• Faith Church returns to Fort McMurray

    Dear Friends of Faith Presbyterian Church,

    On behalf of the Session of Faith Presbyterian Church, Fort McMurray, Alberta, we would like to thank you for your support of our congregation these past eight weeks following the wildfires in northern Alberta.  We have been blessed by words of encouragement and prayer, by financial gifts to assist in rebuilding and to strengthen people who completely lost their homes, and gifts in kind.  Your thoughtfulness, acts of generosity and kindness have blessed our community.  Through your compassion and support we have seen the face of Jesus and experienced the grace and love of God among us.  Thank you!

    To provide a brief update, the re-entry process to Fort McMurray began on June 1, on a voluntary phased basis, and we still have families making their way home.  Our first worship service in Fort McMurray was held on Sunday, June 12, within the home of the Brewers and on June 19 we celebrated communion with our interim moderator, The Rev. Dianne Ollerenshaw.  In August we hope to resume worship in the theatre of Westwood High School, which is our regular place of worship.  We are looking forward to getting back to the “normal routines” of congregational life and stepping out in faith as we go forward by the grace of God.

    Photo YMM 19 June 003

  • EMERGENCY APPEALS – Ways to Show your Support to the Community of Fort McMurray

    “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity,
    which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”
    (2 Corinthians 9:11)

    Donate Directly to Faith Presbyterian Church, Fort McMurray
    If there are individuals, organizations, or churches who want to donate directly to Faith Presbyterian Church, Fort McMurray, you may send your donation to:
    Faith Presbyterian Church
    c/o The Presbytery of Edmonton-Lakeland
    10025 105 Street
    Edmonton, AB T5J 1C8.
    Please make cheques out to The Presbytery of Edmonton-Lakeland and indicate the donation is for Faith Church, Fort McMurray. The Presbytery will hold funds for Faith Church until such a time as Faith Church is able to have Session meetings and deal with the funds.


    Donate to Presbyterian World Service and Development (PWS&D)
    Presbyterian World Service & Development is accepting donations from those who wish to provide support to the people affected by the fires. These financial gifts will support immediate relief and long-term rebuilding for people in Fort McMurray.  Funds will be used in consultation with Presbyteries and local congregations to support Presbyterian, ecumenical and other relief efforts.    Give online and indicate “Alberta Fires”


    Donate to the Alberta Fires Appeal — Canadian Red Cross

    On May 6, 2016, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement on the Government of Canada’s response to the Fort McMurray fire:

    “Today, I speak for all Canadians when I say that our hearts go out to the families affected by this terrible fire. We are thinking of – and praying for – the people of Fort McMurray. Though Alberta’s loss is profound, we will get through this tragedy together: as friends, as neighbours, as Canadians.

    “I encourage everyone to make a donation to www.redcross.ca , and help the thousands of displaced residents of Fort McMurray.

    “The Government of Canada will match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the Fort McMurray relief effort. Our commitment will apply to individual charitable donations made within Canada, it will be backdated to May 3rd, 2016, and it will continue until May 31st, 2016. There will be no financial cap on the federal government’s contribution.

    “We applaud the Government of Alberta, who has also agreed to match donations. As a result, for every dollar donated by Canadians, the Red Cross will receive a total of $3.

    “The outpouring of goodwill and compassion we have already seen from Canadians across the country has not only been inspirational, but stands as a testament to who we are as a nation.

    “I would once again like to thank the many first responders who are working tirelessly, day and night, to fight this fire. To those who have lost so much: we are resilient, we are Canadians, and we will make it through this difficult time, together.”   See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/05/06/statement-prime-minister-canada-fort-mcmurray-fire#sthash.MJdxJAMV.dpuf

    To make your online donation, please visit:  https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50639


    Living is giving.
    We live life best as we give our strengths, gifts, and competencies in the service of God’s mission.  We are called to serve, not survive.  Our giving makes a difference in our families,
    our work, 
    our community, our world, and our church.  – Kennon L. Callahan

    photo-150  leaves on forest floor

  • Spiritual Care in Response to YMM Fire


    Blessing for the Beginning of the Day
    Circle us Lord,
    Keep love within, keep hatred out.
    Keep joy within, keep fear out.
    Keep peace within, keep worry out.
    Keep light within, keep darkness out.
    May you stand in the circle with us, today and always.

    Isaiah 57:15:
    For thus says the high and lofty one
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
    I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
    to revive the spirit of the humble,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

    Compassionate God, source of all comfort,
    we pray for the people whose lives have been devastated by fire,
    displacement, worry and exhaustion in Fort McMurray.
    Bring them comfort, we pray.
    Protect the vulnerable.
    Strengthen the weak.
    Raise up the discouraged.
    Restore the hopeless and revive those broken-hearted.
    Have mercy on all those working to fight the forest fires,
    for emergency response personnel, and the whole community.
    May our response to the suffering be generous and bring you praise.

    Blessing for the End of the Day:
    I lay my head to rest,
    and in doing so,
    lay at your feet
    the faces I have seen,
    the voices I have heard,
    the words I have spoken,
    the hands I have shaken,
    the service I have given,
    the joys I have shared,
    the sorrows revealed,
    I lay them at your feet,
    and in doing so
    lay my head to rest.

    photo-151  Log on forest floor

  • Disturb us, O Lord

    (This prayer is attributed to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu adapted from an original prayer by Sir Francis Drake)

    Disturb us, O Lord
    when we are too well-pleased with ourselves
    when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
    because we sailed too close to the shore.

    Disturb us, O Lord
    when with the abundance of things we possess,
    we have lost our thirst for the water of life
    when, having fallen in love with time,
    we have ceased to dream of eternity
    and in our efforts to build a new earth,
    we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

    Stir us, O Lord
    to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas
    where storms show Thy mastery,
    where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

    In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
    and invited the brave to follow.

  • A Hand of Friendship

    A Hand of Friendship

    If your heart is for peace
    and my heart is for peace
    give me your hand.

    Give me your hand,
    so small a thing to ask
    and yet – so big.

    If I let my hand,
    your hand,
    then somehow
    I have crossed the Rubicon;
    I cannot be the same.

    I cannot be the same
    if, in the clasping
    of your hand,
    I dare to raise
    my head
    and look into your eyes,
    and see a mirror image
    of myself,
    frightened of trusting,
    fearful of the unknown,
    scared to admit
    your humanity,
    to be open and vulnerable,
    lest I am invaded,
    taken over,
    lest all ‘they’
    have told me over centuries
    proves to be
    about you.

    Give me your hand.
    O give me your hand
    before the moment passes,
    before the darkness overtakes,
    and I discover
    when it is too late,
    that you were my sister,
    you were my brother,
    that together
    we were being called
    towards a future
    bright with hope
    and promise,
    by the God
    whose hand
    forever reaches out
    to you and me
    in friendship,
    and because of whom
    we can never be the same.

    And so,
    may the peace of Christ
    be with you,
    and may He ever flow
    between us
    as I give you
    my hand.

    © Ruth Patterson, Restoration Ministries

    Photo Bleeding Hearts

  • A Blessing – For Longing

    “For Longing” by John O’Donohue

    Blessed be the longing that brought you here
    And quickens your soul with wonder.

    May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
    That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

    May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
    To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

    May the form of your belonging – in love, creativity, and friendship
    Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

    May the one you long for long for you.
    May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

    May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

    May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

    May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.                                           May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
    May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.



  • Be Authentic in Your Leadership

    Parker Palmer in his book, Let Your Life Speak:  Listening for the Voice of Vocation, wrote,

    “When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature,
    when it comes from a place of organic reality within me,
    it will renew itself – and me – even as I give it away.
    Only when I give something that does not grow within me
    do I deplete myself and harm the other as well,
    for only harm can come from a gift that is forced, inorganic, unreal.”

    Small size blog Black-eyed Susan

  • Prayer of Dedication

    Prayer of Dedication by Dr. Edmond Oliver

    Dr. Edmond Oliver (1882-1935) the First Principal of St. Andrew’s Theological College, Saskatoon and a person strongly committed to rural communities wrote the following:

    If this bit of prairie be
    Worthier because of me
    Stronger for the strength I bring
    Sweeter for the songs I sing
    Purer for the path I tread
    Lighter for the light I shed
    Richer for the gifts I give
    Happier because I live
    Nobler for the death I die
    Not in vain have I been I.
    May we believe our lives
    and our being here
    helps to make this world
    a better place.

    -  Published in CRCN/CiRCLe M Newsletter #5 April 2010

    Photo England Rainbow

  • Southern Alberta Flood – PWS&D

    Canadians responded to the flood – generously supporting organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army.  Presbyterian Canadians sent donations to Presbyterian World Service and Development (PWS&D).  Now PWS&D is the development relief and refugee sponsorship agency of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC).  For over 65 years, our church has been actively working to serve marginalized and vulnerable people, usually internationally, with a commitment to Christ’s message of love through justice, poverty reduction and support in times of disaster. PWS&D works with churches and organizations seeking to transform their communities by promoting justice, peace and the integrity of creation through programs in the areas of food security, sustainable livelihoods, health, peace and human rights.

    In the Presbytery of Calgary-Macleod we received news that Canadians had sent money to PWS&D.  This has not been solicited, no appeal had been made, Presbyterians responded spontaneously with concern and compassion.  We received approximately $50,000 and through an agreement with PWS&D it was decided that these funds would go to the immediate need for food and shelter of people displaced by the flooding.  This included vulnerable homeless people in the downtown area of Calgary as well as residents of High River and the Stony Nakoda reserve.  The Presbytery of Calgary-Macleod thought supporting food banks would be aligned with PWS&D priorities of providing food in emergency situations.  The Presbytery decided to create partnerships with the following organizations:  The High River Food Bank, The Stoney Nakoda Food Bank Society, and Calgary Alpha House Society.

    I have served as the liaison between the presbytery and these organizations.  On February 12, 2014 I attended the Grand Re-Opening of the Iyahrhe Nakoda Food Bank located in Morley, AB, and on June 20, 2014 attended “A River Ran Through It” an event by Alpha House to commemorate the Flood of 2013 and an Aboriginal Day of Prayer 2014.  Alpha House is located in downtown Calgary  just a block from the Stampede Grounds and runs outreach programs, a shelter, a detox program, and a housing program with case management support at three apartment buildings; including one for Aboriginal People, one for chronically homeless men and women, and one for Canadian veterans.  During the event I heard stories of how people rallied to help the vulnerable get to higher and safe ground, I learned that strangers offered their homes, and many helped to relocate residents of Alpha House into the Max Bell and the old Science Building in Calgary. We celebrated the resilience and courage of folk and gave thanks to the Creator.

    Kathy Christiansen, Executive Director, shared words of gratitude to those on the ground and to those who helped in different ways.   She especially thanked CUPS, Calgary Urban Project Society, and the Calgary Police.  Kathy also thanked The Presbyterian Church, PWS&D, and she shared how our donations made it possible to give out food hampers and provide meals to residents.  The event began with words of appreciation and acknowledgement and then turned into a celebration and feast.   Everyone enjoyed a wonderful feast together with bannock and salsa on the side – then like at a summer pow pow, we took in the sounds of traditional drumming and watched several dancers before joining in a round dance.  A elder shared reflections on the flood and how he saw the whole community come together.  He said that was a time when we were all equal – we were all one.  There were no differences.  The flood serves to remind us how to live together.

    In Psalm 46 in verses 4 & 5 we read these words:  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.  God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.

    In Psalm 46 we are told the good news that God is ever present.  God is near and God is our refuge and strength.  When we are experiencing change we need to be reminded that God is close.

    Photo Morely FoodBank

  • Reconciliation… towards a new relationship

    The Synod of Alberta and the Northwest is located on the lands of First Nations in Treaty 7, 6, and 8.  On March 27 to 30, 2014, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) met in Edmonton for its last national event with the theme:  It’s about Wisdom – A National Journey for Healing and Reconciliation.  The public including Presbyterians attended and bore witness to the testimony of survivors as they shared stories of trauma and abuse experienced in residential schools as well of courage, resilience and hope.  The TRC also heard stories from the children and family members of residential school survivors.

    Many Canadians today, including new citizens of Canada, are unaware of the history of colonization of the Indigenous peoples of this land.  Many Christians have not wrestled with the dilemma of how our religion has been a source of both pain and healing.  Our unwillingness to face our complicity in the residential school legacy has been an obstacle to nurturing good relations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

    I appreciate the words Justice Murray Sinclair, one of the TRC Commissioners, spoke at the national TRC event in Vancouver, when on the first day he was addressing school children:  “We know that among you are the future leaders of this country.  Among you are those who are going to govern this land.  Among you are those who are going to make important decisions about reconciliation. And you are going to have to come to terms with this history that you’re going to hear a little bit about.  We know that’s a difficult process.  But it all starts with three things.  You must watch.  You must listen.  And you must show respect.”

    Below are some resources to help you find wisdom on the journey for healing and reconciliation.



    The Royal Proclamation of 1763 – Guidelines for European Settlement of Aboriginal Territories in now North America  http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/government-policy/royal-proclamation-1763.html

    United Nations DECLARATION on the RIGHTS of INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (UNDRIP)  http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf

    The Blanket Exercise.  This is a group learning exercise about Treaties.    http://www.kairoscanada.org/dignity-rights/indigenous-rights/blanket-exercise/



    City of Edmonton Proclamation of Reconciliation by Mayor Iveson:                  http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/news/2014/mayor-iveson-proclaims-a-year-of-reconciliation-in-edmonton.aspx

    City of Calgary Proclamation of Year of Reconciliation by Mayor Nenshi:  http://blog.calgarymayor.ca/2014/04/proclaiming-year-of-reconciliation.html



    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) website:           http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3

    For the TRC Interim Report which reflects activities undertaken by the Commission since June 2009 and provides 20 recommendations that touch on five key areas including the operation of the Commission, education, support for survivors, reconciliation and commemoration, visit: http://www.attendancemarketing.com/~attmk/TRC_jd/Interim_report_English_electronic_copy.pdf The final report is expected in 2015.

    They Came for the Children:  Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools   http://www.myrobust.com/websites/trcinstitution/File/2039_T&R_eng_web%5B1%5D.pdf

    ‘Monster’ by poet Dennis Saddleman: ‘I hate you residential school, I hate you’             https://soundcloud.com/cbc-radio-one/i-hate-you-residential-school

    It Matters To Me – Twibbon and Personal Ribbon Campaign  http://www.trc.ca/websites/reconciliation/index.php?p=328

    Aboriginal Healing Foundation:   A resource you may order for free or download is called Speaking My Truth:  Reflections on Reconciliation & Residential Schools.  The forward is by Shelagh Rogers.  http://speakingmytruth.ca/?page_id=54

    Archival resource from The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC):  http://www.presbyterianarchives.ca/residentialschools.html  This includes photos of Indian Residential Schools from the PCC Archives.

    There are many books available – fiction and non-fiction to tell the story of the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.  Here are a few titles:

    • The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King. (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2012.)  ISBN  978 – 0 – 385 – 66421 – 9
    • Broken Circle by Theodore Fonataine (Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd, Victoria)  ISBN  978 – 1- 926613-66-6
    • The Stolen Life A Journey of a Cree Woman by Ruby Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson  (Vintage Canada 1998)
    • Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden  (Penguin Books 2005)
    • The Orenda by Joseph Boyden  (Hamish Hamilton Canada 2013)
    • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese  (Douglas & McIntyre  2012)  ISBN:  978 – 1 – 55365 – 402 – 5
    • Great Women from our First Nations by Kelly Foumel (Second Story Press, 2007)    ISBN  978 – 1 – 897187 -25 – 8
    • Unsettling the Settler Within  Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling and Reconciliation in Canada by Paulette Regan  (UBC Press, 2011)  ISBN:  9780774817783
    • Shingwauk’s Vision  A Histoy of Native Residential Schools by J. R. Miller (University of Toronto Press,  1996)
    • A Short History of Indians in Canada by Thomas King  (Harper Collins, 2005)   ISBN  10:0 – 00 – 200616 – 2      13: 987 – 0 – 00 – 2006616 – 3



    Our Words, Our Ways: http://education.alberta.ca/media/511990/words.pdf

    Shared Learnings:  Integrating BC Aboriginal Content: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/abed/shared.pdf

    Learning Circle:  http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/R32-195-1998E.pdf

    Cultural Information about the Blackfoot of Alberta: http://www.glenbow.org/blackfoot#

    Where are the Children:  http://www.wherearethechildren.ca   This site provides information about residential schools

    Four Directions Teaching:  http://www.fourdirectionsteachings.com   This site gives cultural information about the Mi’kmaw, Mohawks, Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe.

    100 Years of Loss – The Residential School System in Canada (From the Legacy of Hope  Raising Awareness of the Legacy of Residential Schools):  http://www.legacyofhope.ca/projects/100-years-of-loss-curriculum


    WOTJ Project Heart Photo