A Community of Faith

Good morning

Recently in a conversation I heard the words again “ I don’t have to go to church to believe in God” and my response was , as it always is, that is certainly true. However I think what I should have said was “ That is true enough but there is more to it than simply saying you believe. Being a part of a community of faith provides the opportunity to pool resources and talents; it provides a place to enter into conversation with others and to grow and learn; it provides a safe place to explore faith and to be; it gives strength when you are weak; laughs with you in joy; cradles you in sorrow; challenges you to be the best that you can be; calls you to account when you are wrong; and so much more! Going to church is about uniting your energy with others so that the impossible becomes possible! Going to church is about sharing your understandings and faith with others and being a light in dark places. Going to church is about give and take. It is about discerning together the call of the Universe. It is a place where no one person has to do everything and every person does one thing.”

Graham Standish in his book “ Becoming a Blessed Church” talks about his own experience of church. He names that as a teen he walked away from the church finding that it was a place of hypocrites. As an adult he explored all different schools of thought by reading and researching. He became a counsellor and later quit that job. In the midst of his searching and struggling he questioned where God was in the midst of this. In the middle of his struggles he decided to join a church. He writes “ In joining a church, I became aware of something I had refused to see before. Of course the people in the church were hypocrites. Of course the church was flawed and full of faults. I was just as aware of their faults and flaws as before, but now I recognized something even more important. I was a hypocrite too. I was just as flawed and faulty. What better place was there for me than church? I joined the church because I needed others to join me on my journey, just as I needed to join them on theirs. The funny thing is that after I made the decision I began to experience God more tangibly in my life. Coincidences opened doors that had previously been shut. People came into my life who gave me guidance. I began to experience God all over the place.”

My Faith Community by Valerie Peyton Kingsbury

Each Sunday I stand before this community of faces
Faces that depict many different stories
Stories that tell a tale of celebration and sorrow
Of hope and promise

Each Sunday I stand before you and look into your eyes
Eyes that invite me to be part of your lives
Lives that are incredible examples of determination
Of courage and of love

Each Sunday I am transformed by God’s power
Power that can touch and fill the soul with love
Love that empowers and enables
Creating space for justice to grow

So do you have to go to church to believe in God? No, but being a part of church, of something greater than yourself, makes that presence of the Sacred more tangible and opens doors. Why would one choose not to be part of something this amazing!!


Reminders of the Week

Question of Faith for this week – Do we believe in reincarnation? Join us for worship at 10:30 Sunday and discover what I have learned.

Youth Group – Meet in the church parking lot at 6:00 on Sunday evening for our trip to Brookfield

Fundscrip is due on Thursday!!

November 9th – Remembrance Service
November 15th – Pancake Breakfast
November 16th – Anniversary Sunday, Guest Preacher, Janice MacLean Conference Minster of Christian Life and Growth. Lunch will follow . Just bring yourselves and perhaps a friend and enjoy!!!

A Day to Celebrate

Good Morning all!     ~ Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

This coming Sunday is, in Canada, known as Mother’s Day. In recent years, in some Christian communities, there have been attempts to change mother’s day to Christian Family Sunday. There are a number of reasons for this, not all of which I understand. However, as I sat and thought about this day I began to wonder about its origins. So I decided to ask Google. It was a fascinating journey and a day to honour mothers is not a recent phenomenon! The ancient Greeks and Romans held a spring festival dedicated to maternal goddesses. In the 1600’s in England Mothering Sunday was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The service focused on Mary the Mother of Jesus and at the end of the service children were encouraged to bring flowers and gifts to honour their own mothers. What really grabbed my attention though was the fact that a Mother’s Day celebration in the Western world was suggested by Julia Ward in 1872. She was an activist, poet and writer and she wanted June 2nd to be celebrated annually as mother’s day and dedicated to peace. She made a passionate plea to all women to rise up against war. She however is not recognized as the Founder of Mother’s Day. That honour is afforded to Anna Jarvis who lobbied diligently for this day based on the desire of her own mother who was an activist and social worker who dreamed that someday all mothers would be honoured and that their contributions would be celebrated.

I know that part of the reason for wanting to move away from Mother’s Day is that not all people have good mothers, not all women are mothers in the biological sense, some children in today’s family configuration do not have someone they know as mother but have two fathers. There is the school of thought that perhaps by emulating mothers some will feel left out, or will be inundated by images that are not good. Then there are those who feel we need to do away with all distinctions that will separate men and women .While each of these reason may hold merit I must admit that I am still a proponent of Mother’s Day.

I believe that this is a day to celebrate the women in our lives, past and present, whose example has made the world a better place. There are many kinds of mothers – I have my biological mother who has played an integral role in who I have become however I have other women who have held a place of support and encouragement in my life. Each of them has gifted me with something unique and special and they have modeled for me the essence of what it is to be a woman and a mother.

I also really like the idea that this celebration of women has its roots in ancient times and that it is rooted in activism and peace.

So today I celebrate the mothers on my journey who …
• have shown me strength, determination and grace.
• have made it possible for me to have a voice
• have created the firm foundation on which I can stand.
• have challenged me to grow and learn and change
• have surrounded me with love
• have healed my wounds
• have been the face of Christ for me


Reminders of the Week:
Sunday Afternoon 3pm – Nova Voce with Cantabile Singers.
New Comers Dinner tonight

A Difficult Time BUT . . .

Good morning all

This morning I spent some time reading the response of the Toronto Conference regarding the review of Rev. Greta Vosper. Then the comments posted about that decision. Toronto Conference has called upon the National Church to conduct a formal hearing and then a final decision will be made. This is a difficult time for the church but it is also a time of growing and refining who we are and what we believe. As I read the comments I was struck again by the fact that we really are a diverse church and this is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. For those who believe that Greta should leave the church the answer is clear and for those who believe she should stay the answer is just as clear. Then I began to think, isn’t this the case with almost everything that we deal with in life? The answers are never easy. There are always two sides (or more) to every story. The stand we take is influenced by what we have been taught, what we believe, the culture that has been ours. For those who find themselves in the position of having to make a ruling on this issue, I pray courage, strength and grace.

For those of us who are watching and listening perhaps this might be a time to think about what it is that we believe. Ultimately this is something that we should be continually doing as we move and grow and strive to become. As a result of what is happening to Greta Vosper, some are suggesting that we can no longer talk openly about our beliefs, particularly if they differ from the mainstream, or what is understood to be the party line. I would suggest that the opposite is true. Now is the time for us to talk openly and honestly, to explore more diligently. It is only when we do this that we are really able to understand who we are.

My prayer is that we, who journey together in faith, might never be afraid to ask our questions, share our doubts, face our fears, and be open to diversity.


Reminders of the Week

This Sunday is World Wide Communion and we will be joined by the Truro Fire Bridgade

Thanksgiving Sunday, October 9th, 10:30 am at CEC. Combined worship with the churches of Truro Presbytery with guest preacher Rt Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator of the United Church of Canada.

Saturday, October 1st – 9-noon. Music Workshop in Memorial Hall. Come, learn something about your own voice, share in some of the music that Chris and I have created over the past couple of years and learn the anthem for the Thanksgiving Service! All Are Welcome!! And its Free!!

Saturday, October 22nd – 9am – 4pm Craft Market in Memorial Hall. Come, browse, do your Christmas Shopping!!!!

In preparation for this we are trying something new this year A Pie Table! And we need your help! If you are willing to bake a pie you will be provided with a bag of apples, plate and a pie box. These will be available after our morning worship on October 16th or contact myself or Ann MacCormack and we will see that you get supplies.

Saturday November 5th – 9am – 1pm Paper Drive! Drop Off Only at Young Street.

Nut Aware! We have an increase in the number of children’s groups that are now meeting weekly in the church hall. It has come to our attention that among them are those who have peanut allergies. With that in mind we would like to encourage everyone to be aware of this and make an effort to create a safe space for those who gather here. Please do not bring nuts or food with nuts into Memorial Hall.

a droplet of rain

A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, my Friend Anne and I went for a walk in Victoria Park. It was an amazing hike and the beauty of creation surrounded us and filled us with a sense of passion and joy. On the way out of the park I took a picture and made the comment “ There is a sermon in this picture “. That has stayed with me and I have returned to this picture a number of times in the busyness of these last two weeks. There is something about running water as it makes its way over rocks and around bends that speaks to my soul and provides a sense of peace. Perhaps it is the notion that as the water runs it cleanses and washes away the dirt and grime. Perhaps it is knowing that the river is going somewhere, joyful in the journey that takes it to the sea. Ultimately, for me it is a combination of these things and even some things that I do not fully understand. The river has always been my place of refuge, renewal, rest and empowerment.

I remember preaching a sermon a number of years ago about the Exploits River that weaves its way through the interior of Newfoundland. A vehicle to transport people and goods, a place where the Salmon come to spawn, logs have been transported to the mill and created into other things and so much more. After that sermon a friend of mine, also from Newfoundland, gave me a tile creation that she made with a picture and a verse on it. It reads “ As long as I live, if I can choose where I live, I’ll be in a place that has a window looking out on a river. What makes a river so restful to people is it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure where it is going and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Then a few weeks ago when we talked about reincarnation or the transmigration of the soul I shared this wonderful story found in Sikhism :

Think of God as an ocean and our soul as a droplet of water. The water droplet is separated from the ocean. The droplets come on land in the form of rain. We are like those rain droplets; we have been separated from God and have been born in this world. The dignity of the rain droplet lies in merging back in the ocean. Just like those rain droplets the main purpose of our souls is to merge back with God, to be One with Him. Our soul suffers from pain of birth and death and this pain can be ended by attaining salvation, merging in God. Gurus are like rivers, if the rain droplets follow the river, they can reach the ocean. So, if we follow our Gurus, we can meet God. Once a soul merges in God, it achieves salvation, gets rid of birth and death and all the suffering of this world. That soul becomes one with God.

So today as I sit at my desk and watch the snow gently falling outside my window, my mind filled with all of the things that need to get done, it is to the river that I turn. I join with it and find there a place of peace and oneness with the Universe.


Reminders of the Week:

I will be away on Study leave from November 24 -29. Roger and Chris are on deck and only a phone call away. Take care of each other!

Sunday 10:30 – Worship The Question for this week “ Bad things happen to good people. Where is God in the midst of this? How do we deal with loss, death, tragedy in our journey of faith?”

Following worship – brown bag lunch. If you would like to continue the conversation around any of the questions we have been exploring. Bring a lunch and stay for a while after the service and we will explore some more. The questions that we have dealt with so far are : What is the Bible? Who is Jesus? Which is more important, what we believe or what we do? Why do we do what we do as the United Church of Canada? How do we pray the Lord’s prayer with authenticity? Is there such a thing as reincarnation? Why do we remember? And How do we as a church share our joy and passion outside our church doors?

A Future That Is Scary BUT We Have A Choice

Good morning all ~ Wednesday, November 9th , 2016

Like so many others this morning I awoke to the news of the election results in the USA. On Facebook I read the countless posts of shock, horror, fear, uncertainty. It is difficult to fathom how someone whose words have embodied such hatred and covered every “ism” possible can now be the incoming President of one of the most powerful countries in the world. When the sun rose on this day the light was indeed blotted out and we face a future that is scary. For many the last comments of Jack Layton hold up a vision of hope “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” For me the words of Jesus rang in my ears “ Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

In just a few short weeks we will begin the season of advent, some will celebrate Chanukah, others Kwanzaa and still others the Winter Solstice. Each will focus on light that overcomes darkness, the values of community, integrity, unity and a deep connection to a universal energy that we call divine. As people of faith we have a choice – unite our energies with the energy of the universe to affect light, life and change or throw up our hands in despair and walk away.

I choose to do the former. Now is the time to speak loudly and act boldly to give voice and body to justice. The future ahead is uncertain but it has always been thus and we are called to step out into the unknown, like our ancestors before us. We spend time in the wilderness or climb the mountain or sit a while in the garden to replenish our souls and gain strength for the journey. Then we move out into the market place to touch, hold , heal and reconcile. We speak the truth as we walk the path of justice and peace.

One of my favourite books is called “ Wisdom is Calling”. In it I have often found the words I need to hear, the challenge that inspires me to action and today was no different. I leave you with the words of a piece called “The view from the mountain” by Amado L Picardal of the Philippines

The View From The Mountain

In the silence and solitude of this mountain
I sit still surveying the scene.
I see no burning bush nor do I hear a thundering voice.
From this vantage I look at the sight below.
I hear the ascending cry of millions of anguished voices.

In the silence and solitude of the mountain
I gaze intently at your reality no longer with myopic vision
But with a higher, wider, deeper eye view.

The purge goes on within.
I am emptying myself completely
To allow you to penetrate the deepest part of me.
The more I become one with you
The more I fathom your liberating will, the more I see with your eyes
Hear with your ears, feel with your heart
And walk with your strength.

In the silence and communion of this mountain I see no beatific vision,
Only the sight below: our people enslaved and starving.
I feel no ecstasy, only the agony of seeing them
Exploited and dehumanized.

I cannot levitate. I cannot go up another higher story.
I have to go down and meet you on level ground
So that I may walk with you and other people
In their exodus from this no man’s land towards the promised land.

How I wish I could pitch my tent
Or build my mansion on this beautiful mountain.
But my true home is somewhere down below where the people are
And where they are going.
This mountain can only be a pace of rendezvous with my deeper self
And with the absolute you,
So that I can sharpen my vision and clarify my mission.

There will be other mountains to climb along the way.

Let us continue to walk in faith, live in love and speak justice in the land.


Reminders of the Week

Joyful Noise! Gather at 10am on Sunday around the Piano for practice

November 20th Anniversary Sunday. Pot Luck following worship. Bring something to add to the table and we will all be fed!

Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra – November 19th at 3pm

A Glimpse of the Sacred

Good afternoon!!

On Saturday I had the privilege of celebrating a wedding on the beach with a family from our congregation. It was amazing! The sun was shining, a slight breeze blowing and people gathered from all over. Some came from as far away as Florida for this gathering. When I arrived people were sitting in chairs around the property, laughing and chatting. Some people were on the beach enjoying the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait. Some were tossing balls or just running through the grass. People of all ages, shapes and sizes gathered to celebrate. AS I mingled with those gathered and took in the scene before me I could not help but think “ Now this is a slice of paradise!”. I was reminded of the story in the gospel named for Matthew where Jesus talks about the Divine Realm being like a wedding banquet. Here , in this moment, I believe we truly experienced something sacred and were given a glimpse of the world as it should be.

After the wedding I headed back to Truro to attend a concert that was taking place at the church – Alan Syliboy and the Thundermakers. Now I will admit that there was a part of me that was simply ready to go home and call it a day but I felt I needed to be present at the church so that is where I went. And I am blessed because I did! What an evening of deep spirit, the thinning of the veil between human and Divine, and food for the soul. The evening began with two young dancers from the Mi’kmaq community. One was a “Jingle Dancer” and we were told that these are dances of healing. The other was a “Butterfly Dancer” whose dance is done in celebration and gratitude. To watch them move transported one to another place. I could feel the power of their movements and joy of creation. I took some pictures as they danced and this is my favourite:



Following this came the offering of the band . There were many things that were exceptional about this but one that I want to reflect on briefly. The lead singer invited us to experience a prayer chant in the Mi’kmaq tradition. Before he began he explained that when the Mi’kmaq people sing a prayer chant they do not use words because they believe that the Creator does not speak as we do. The Creator speaks the language of the heart and so we must pray with the heart. Then the community drum began to beat, accompanied by some sounds from the stringed instruments that are difficult to explain and then Mr. Francis began to chant. Within moments I could feel the energy in the room change and there was a connection with something beyond this physical realm. The haunting sound simply filled the air and I could feel an embrace that was peaceful and comforting. For a brief moment I was cradled in the arms of love and my soul rejoiced.

While Jesus never talked about this as being the Divine Realm, in this moment I have no doubt that we were given a glimpse of the sacred and Divine and human met.



A Green Thumb

Good morning!

This morning as I sat with my coffee and listened to the Global morning show there was an interview about gardening. It is that time of year again when people are thinking about planting seeds, whether that be produce or flowers. As the ground is being prepared outside many are already making seeds ready on the inside. Growing something takes time and effort. It requires care and attention, for the most part. Now if you are the kind of gardener that I happen to be, you are constantly surprised at the things that grow despite you!! I don’t have what people refer to as “a green thumb”. However, I am blessed by those who have gone before me. They have planted my gardens and made sure that it is with flowers that, once rooted, will grow every year! As I clear away the debris of the previous season, there are already green sprouts coming from the earth nurtured by the Divine. Yet even with these, I must do some work to allow them to continue to survive.

We have just travelled through the Easter season and been to the tomb. The seed of hope has been planted. There is wonder and joy! But just like gardening, it is not as simple as that. It takes care and attention, time and effort, for the reality of Easter to take firm root in the soil of our souls. Fortunately, a lot of work has already been done for us by those who have gone before! Their experiences fill our souls allowing new life in each of us to grow to fullest flower! For the disciples, the reality of the empty tomb did not take immediate root. There was the initial joy and amazement but then came the questions, doubts and uncertainties. Into this came the “green thumb “of divine providing reinforcement and care – encounters with the risen Christ experienced in moments like the stranger on the road to Emmaus; or cooking breakfast on the shore; or the presence in the upper room; or the wind of Spirit that blew on the day of Pentecost. All of these provided the care needed for the seeds of Easter Sunday to take deep root.

Now that we have been to the tomb the real work of Easter begins! The seed is planted and we must open ourselves to the sun and rain of Divine presence that can bring it to life. Nurtured and tended by the experiences of our ancestors and added to by the encounters that we have of the Christ in our midst today, we can indeed become deeply rooted and truly free!

Just like our gardens, when they bloom, we too can bring peace and joy and wonder to the earth when the reality of resurrection is revealed in us.


Reminders of the Week!!

Our youth talent XTRAVAGANZA!!! Saturday April 2nd at 3pm. If you have not yet purchased your ticket, have no fear!! Tickets are still available in the office through the week or at the door on Saturday! And if you miss this week, there will be a second showing on April 10th at 3pm!!!

AS many of you experienced on Good Friday our new sound system is installed and in use. The system will be dedicated at a special service in May!

A Harvest of Thanksgiving

Good morning to my wonderful faith family!

 As we approach thanksgiving my heart is filled with thanks for each of you. I cannot help but be caught up in the thought of how blessed I really am. I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, different and unique, yet each one of you filled with the grace and wonder of God. As I look out my window this morning and see the sun shining brilliantly on the changing face of creation my soul is also filled with the joy and wonder of the Divine present in the universe.

 God’s creation is an amazing thing indeed. Always moving, always changing infused with the wonder of a mystery beyond our comprehension. Since being off, I have been reading some works by Bruce Sanguin and have found his words to be empowering . Finally, someone who speaks the words of my heart! I share with you this morning a prayer he wrote based on Psalm 19 called “A Harvest of Quirkiness”


Gracious God,

How can creation sing your praises

Except  with the red wings of blackbirds

Flying across the blue sky,

And the croak  and splash of frogs

Playing hide-and-seek in the ponds?

How can the firmament proclaim your handiwork,

Except in the wagging tail of a puppy,

And the focused attention of a toddler

Soaking in the wonder of all?

How can the heavens proclaim your glory,

E3xcept through a morning sun rising upon gold-green grass,

Lighting up the face of lovers as Earth spins then

Once more into a new day?

Your beauty and goodness, O immanent One,

Requires Earth’s diversity

And our own wildness.

Breaking down- and out of-

The monotony of prescribes patterns,

Choosing rather to take our place

In the dancing procession

Of differentness

The variegated life of Christ finding expression

In this body of the church

And the bodies of our kin-creatures.

Make a harvest, O Holy One.

Of our quirkiness

That we might be your radiant presence. Amen




Reminders of the Week


Don’t forget that this coming Sunday is Thanksgiving and as we give thanks for the harvest we are encouraged to share that harvest with others. Donations for the food bank can be placed at the front of the church.  REMEMBER THE CHALLENGE –  MORE THAN LAST YEAR!

a letter to our Muslim brothers and sisters

To our Muslim brothers and sisters;

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this letter today. On behalf of the members of First United Church I extend to you a hand of friendship and support. We grieve with you and the members of your community over the recent shooting in the Mosque in Quebec City. Fear and hatred are very much a reality in our world but we would like you to know that love and acceptance are also very real and we stand with you in solidarity.

For the families of those who died we pray comfort and peace. We unite our energy with the energy of the universe to affect light and life and change in what is a broken and a hurting world.

Peace and Blessings be with you.

In love and respect

Rev. Valerie Kingsbury

A Move into Adulthood

This morning as I scrolled through Facebook I saw pictures galore of amazing young men and women dressed for prom. This is graduation week for many. Such a sense of accomplishment which is paired no doubt with some apprehension. High school is over and now a new chapter begins. Some are headed off to another round of school, others are taking up jobs and perhaps moving out on their own for the first time. Whatever tomorrow holds this is also a move into adulthood with different responsibilities and new adventures.

In the book of Ecclessiastes chapter three we find these words:
” what do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the business that the Divine has given to humanity. Everything has been made beautiful in its time and eternity has been set in our hearts yet we cannot fathom from the beginning to the end. I do know that there is nothing better than for us to be happy and do good while we live. we should eat and drink and take pleasure in all our toil for this is the divine gift”

For those who are graduating this week I offer these words to you as you move into this part of your journey. There are so many possibilities that lie just beyond the horizon waiting for you to discover. My prayer for each of you is that you will step out in faith, be willing to risk, and embrace what life has to offer. May you have strength for the difficult parts of the journey and the courage to be all that you are created to be.

For those of you who are not graduating but perhaps facing a different transition I offer these words as reminder that life, despite the difficulties, is good. May you have the strength to see beyond the dark times and to embrace the light that is divine gift. May you be open to the surprises that come with the dawn of each new day and may you be all that you are created to be.