etc..
One person wondered how and why we would read this
text in the presence of children, one called it a ―text
of terror‖ that did not portray a God of unconditional
love which is what we teach. Another asked how a
newcomer to the church would hear this and how do
passages like this affect the welcoming environment of
the church. Someone else asked the questions, ―what
causes me/us to stumble – what do we need to let go
of? What would a loving God want me to cut out of my
life? How do we explore this reading metaphorically,
rather than literally?‖ We felt an acute awareness of
hearing this text in the midst of violence in the world;
that it was re-directing us back to ourselves, our
relationship with God, our spirituality, and a
consideration of the reading as addressing our             Bet you’ve heard of flash mobs. Well, if you haven’t,
unsustainable ways of living on this planet. What might    this is Wikipedia’s definition:
the metaphors for us be today? (―If your carbon
footprint is….then it is better to…..‖) Also spoken of     ―A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble
were recent stories of young gay people taking their       suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action
own lives.                                                 for a brief time, then quickly disperse.‖

As you can imagine, this conversation needed a             So…plan to sing with us after worship on Dec. 19.
trusting environment in which to happen. We were           Invite your friends and family. Let’s make it a big