Our synodical president, Joy Randall, has written a letter to all groups letting us know about the events and decisions of the 2015 Synodical Annual Meeting and the Biennial National Council Meeting of the WMS held this spring. This letter was circulated to all presbyterials for their distribution to all the groups in their bounds. If you did not receive the letter, or wish to reread the letter, it has been attached to this blog posting.
Also, included in this blog posting is the booklet of reports to the Synodical Annual Meeting so you can read about the work of the groups and presbyterials of the synodical and see the wonderful things that so many are doing.
The Presbyterial of Kingston met recently and considered the theme “Be Strong – Be Courageous” in mission and in bible study. The following is a short study on the passage from which the presbyterial found their theme. Take some time to reflect on the passage itself. What words and phrases leap off of the page for you? What questions do you have about the circumstances of Joshua’s call to lead the people of Israel into the promised land? What are the challenges ahead of him? What will be the key to his success?
Then go ahead and read the brief commentary following the passage and consider the questions that follow.
You will then be invited to pray using one or more of the prayer practices included. Each practice invites us into contemplation and consideration of the our own need for strength and courage and the needs of those around us and throughout the world.
Have a look through this reading list prepared for the 2015 annual meeting of the WMS Synodical of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda. You will find some great children’s reading books, some key Christian education texts for church leaders to consider, and some wonderful addition options if your group is looking for some additional study materials. I hope you will find something for yourself and something for a leader in your church community to enjoy and grow with. Happy reading!
Dear Presbyterials, WMS Groups & Friends of WMS,
During preparations for our April synodical annual meeting and at recent executive meetings, we were made aware of concerns expressed by individuals and groups for a better understanding of today’s WMS. This letter is to let you know that we ‘are listening’ to you.
We want you to be open and share your ideas and suggestions. Please continue to do this. As an executive, we will discuss what is needed to improve our organization. We will strive to think of new ways to keep the information lines open. We will work with you towards making necessary changes to keep WMS a vital organization, both meaningful and rewarding for all.
We are most appreciative of the faithful commitment and dedication of our members to the WMS, its purpose and goals. God has been working through us both locally, nationally and internationally over the past 100 years. We have met many challenges through the years, and we honour those who overcame them as they worked together to further God’s mission.
Today, our challenges are different and our approach may need to be different as well. We know that our groups are getting smaller. Some have ceased being WMS groups, but still contribute in other ways. Our members are getting older and are worried that they can not meet these challenges. We understand and hear what you are saying. We see the different needs facing us today, both locally and throughout the world.
We realize that it is difficult for some groups and presbyterials to fulfill their financial objectives. There are more demands on us today. It worries us when we see so many people and countries having difficulties. Our hearts ache for them, and we want to give more. We want you to know that we are thankful for what each person, group and presbyterial gives. We know that God blesses the gift and giver and we are thankful for all that you are able to do to help others.
We think of the past, and feel that we still should meet as we always have. Today there are changes in our world and in our Society, and the reality is that change in our groups is needed. Our groups are smaller and less able to find enough people to take on the responsibilities of officers. We realize this. Do we really need them all? It depends on the makeup of your group. We wish to stress that it is not necessary to have all the officers that we used to have. Each
group or presbyterial should decide what works best for it. We should stress that in order for presbyterials and the synodical to keep in touch and be able to communicate better, there should be a contact person.
At a recent meeting with Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation for our synod, we discussed various models that presbyterials or groups might consider for executive positions and functions. They should be appropriate to your size and ability to fill these positions. Our deepest desire is to feel energized by the fellowship and study that your group provides. We hope that you would not feel burdened by an obligation to fill numerous positions that may no longer meet your group’s individual needs.
Remember, whichever way you choose, a contact person is needed. Then we are able to keep in touch and keep the communication lines open.
If your presbyterial or groups are feeling anxious about officers, or other aspect of functioning well, please feel free to contact the executive, Tori Smit, or myself. We would be delighted to lend you a hand. We can see what best fits your needs and make some suggestions.
We will continue to keep you in our prayers and will help in anyway that we can.
May God continue to bless us and keep us faithful to our purpose and mission. Please do keep in touch with us often and let us know how we can help you. We want to keep the communication lines open.
President of WMS CNOB Synodical
Phone 904 372 6075
PS I will be away in Taiwan to attend the 150 Anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan from March 30 – April 11th, 2015. Look forward to seeing many of you at Synodical and if you have any questions will be happy to talk with you at that time.
Spiritual practices and disciplines have gained a lot of attention in the mainline church over these last few years. Many are rediscovering the spiritual practices of an earlier church and in testing out these practices people are discovering through the ritual of disciplined prayer, reading of scripture and meditation they are able to experience God in new and meaning-filled ways. In this workshop/ experience we will go back further than the early or medieval Christian Church and rediscover some of the spiritual practices of our Jewish heritage.
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner has inspired this exploration of Jewish spiritual practices. Following her conversion to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism, Winner found herself missing the richness of the traditional spiritual practices of her Jewish heritage. She wrote Mudhouse Sabbath to reconsider these meaning-filled practices through a Christian lens inviting readers to transform the way the view the world and God. Practices of Sabbath Keeping, Hospitality, Mourning, and Fasting are among the eleven practices explored in her book.
In this workshop I have selected five of the spiritual practices she considers in her book. Each practice can be explored through a learning centre as an individual or as a group. Each spiritual practice is considered through handouts outlining background information, questions for reflection and/or discussion, and detailed instructions for an activity which has been designed to invite participants to ‘test out’ the practice before leaving the centre and moving on to consider another practice. Participants can explore as many or as few practices as they wish, taking all the time they need to experience the practice as fully as needed to repeat it at home. Multiple copies of the files can be photocopied for participants to take them home and reinforce the practice as they wish.
You will find five individual attachments included, one per centre. In each attachment you will find a supply list for the centre, a sheet of condensed background information, a sheet of questions for individuals to reflect upon or the group to discuss, and instructions for the activity(ies) that go with that practice. Choose to use all the centres,or explore one each time you gather.
Each spring WMS groups, presbyterials and synodical install newly elected officers into executive positions of the Women’s Missionary Society for the upcoming season. At annual meetings across the synodical officers are installed through special services that ask both the executive officers and the WMS members to together make a covenant with God for the work and witness ahead of them. Each year this installation service reminds us that the work that we do is not our own, but is God’s. In this service of installation for 2015 you will find the keynote text for the April Annual meeting of Synodical, Mark 4:26-29, used to remind us all that while we work for the kingdom of God, it is God that is the one that brings life to this garden, who grows this garden, and brings it to harvest. Please feel free to use this service of installation with your group, presbyterial or synodical as you commit to this season ahead.