Praying for the Whole World

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joyful Banners

Last Sunday we were all amazed when we entered the church sanctuary to see the new banners for Palm Sunday. 

hosannabannerThey were designed and artfully crafted by Joy Wickett.  What a wonderful addition and a blessing to our worship service!

Yesterday I mentioned to Joy that I would like to do a blog entry about her work with the banners, and asked her for some thoughts on this – such as why she creates them, what inspires them, and how she sees them as being part of worship.  She said, “What if I send you an email message … ?“

So this is what I received this morning … (I added the photos)


I have been working in hand sewn felt works since the early 70's.  Up until 7 years ago, my pieces were always small ornaments, or small hangings no bigger than 12 inches by 10.  Then one day, I found a book of church banners.  One appealed to me and I made it, using felt and satin.  However, it was not until I joined Whitehorse United Church that I really began to create large pieces for the church. 

The song "Many Gifts One Spirit" seems to embody this place.  I  kept for many many years a picture of an embroidered piece and  up until that day, I never knew why.  This piece is also felt and fabric, a hard combination at that time.  It is small compared to the banners that came after it.  Now they are rarely less than 5 feet across and 5 or 6 feet long.

After that, ideas came at any time and place.  I would sketch them or write cryptic notes on any blank part of bulletins( yes I know I always look like I am listening to the Sunday sermon).   Bits of music, or scripture are always in my head to inspire me. That is the easy part.  It's the material that can be the problem.  An example is the parable of the lost sheep.  I knew what I wanted but spent at least two years trying to locate sheep like fabric.  Several people went Outside with tiny bits of the closest I could come to what I wanted.  Then the perfect fabric showed up in town in 2 "sheep" colours!  People tell me how much they enjoy the "90 and 9" banner, the 99 sheep, some eating, some with their backs to the viewer, most of them quite smug on their green field. Soon the church had a respectable collection for the year. 

Christmas and Advent still needed something and nothing was coming to me.  Last year, I had the idea of 4 panels of  4 tall candles with the words Love Joy Hope Peace.  I let it "cook" in my imagination and then in summer, I saw them as clearly as this page.  adventEach would have a different blue background and candle, and I would put them up one at a time.  Each would be 15 inches across and 65 inches long, so together they would fit the width of the space where they would hang. 

One night I woke up with a start.  How great would it be to make them reversible with Christmas on the other side! This plan had several drafts; pieces of paper all over the house, as I tried to come up with the perfect combination; 4 panels 15 inches wide and 65 inches long.  The Words "O Come/Adore/Him with a glorious golden angel with stars (and silver slippers)  and the sparkly silhouette of a village at the bottom. I was inspired.  Then at the end of October, I broke my wrist.

As if that was going to stop me. It was not my needle hand, just my fabric holding hand.  Sewing the letters was easy; so was cutting.  The first Advent panel went up before the cast came off.  Now for the hard part.  Because I  was hanging the panels as they were finished each week, I had no guiding panel to make sure all of them would be the right size.  In christmasspite of some wrong guesses (hidden by adding another layer of "village" to the bottom), when all the pieces were up, only one was out by a half inch.  All hand sewn in gold and silver metallic threads.  Nobody saw the Christmas side or knew about it until the Christmas Eve service. I cannot remember ever enjoying giving a gift so much!

Unless it is the latest Palm Sunday banner.  Palm Sunday was the second piece I had made for the church.  The choir liked it so much they wanted it left up through Easter.  But the background felt is stretchy and I was never happy how it hung, no matter how hard I tried to fix it.  This past January, at our annual retreat, I started having visions of happy running children.  And a donkey.  They never left me (well, the donkey bowed out pretty fast) and I realized that they were the children running to greet Jesus.

I found some images  in a colouring book, had a friend draw them all the same size so I could blow them up for patterns.  How could I make this?  If I used green or blue background, I could not use those colours for clothing.  One morning I woke up and I knew.  These children would be free of backgrounds and panels. 

palmsunday So there they hung on Palm Sunday, suspended from the rod by fishing line, with weights in their toes to keep them flat against the wall.  They made me so happy I cried as I saw how they looked.  I remember wishing I could draw so I could make them look like children in the congregation.  I don't know why I ever worried.  People saw those children's faces in the fabric ones.  It made them smile.  It made them happy.  Another gift to give.

Because they are all gifts.  A thank you for all the support and  kindness and compassion given by the congregation to me and to others.  I suppose these are my sermons, my prayers,  my songs. My contribution.   And there will be more.  A handful of flower patterns and my favourite line of music, "Hearts Unfold Like Flowers Before Thee".  Someday there will be a golden "Rise Shine, Give God Glory."  I have stopped worrying about colour and content.  After fretting that  February's "Love is All you Need" in pinks and reds on a dusty rose background might be all wrong for the wall, it turned out to be so calming and pleasant (to me at least) it will go back up for Mothers' Day. Unless a better idea comes along.


Isn’t she wonderful?

Posted by Hank

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keystone Kops at the ‘Sourdough Rendezvous’

The Sourdough Rendezvous is our winter carnival and it’s happening this weekend.  There’s lots of fun with all kinds of outdoor events, including flour packing, dog team races, chain saw throwing, etc. We also have our world famous snow carvers creating awesome sculptures.  And then there’s the crowning of our Rendezvous Queen.

A great time to get out and take in the excitement, especially when the weather has been cooperating as it has.

But, you have to ‘get with the program’ and wear something that proves you’re in the spirit of things.  Otherwise, you might get ‘arrested’ by the Keystone Kops.

Guess who was their latest target?


Oh, Oh, Reverend Bev doesn’t have her Rendezvous Button.


However, she is wearing the traditional Rendezvous garter!! Ha, Ha.


So, all’s well that ends well.

Posted by Hank

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lead, Kindly Light

While convelescing from my recent surgery, I decided to do some reading.

A couple of weeks ago I had, therefore, stopped in at Well-Read Books to find some 'new' reading material - looking for something that might be a bit different from what I would normally read.

One of the books I took away was Lead, Kindly Light - Gandhi & the Way to Peace by Vincent Sheean (Random House 1949). The book's summary on the inside of the dustcover got my attention ...

Though this book is in some sense an attempt to reveal the meaning of Mahatma Gandhi's power and life and teaching, it is, in a more important sense the author's eloquent testament of belief in Ghadhi's mission. Vincent Sheean went to India to ask Gandhi many questions. It was a quest brought on by the failure of every other human institution to supply hope for the future. What he learned there, from Gandhi and others, is of immense, immediate importance to all people everywhere and to the future of humanity.

In the early part of the book, it's clear that for author Sheean a huge mind shift was necessary. Here's some information from his bio, also on the book's dustcover ...

He was a foreign correspondent at the time of Mussolini's march on Rome, he was present in Vienna when Hitler moved into Austria and in Prague when he took Czechoslovakia. And was in Paris when France fell; in England during the Blitz; and left the central pacific Wake Island just one plane ahead of the Japanese attack. He also served in the United States Air Forces in North Africa, Sicily and Italy; in the China-Burma-India Theater, and later in Austria and Germany.

This sets the context for the following comment by Sheean:

... the armature of a child of the century, born in a materialist society in the age of scientific supremacy, was not easily penetrated. We absorb the assumptions of the time and place, almost without knowing it, and find ourselves equipped with weapons we have never bought. It takes years to learn how to throw them all away and go, defenseless and undefending, toward whatever the truth may be.

This observation was made 60 years ago. I can't help but wonder just how many years Sheean contemplated it might take for us, as a society, to learn how to take this different approach. Considering the conflict in the Middle East, in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're not there yet.

Which makes me think the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative is a step in the right direction.

Posted by Hank

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine’s Day


The children from our Joyful Noise Sunday School led this morning’s worship service.

The service included ‘The Story Of St. Valentine’, beautifully narrated by Rebecca Pollard.

Here it is:

The story of Valentine’s Day begins in the 3rd century, with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian martyr. The Christian’s name was Valentinus.

Claudius, the emperor, had ordered all Romans to worship 12 gods, and he made it a crime to associate with Christians. Anyone caught being friends with a Christian could be put to death!

But Valentinus decided that was not fair. He was determined to follow in the way of Jesus, who taught that we should be friends with everyone. Not even the threat of death could keep him from following his faith. Because of this, he was arrested and sent to prison. He stayed there for the rest of his life. It was horrible.

During the last weeks of his life, while he was in prison, an amazing thing happened. The jailer had come to know Valentinus during the time he was in prison. He saw that Valentinus was a kind man and that he knew a great deal. He asked if he could bring his daughter Julia to Valentinus so she could learn from him.

Julia was a smart girl with a quick mind. She came to the jail, where Valentinus gave her lessons about science and math. He taught her to read, and told her about God. She learned so much from him.

The day came when Valentinus was going to killed for his faith. The evening before his death, Valentinus wrote a little note to Julia, urging her to keep learning and to stay close to God. He signed it, “from your Valentine”.

His death sentence was carried out the next day, February 14th, in the year 270, near a gate later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried in Rome.

It is said that Julia herself planted a pink blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains as a symbol of abiding love and friendship.

On each February 14th, messages of love are exchanged all around the world, because of this brave man and his friend Julia.

Posted by Hank

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Australia Day mates!

As I write this it's Australia Day, Jan 26th. From Nov 2007 to April 2008 I was in Australia doing a pulpit exchange there, and so I feel very close to that place and those people. I have to say that going to Australia was NOT a life long dream; the opportunity presented itself and I just said "why not?". I am so glad I did that. I was prepared to have a good time because I tend to have a good time wherever I go, but I was certainly not prepared for the way the people and that land got into my being. I traded churches with a woman from there; she came to New Brunswick and served my church while I went there and served hers. The Australian parish I served was made up of five little churches in the towns/villages of Ouyen, Walpeup, Underbool, Speed and Patchewollock. I LOVE THOSE PEOPLE!!! They were so kind to me,and so understanding as I somtimes struggled to understand what was being said. My first week there I had to ask for help so that I could decipher the messages on my answering machine! I'm usually good with accents but not that time.
The church was a cooperative parish between the Anglican church and the Uniting Church of Australia (the very same union as our United Church of Canada: the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalist churches. Our union happened in 1925 and theirs 50 years later it was fascinating to see a younger version of the union at work)
I lived in Ouyen, which is in Victoria State, 5 hours from Melbourne. It is wheat growing/sheep farming country and they were (and still are) in the midst of a debilitating drought.
It is an experience i will never every forget. I'll tell you more if you want to know! I can speak for a loooooong time about that.

Posted by Bev

Monday, January 25, 2010

Haitian Disaster Relief - United Church Response

In response to the humanitarian crisis provoked in Haiti by the serious earthquake on Tuesday, January 12th, the United Church of Canada is appealing for donations to support relief and reconstruction efforts. The Church as already committed $20,000 to relief efforts by partners in the region.

Members of ACT Alliance (the network of churches and Christian aid agencies that enables global responses to emergencies) are already in place, assisting those affected by the earthquake. In response to the disaster, Canada initially pledged $5 million in humanitarian aid to Haiti and deployed the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team, known as DART. The Prime Minister has more recently announced that the $5 million cap would be raised.

How United Church People Can Help

  • Pray: Thoughts and prayers from the General Council Office go out to our sisters and brothers who have been affected by the earthquake. United Church members across Canada are urged also to pray for the people who live in affected communities.
  • Donate: You may make a donation in either of two ways:
  • Support the Emergency Response Fund of the United Church of Canada
  • Designate a gift for the "Haiti Appeal". Funds collected will be shared directly with networks in the region.

Cheques and online donations should be made payable to the United Church of Canada and marked 'Haiti Appeal'. The funds will be treated as 'designated gifts'. Please note: Designated gifts cannot be counted as M&S Fund credits. However, they are eligible for tax receipts.

Congregational treasurers may receive and receipt individual cheques and then forward one congregational cheque to the United Church of Canada. Cheque donations made through our local congregation should be made payable to Whitehorse United Church, and marked 'Haiti Appeal'.

At our Annual Financial Meeting yesterday, a motion was passed to contribute the net proceeds of this year's Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper to the Haiti Appeal.

A Prayer Suggestion

Let us call upon our churches to pray and to respond to this devastation, to bow and unite our hearts, praying for:

  • those who lost loved ones
  • those who are missing
  • those who lost their homes, church buildings, and businesses
  • first responders, rescue workers, relief agencies, church aid workers
  • hospitals, doctors, and nurses
  • all those evacuated

(Posted by Hank - with material from Sunday's Church bulletin and the UCC web site)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Disaster Relief Effort

The United Church of Canada has today issued a press release on how the Church will respond, as part of the worldwide church community, to the results of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

The press release can be found on the UCC web site at

The United Church of Canada is also making an appeal to local church congregations to turn their minds to how we can contribute.

I’m making this blog entry for the purpose of turning our minds to this urgent need. Comments are invited.

Posted by Hank

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The December 27, 2009 Church Bulletin

For those who may not have seen the bulletin for Sunday, December 27th., the cover featured another one of Harris Cox’s photos.

The photo is a winter scene from McIntyre Creek in Whitehorse.

Here it is:


Nice job, Harris! What a great way to end 2009 with your photo on all the Sunday service bulletins in United Churches across Canada - and to share a bit of our corner of the country with all those congregations at the same time.

Posted by Hank

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas Eve Pageant

The wonderful Christmas Eve Pageant is now up on the web site!
On the home page you will see the link 'Photo Gallery'. Click on this for the Photo Gallery viewer.

Here are a few tips for using the Photo Gallery viewer:
  • When the viewer opens in a new window it will display either a preview slideshow (with the first five slides of the latest album), or the 'index' page showing small thumbnails of all the albums.

  • If the preview slideshow comes up you can either watch the preview and then click 'index', or click on 'index' right away.

  • Click on the album you want to see, for example if you want to see the Christmas Eve Pageant click on 'album' over that heading.

  • This gives you a view of the first photo in the album and thumbnails of all the rest on the side.

  • If you click on 'Large', you can see the photo without the thumbnails and advance through the photos by clicking 'next'

  • Or, you can simply click on 'slideshow' and watch the photos appear full screen at 3 second intervals.

  • One of the options is also 'details' - choose this if you want to see the captions and text.


Posted by Hank

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Socks

Bev keeps in touch with friends who don’t live in Whitehorse through facebook. Her own daily post always includes something she calls her “Gertie Project”.

She says, "It’s named after my mother who taught me to be thankful for simple things. Each day I list on line five things for which I’m thankful. They range from the grand (eg for life and for the magestic night sky) to the mundane (eg for the smell of coffee in the morning).

One particularly cold day I said 'I’m thankful for warm fuzzy socks.' Then, on a whim, I added 'so if anyone wants to send me any, I like funky colours, so here’s my address!'

THEN my friend Irene suggested turning it into a contest. People would send me socks, at a certain date I would choose the winning pair, keep those, and give the rest to the outreach van.

So that’s what we suggested. My facebook friends were invited to play my sock game. As the socks continued to come in (over 50 pair at the cut off date, with more apparently on the way) I decided that I would like someone else to choose the winning pair, and so the Sunday School children helped to do that the first Sunday of 2010. After much discussion, a neon pink pair with red pom poms was their choice."

The idea here was to pick the most bizarre, interesting, colourful, or even hideous, pair for Bev to keep. The rest to be donated to the Outreach Van.

And, the most popular choice - the pair of 'electric' neon pink socks!

Posted by Hank

Happy New Year!!

With the start of the new year and the new decade, it's a great time for new beginnings. So, this blog has been launched. We hope it can become a place to highlight events, to tell some stories, or share interesting snippets of information. And also to ask some questions and generate discussion through the 'comments' feature unique to a blog.

If you have any suggestions for other things that can be included here, or how our blog may be improved, let us know.

Posted by Hank