SSUC Ministers’ Musings

Equality isn’t Justice
Being a community that identifies itself as one that ‘celebrates diversity’ and ‘makes a meaningful difference’, it’s important to keep having the conversation about what it means to be a justice-seeking community, what it means to be an affirming congregation, and what it means to be allies.  A recent question was asked of me: “If we are inclusive of everybody, why do we spend as much time talking about only some groups, like the 2SLGBTQ+ community or the Indigenous community?” This is an excellent question to ask that helps us raise an extremely important understanding of social justice and the work of transforming first our own lives, and then the world around us. In a perfect world, everyone could be treated equally and when we say that we’re inclusive of all, it would mean that all have access, ability, support and rights to be able to freely express and live
What is Pastoral Care?
Throughout our transition process, the SSUC community has been invited to share the priorities, values, programs and ministries that are critically important to the work that SSUC does and will do. I want to take a few weeks of blog posts to offer some thoughts on some of these. One of SSUC’s core identities is “Inspiring Compassion and Connection”. Fitting squarely into this category is the way we connect and care for each other. This is community after all, and positive community means that we aren’t just consumers of a product (that is, coming on Sunday morning to receive teaching or wisdom in exchange for a donation), rather we seek to be relational in our work (that is, all contributing to the work of making a difference in our lives and the world – all while fostering connection and relationships.) One of the ways this gets expressed in the life
Open to All
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. This is the sign that went up in front of SSUC on Thursday. In an article written by Martin Thielen, a retired United Methodist minister and creator and author of, he tells a story of a couple who wanted to join his congregation because of the sign out front with this same message. They told him “we thought all churches were narrow-minded and judgmental. So, when we saw your sign, we decided to visit. When we discovered the church inside lived up to the sign outside, we wanted to become members.” In honour of this story and many like it, our sign echoes the message that made a difference for that couple and for countless people who need something other than the active or passive rejection or judgement that they feel in many churches. The reality is that so many folks I talk to
Part of the Team
As a boy raised in the 70’s and 80’s in Edmonton, son of hockey fans, and entirely impressionable right at the peak era of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and the dynasty Edmonton Oilers team of the 80’s, it’s no wonder that I’m a lifelong fan. Even as I lived in the greater Toronto area for some years, I could never cheer for the Leafs (no way), and even though I paid less attention in the “decade of darkness” of the late 00’s-early 10’s when the team was simply not much good, I always consider the Oilers to be “my team”. Right now, the team is at a high point – Stanley Cup contenders and possibly even favourites. With the team currently in the 2nd round of the playoffs, I’ve spent more than the usual amount of time watching late-night games to cheer them on. All this is to say that
In Case You Need This Today:
Just for a moment, take a pause and hear some affirmation today: you are enough and the resources you have within you will see you through each day. It doesn’t always feel like it because everyone carries wounds, hurts and doubts. And if you’re feeling particularly tired, then it’s a particularly perfect time to hear that you have the strength and cords of connection within you to feed who you are and what you do. I’ve been thinking about the last few months in community at SSUC. Imagine that in a community that’s undergoing such transition and change with the retirement of such a long-loved member of the ministry team, is now expressing so much energy and activity. It’s unexpected. It’s beautiful. You have all been a collection of wonderful whirls and swirls of ideas and plans, all with an attitude of “Yes!”. Left and right, you’ve been stepping up
Greening our Spirits – Earth Day 2023
SSUC is an Earth Charter Community. In the mid 2000’s, the community was energized and active in living out its commitments around how we want to live out our lives as a spiritual community, as people who together share land, a building, and a responsibility. The commitment to being an affirming community was only a few years old when we were introduced to the concept of Earth Charter Communities: the idea of committing to a framework that not only aligned with SSUC’s values, but that could guide a community who were just beginning to live into what it meant to care for land and a new facility. What is the Earth Charter? The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Of course, the charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living. But ecological integrity
Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine
from Dr. Eileen Feliciano, clinical psychologist, New York.   Stick to a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.   Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have.  Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth.  Take the time to do a bath or a facial.  Put on some bright colors.  It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.   Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes.  If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues.  If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan.  It is amazing
Land Acknowledgments in Difficult Times
CBC’s Baronness Von Sketch show recently aired a comedy sketch having the ladies attending a theatre production where a land acknowledgment was happening. When the theatre staff member said, ‘we acknowledge that we meet tonight on traditional indigenous land’, one woman in the audience turned to her friend and said, “Did she say we’re on someone’s land? Should we leave?” Comedy can often ask better and deeper questions than all our serious talking heads can manage. Jonathan Kay, in a recent Quillette article, writes: The practice of land acknowledements is rooted in good intentions, and originally had real educational value. Indigenous lands often were seized through a mixture of brutality and theft. In many cases, the reserves on which Indigenous peoples now live don’t even correspond with traditional territories: Tribes typically were expelled from fertile lands for the benefit of white farmers, and often were left to languish in remote
Being Honest with our Children
This week, our community lost one of its key children’s program leaders. Michael lived with a brain tumor for many years, managing the symptoms and functioning very well. Over the last couple of months, his reality changed and the tumor began to impact his movement and abilities. After Michael was no longer able to be present with the community and teach the children, it was important for us to address his illness and his absence with the children with whom he worked so closely. During our regular conversation time during our gathering, we took some time to acknowledge the difficult reality of Michael not returning to teach. I spoke words similar to the following: Today during our time on the carpet, we’re going to talk about someone very special. If you spent any time on this carpet, or in kidSPIRIT over the last 8 years or so, you know Michael.
Thank you, Michael
Michael O’Hea wins the kidSPIRIT VIP award as one of our most valued kidSPIRIT volunteers. Michael loves baseball, particularly the San Francisco Giants, and I know he’ll appreciate that a VIP award goes to someone without whom the successes and achievements we’ve made wouldn’t be possible. This is Michael. For more than 8 years, Michael has volunteered as a key leader in our children’s program. Michael always has energy and excitement for leading kidSPIRIT, volunteering for summer camps and helping wherever he could to share his joy and positive spirit with children. His passion for science and wanting to share how our universe works, his love of nature and his excitement to teach and share are contagious! I would often ask him if he wanted to take a week, a month, any time away from kidSPIRIT so he could participate differently in the gathering, and he would always say… ”kidSPIRIT