Monday, February 17, 2020

Auction for Missions

Saturday night I attended a silent auction --a fundraiser for our mission team to the  Dominican Republic.   
As well as items for auction, there was dessert and coffee. Lots and lots of desserts.  I think the sugar high was  designed to reduce bidder inhibitions. It certainly worked on me!
 I thought many bids were too low for the quality of the item up for auction, so I bumped up the bid.  I came home with four dozen roses -- and a few other items. Apparently, instead of boosting the prices, I discouraged other bidders. Good intentions gone awry.
Ah well, it's all in a good cause, as they say, and I've shared the roses with others.

The silent auction is a fun event, requiring enormous organization and a small army of workers. Sometimes it is the main event for funding the mission trip, other times it is an adjunct.  At SPPC we've been quietly fund-raising for many months.
Some congregants have Thrifty's Smile Cards that ensures a portion of their grocery bills is donated to buy school supplies and medical items for the mission team to take with them.
more workers

More directly, we have a team of cooks who makes soup, meat pies and other goodies for sale. The food comes in small portions, it's tasty and it's economical. Many in our congregation have a big appetite for these small meals. 
Loved this, refrained from bidding

We also hold a bottle drive from January to March, adding a little more to the coffers and saving people a trip to the recycle depot.

All of these efforts mean that our mission team, Benjamin, Darlene, Diane and Joan, is well positioned for their trip to the Dominican Republic a few weeks from now.  
ready for fall
spring planter that I resisted

 Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 9:35-36 “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

Whether we're making soup or buying roses, we too can show compassion for the distressed and dispirited in our world.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Vision 2020 Prayer Team

One of the groups involved in SPPC's Vision 2020 is a Prayer Team. The purpose of this team has been both to pray and to look for ways to engage our community with prayer. 

This week we launch our first prayer campaign to seek the prayers of the people for our individual  spiritual growth, for our spiritual growth as a congregation, for growth into our community and for our denomination.

Helen Ewing was wearing her family motto in a beautiful brooch last Sunday. We asked her what it said and she told us "ora et labora" This translates to "pray and work." What a great thing to do! It is now our time to work and pray. 

We have made prayer bookmarks for people to take home as guidelines for praying for our faith and our church. Here is the comprehensive list of the prayers

The bookmarks are available in the narthex. 

As well as the launch of the prayer campaign, last Sunday saw the congregation treated to a free lunch.

Thanks to Barb and her cousins! (Does that sound like Gilbert and Sullivan chorus?" 
 It was a lovely gesture and much appreciated. This congregation does enjoy "breaking bread" together.

with notes from Diane Cunningham
photos from Janet Smith and Rebekah Cunningham

Monday, February 3, 2020

New Bible Study

Our regular Wednesday morning and evening Bible Study has resumed. Good to have Rev. Irwin teaching us again. 

How do we treat "spirit" in our lives? Ignore it? Put it in a pigeon hole? Be aware that it wraps around every aspect of our being? The study invites us to explore these and other questions.
Each session begins with a brief presentation from a video series called Nooma,with Rob Bell, In these short presentations Bell uses every day life events to illustrate scripture, or perhaps he uses scripture to illuminate every day life events. Is rain just precipitation or can it be seen as a metaphor for our life in Christ? 

The word Nooma comes from the Greek and is translated as "spirit."  The series challenges us to reflect on our faith and how we understand scripture. It invites us to take God out of the "church" and put Him at the centre of our lives.

We plan to watch two short videos per week for the 12 weeks of the course. Don't worry if you miss a week, or if you've missed the first one. Each session can stand alone--or with the others. The sessions are available on youtube if you want to see what it's all about.

All are welcome, whether you attend SPPC or not. The morning study begins at 9:30 am and the evening one at 7:00 pm. We're a friendly bunch. Discussions are animated, thoughtful, fun and respectful. Coffee is always ready.
 Call 250 656-2241 for more information.

Monday, January 27, 2020

What a Party

We certainly welcomed 2020 in style -- 1920's style that is -- last Monday. The turn out was terrific. At the beginning of the month we worried if we could make 25 guests and in the end there were over 50. 

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to dress up. All those feathers and beads added a festive air to the proceedings. Congratulations to Tore and Jerusha for winning the costume contest.

Thanks also to Janet for persuading so many people to try their hand (feet?) at the Charleston. You all looked very impressive.

The caterers did a great job. I heard many expressions of relief from the usual kitchen volunteers that they could just relax and enjoy the lunch instead of serving and cleaning up.

All the streamers and vintage sheet music added a bit of interest, not to mention all the old 78 records on the tables.

Noel was emcee and kept us all entertained and the event moving along. The 1920's quiz was a good conversation starter and history lesson.

All in all, it was a great party. SPPC is a fun place to worship. Spread the word.

Monday, January 20, 2020


It snowed this week. And then snowed some more. Then it snowed again. The wind came up. It got really cold. It snowed.
Our intrepid secretary resorted to a taxi to get to work. 

Just like B.C. Ferries, the airport, the school district and many businesses, SPPC cancelled or postponed most events in the early part of the week, including the discussion of the book If You Want to Walk on Water you have to get out of the boat.
The police issued warnings for everyone to stay home, so instead of showing you pictures of the snowstorm at SPPC, here are a few from around my house.

By Thursday the weather let up a bit. Crews arrived to clear the snow from the parking lot. The sun shone. Our brave choir members came out for rehearsal on Thursday night.
The sun came out and the world was beautiful
crew at work

Sunday service will proceed as usual and all is set for our 2020 luncheon on Monday at noon.

Being snowed in is a good reminder to us all that we do not have the control over our lives that we think we do. Proverbs 19:21 Be grateful if you were warm and dry and thank God for this bounteous, beautiful world -- His gift. Col 1: 16-17    

For the Beauty of the Sky
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Roaring 20's and PCC

We're having a party at SPPC on the 20th of this month, to celebrate 20/20 -- a vision plan the congregation adopted a couple of years ago. Now that 2020 is here, session thought we should celebrate.
The theme of the party is the 1920's. We'll have food and music and some old-time fun. 

We are all familiar with the term "roaring 20's" as it applies to secular life -- prohibition, votes for women, rum running, dancing -- but what about the era in the Presbyterian Church in Canada? Did we "roar" or whisper?

A little history here. Since the 1700's there had been reformed congregations in what is now Canada. Some were associated with the Church of Scotland, others with the French Huguenots, others with Dutch and German churches. On June 15, 1875 four major churches came together and formed the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The historic vote took place in Victoria Hall, Montreal.
Victoria Hall, Montreal

There were some dissenting congregations, but over the next several years, most joined the PCC denomination. Finally, in 1918 the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal, the last major congregation affiliated with the Church of Scotland in Canada joined the Presbyterian Church in Canada. 
The denomination grew throughout the country and by the 1920's was the largest Christian denomination in English-speaking Canada.
Then came 1925 and church union. The "roaring" began.

Seventy percent of Presbyterian congregations joined with the Methodist Church, Canada, and the Congregationalist Church to form the United Church of Canada, on June 10, 1925. 

The remaining thirty percent were unconvinced by the doctrine of the new denomination. This group, consisting of those Presbyterian congregations, and a number of minority groups which opposed union into the United Church of Canada, met for prayer just before midnight in Knox Presbyterian Church (Toronto). Some 79 dissenting commissioners, and others equally concerned about the future of their church, had come to resume the General Assembly of the "continuing" Presbyterian Church that night. They were led by Rev. Dr. David George McQueen.
For over a decade these congregations used the term "Continuing Presbyterians" or "Non-Concurring Presbyterians." In 1939 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that these congregations had the legal right to the name Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Now it is 2020.  Are we ready to roar into the next decade? 

Monday, January 6, 2020


In the Christian calendar, January 6, Epiphany, marks the end of the Christmas season. In the secular world, Christmas seems to begin right after Hallowe'en and end at midnight on the December 25. This disparity between the shopping mall and the church sanctuary can be confusing, so just to set the record straight -- Christmas is a Christian holy day that marks the birth of Jesus, Saviour of the world. We do not know the actual day of His birth, but December 25th is the day chosen by the early church.

Advent is the four weeks before Christmas Day. While the secular world is in full party mode from the beginning of December, the Christian church is in a time of waiting, a season of contemplation and sacrifice. 
An example of the schism between popular custom and Christian tradition is the Advent calender. Many parents and grandparents give Advent calenders filled with treats to the children in their lives. In other words, the kids get presents every day until Dec. 25.  The Advent calender of my childhood had coin slots on every day and children were expected to put money (sacrifice) in the slots, then take the filled calendar to church as an offering on Christmas. 

Epiphany marks not only the end of the Christmas season, but the arrival of the Wise Men at Bethlehem. Given that most children's pageants lump the angels, the shepherds, the holy family and the magi into one big scene, it is easy to forget that the "travellers from the East" arrived later.

The Biblical record found in Matthew 2: 1-12 is brief, noting only that the men were guided by a star and arrived with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and that they did not reveal to Herod the location of the Christ child. 
Over the centuries many traditions have grown up around these mysterious visitors. They've been given names, Caspar, Balthassar and Melchior. Eastern tradition sets the number of magi at twelve, while Western churches set the number at three. What is important to note is not the number, but the fact these worshippers were Gentiles--a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy that Christ would be a "light to the Gentiles."
Notice also, that the Wise Men (kings) (magi) worshipped, thereby acknowledging the divinity of Jesus. They would not otherwise have worshipped a Jewish child born to modest parents from Nazareth.

There are many wonderful legends around the Wise Men. One of my favourites is the story by Henry van Dyke Jr. about the "Fourth Wise Man"  who never did get to Bethlehem but spent his life giving his time and gifts to the poor and needy.

These legends bring joy to the Christmas season, they illustrate the Christian story and that satisfy our desire for pomp and riches in Bethlehem.They have inspired fine artwork and many carols.
But, if we are wise, like the magi, we will base our faith on the Biblical account. 
It has riches enough if we look carefully.