SSUC Ministers’ Musings

PIE Day Action
March 14th is pi day. Pie = Deliciousness! Pi = Ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The result: an infinite number, starting with 3.14. PIE = One way of celebrating how inclusive we are to 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Public. Intentional. Explicit. Here at SSUC for the last 4 years, we have joined with Affirm United, our national affirming organization, in committing to concerted efforts to be public, intentional, and explicit (PIE) in our affirming journey. This is more important now than ever. Increasingly, 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and freedoms are under attack in Canada. There has been an exponential rise in anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate-fueled movements, hate crimes, and hate speech across Canada. Anti-trans policies and policy proposals are emerging provincially and federally. There is also an alarming wave of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ demonstrations, vandalism, and assaults on affirming clergy and communities. As a community, we have always worn our affirming commitments on our sleeve. We’re
Contemplating Peace in a Complicated World
Peace is elusive, and it’s not just because we’re acutely aware of the violent and warring places in the world; Sadly, this is always happening in different places at different times. Perhaps peace is always elusive, because we all are required to wrestle with this frustrating reality, regardless of when or where we live. Our relationship with peace seems to always be in need of reflection, work, patience and courage. It helps me to remember those who’ve walked this difficult road. This week, thinking about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In his brief 39 years (1906-1945), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a prolific teacher, writer and preacher who deeply engaged his political and social context of Nazi Germany. At the time, Hitler wanted the Christian church to bend to the state’s will, agree with his ideology and regime, in order to uphold it and maintain compliance/reduce opposition. The Nazis convinced many churches to expel clergy
Remembrance Day Peace
They say that as intelligent, mature human beings it’s possible to hold conflicting ideas at the same time. This is why we can argue with ourselves, weighing the merits of many sides of an issue. Though it is possible, I’d say it’s anything but easy. Remembrance Day is one of those times and concepts for me. Remembrance Day can and perhaps must be a day of contradictions. It is easy to shy away, but embrace these many diverse thoughts, I must. It’s a day, first and foremost, for remembering. On Saturday, I will think of those who have died in service to their country – an act of courage and social responsibility that from my privileged perspective,  is a selfless act beyond my full understanding. I will remember those who have, willingly or unwillingly, put their lives at risk to defend ideals like democracy, free elections, human decency and an
Feeling the Violence and War
I have never lived in an active war zone. I’m guessing most reading this have not. It is hard for me to imagine the pain, devastation and loss that one is confronted with in the midst of crisis, war and violence. My comfortable life and a 24-hour news cycle means that I can be numbed to tales of bombings and ongoing crises. Yes, because it’s far away, but also because my own empathy skills slip to become un-honed and un-practiced. There is so much to say about a world where a Russian tyrant continues to invade neighboring and sovereign Ukraine, and where renewed, hostile and atrocious attacks plague Palestine and Israel. There is much to say about right and wrong, about the long-term effects of being occupier and occupied, about the ethics of bombing attacks, military or civilian targets, about about justice, and about the hard, long, and tiring work
Talking about our Mortality
Why do we only talk about someone’s impact they have by nature of the values they live, the love they share and the intentions/action/attention they exhibit in their lives when they’ve already died? The impact we have on those around us is one of the key ways we develop a legacy that will live beyond us and maintain our significance after we’re gone. On Sunday, June 25th, I reflected on the difficult work before us to first, acknowledge our own mortality and the fact that we’re all working with a deadline; and second, to confront whatever fears or anxieties we have around our mortality, the beliefs we come to this topic with, and how we move beyond denial and reticence toward healthy and positive intentions and action. I want to do more than just think or speak about what’s important to me. I want to live it in such a
Just a Few
When you come into the SSUC building on a Sunday morning, you experience the vibrancy and energy of a whole community gathering together. We see old friends or the opportunity to meet someone new. We engage in a spiritual gathering that helps us all connect with our deepest values, self understanding, and ways of being in the world. I’ve heard from so many of you that this is one of the most meaningful things about SSUC – the expansive, affirming, and challenging time we spend together on a Sunday. But that’s not all a spiritual community like ours is about. Some of the most impactful and life-changing work we do as a community happens at different times and looks quite different. The times when we’re putting our values into action, giving or receiving support, learning something new and discussing ideas, issues, or new understandings on the expansive path, are most
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
Gatherings at 10AM Sundays