More and more people are being vaccinated and by fall, surely, we should be able to return to our church building, but will there be anyone there? Will there be anyone to take up collection and help count the offering and to do all the various tasks it takes for us to have a service? Over the past months, I've asked for volunteers. A few offered to read Scripture and some to light the Christ Candle during our Zoom services, but what about when we are back together again?
What about our fundraisers? Will we have any? If not, how do we pay our bills and maintain our building and the manse (which requires numerous repairs)? Where are the family members in our Aylmer United Church family? I don't know about when you were growing up, but when I was, we all had roles to play and chores to do and were active in church work as well - teaching Sunday School, washing dishes, making loaves and loaves of sandwiches and baking for teas and sales, funerals and special occasions, baking for dinners and pot-luck meals. What has happened to us in the congregation of Aylmer United Church. I think - just my opinion - but too few people have taken on the burdens for the rest.
How many (other than those who have been doing it for years) will write to say "Count me in, I'll do it." when we ask for someone to organize a Christmas Bazaar or dinner, or to help in all the many ways needed. Should I hold my breath?
As Chair of our Church Council, I want to keep this congregation together, but I wonder how with about 30 coming to our Zoom services - and several of them not part of our congregation. What more can I do than I am doing? What more can your Council do?
Looking forward to hearing from you (firstname.lastname@example.org or 819-685-0656).
The greatest gardener of all is God the Almighty, the Creator of all things.
At Coffee Fellowship on Sundays since spring arrived, we often talk about gardening and I offered to send the link to the daily gardening message I receive from The Old Farmer's Almanac and here it is Sign Up for The Almanac Daily Companion. It is full of interesting things about planning, planting, harvesting, insects - good and bad - and has nice recipes. I enjoy reading it each morning.
Are you ready - are you ready to harvest what you sow? We don't have to plant actual seeds and raise flowers, vegetables, and trees to sow - we can sow our good deeds and share our beliefs as we walk God's paths and hopefully grow our church. Remember the parable of the good seed?
There are so many people who do just that and work for all the rest of us in so many ways to keep our United Church of Canada functioning. This past week on Wednesday, I participated in the EOORC (Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Council that replaced the Ottawa Presbytery) Zoom United Church Women (UCW) Annual General Meeting with approximately 50 women who live throughout the region. I've met many of the women in person at UCW Fellowship Days and what an amazing group of women.
On Friday and Saturday, I was again at the computer attending the Zoom EOORC AGM (so many acronyms!). There were about 200 people at the meetings and I was amazed at how many I knew at least by name and how many I had actually met through the years. There was a great deal of discussion and many motions passed. In spite of the pandemic, the work of the church goes on. We are truly blessed to have so many dedicated people working on our behalf, sitting on committees and representing their churches at local, regional and national levels.
Then on Sunday, more Zoom with church and coffee fellowship with Patricia Power. Our numbers were lower than usual - hopefully people were celebrating their mothers and will come out next Sunday.
Let's sow our Aylmer United Church garden and see it grow by coming to church via Zoom - there is lots of room in the garden for you and yours.
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday.
When I am out in the garden, I feel surrounded by the wonders of nature - from snow and ice, now the grass is green and the front lawn already mowed - and it's still April! A Blue Jay visits off and on during the day as do the squirrels racing around in our maple tree and in the hedges. The sticks that are raspberry canes have leafed out giving hope of a bounty of berries later in the summer. Perennials for the most part are showing signs of life and some are keeping me guessing as they do every year. Did they survive the winter? Time will tell! We indeed live in God's wondrous world.
There is so much rebirth in spring - plants and hopefully our spirits. Yes, it's a difficult time now with Covid-19. These times come into our lives from time to time and humanity has survived. When I read the Bible, especially the Old Testament and of various sects wiping each other out, I am amazed that there are any people left. It seems that God was vengeful back then. There were the plagues and floods and other catastrophes brought forth to encourage people to put aside idols and other gods and to believe only in Him.
Do you ever wonder whether we are being tested now? I wish He would send angels or speak out loud to us from Heaven - something to make us stop and look up and pay attention. I wonder whether, if he were to send another son or even a daughter to lead us back to Him, whether anyone would listen.
Have we strayed from Him?
Is it my imagination or is our weather more like May than April? My tulip leaves are getting big and other spring bulbs are growing, too. Our neighbour's crocus are blooming. Isn't nature amazing!
"This is God's wondrous world" is the beginning of a favourite hymn. We are so truly blessed. For those who love to go on walks, I expect you are noticing the changes taking place. Look around and see all the new growth - amazing!
Last fall, we brought in two tomato plants and they have survived the winter. More than survived, they have multiplied. As they became too tall for their space, I took cuttings and put them in water. Not all survived, but some did and so now I have more tomato plants - and these, too, are getting too tall. I'll cut and root them to plant as well. It's a good thing that Paul and I and our neighbours like tomatoes.
This year, while I'm itching to rake the last fall's leaves from the garden beds, I am more aware that bees and other insects have been overwintering there and need time to develop before being disturbed. How long should I wait I wonder. I don't want to smother plants that are looking for sunlight. However, with our chilly nights, I will wait (impatiently) and get on with edging beds and some of the other tasks I can do in the meantime.
One of those is turning the compost. Last fall I covered the composting area with a large tarp. In past years, the pile would take ages and ages to thaw out. This year after removing the tarp, I was pleasantly surprised to dig into the pile and found it totally thawed. Now there is no excuse for getting to that pile, turning it, and moving the finished compost to garden beds.
I hope that you, too, have passions that keep you happy and occupied.
Have a blessed spring.
As members of our congregation, we have a shared responsibility. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinions and to be heard. Obviously, where opinions differ, common ground needs to be found. Our Council members have volunteered to work on behalf of their fellow congregants, but they need to know that the congregation wants. Obviously, we would all want to stay in our church building and carry on; however, financially, we cannot afford to do so as things stand while at the same time doing the work of the church - mission, outreach, and so much more.
A few weeks ago, I raised some questions - and they are included here again as only 11 answers were received. In answering them, please consider that we are facing a deficit this year and do not have the fundraising ability to maintain the church or to hire a minister.
1. Do you want our congregation to continue?
2. If yes, shall we sell the building and rent elsewhere? The option if the majority say No to question one or are silent is to hand our buildings and properties to the United Church of Canada.
3. If you answer "yes" to Question 1, then will you commit to sitting on a committee or on Council, or to organizing an ongoing event such as Bible study, i.e., to further the work of the church?
4. If you answer "no" to Question 2, then how do you propose we pay for the new furnace, boiler, water heater, and replacing drafty windows and doors?
Looking forward to your answers. Send them to my email or call me at 819-685-0656 to discuss them.
The setting moon’s opalescent light has woken me twice in the last week. It will be a full moon tomorrow. Sleeping in a tent at the fullness of the moon, it was the rustling of small bodies in leaves that would wake me. Sometimes, lying awake, having moved into the centre of the tent floor and having unzipped the sleeping bag cocoon, and holding my Swiss Army Knife these rustlings became the sound of large bodies snuffling and pushing aside bushes and rootling around the camp fire, knocking around the old oven rack, the iron frying pan that was always set upside down to dry, the tin bowl, the much chipped enamelled white and blue mug, and the metal fork and spoon. Sometimes, in the morning, the tracks around the camp site were not those of chipmunk, squirrel, or raccoon. On the tip of the isthmus in Algonquin Park’s Opalescent Lake, the rising sun’s raking light put into high relief the paw prints of the mother Black Bear and her cub. In the lee of a Machair covered shell sand dune on Vatersay, in the Outer Hebrides the tracks were those of a red bull protecting his coos from my cooking gas by forking the cylinder down the hill with his Caledonia horns, the points of which had made seed drills amongst the six inch, wind sized purple harebells, yellow butter and eggs, and the yellow centred white daisies. I patted the plant mat into place and dribbled water from my hiking bottle onto the damaged protected species, all the while keeping a weather eye on the sire and his coos grazing out of the wind, down near the bottom of the gale gouged hollow. The moonscape meteor crater fitted the other worldly aspect of this Hebridean world. The golden corn globe of the Harvest Moon rising over the south-east end of Paugan Reservoir mesmerised me. On the verge of sleep, turning to unzip the tent, the green, yellow, white, and unusually, the red and orange Northern Lights leapt and swirled, engulfing me in the Northern Peoples’ stories of being swept up and kidnapped by them, of it being deathly bad luck to summon them by whistling, of being either cured or cursed by their sound and vibration, or of being the omen of mysteries that must always remain untold. This last week there were no hard rustlings of metallic creatures travelling their trails. There were no sharp, metallic, warning barks. I heard one whispered meow. The opalescent light soothed my unease in the absence of accustomed sharp edged sound. I heard a living, breathing furry creature, wakened as was I by the moonlight, giving voice while I too was awake.
When will spring come - will it be a long drawn-out end to winter or suddenly be spring with blooming daffodils and forsythia! Personally, I'm hoping for an early spring so I can start working in my garden.
The day, too, will come when we can return to our church building. I wonder how many people will return to worship. Like many who read this, I miss gathering with our church family and singing together to Lynn's playing. However, personally, during the winter months, I was more than glad to not have to put on a coat, boots and gloves, clean the car and clear the driveway to go to church.
Thankfully, we have a Covid-19 Team who have been researching the latest information on the rules regarding gathering. While the Premier says we can gather, he doesn't outline all the steps required regarding sanitizing, spacing, entering and leaving, cleaning of bathrooms between uses - or tell us who will do all that. Only one person and they in their 80s volunteered when we asked for volunteers to enable us to open.
So, for the foreseeable future while Covid-19 exists, we remain closed. Remember - a person who has received the Covid-19 vaccination can still catch Covid-19 (but just not be as sick as they might have been without the vaccine) and can still spread it to others. I, for one, would not want to see any one of our members becoming sick or worse dying because we gathered together too soon.
I am so truly blessed in so many ways. Yesterday (Tuesday), I went out to start working on clearing snow. Shortly after, I was joined by three of my neighbours with their snow blowers and working together before long our driveway and the neighbours which abuts it were cleared out. It shows what the pooling of resources and having many hands sharing the load can accomplish. I do hope that you, too, have family, friends and neighbours who help you who are there for you.
Last evening (Tuesday), I was blessed again with the support of the members of Church Council. As many of you no doubt know, I was elected Chair at our February Annual General Meeting. Each member of Council has taken on a number of issues. We can all use your support. If you would like to "share the load" by joining a committee or taking on lending your experience or expertise, it would be greatly appreciated. We need people to help us work through a cost-effective way to have internet/Wi-fi in the church building, to help us figure out how to keep our phone number, but not have a $60+ a month phone bill, and to work on many more issues like our ancient boiler and old (about 22-years-old) water heater. If either lets us down during very cold weather, we could be facing flooding (again!).
Did you know that snow comes through our side doors and that the breeze blows through the windows in the parlor? Oh, and then there is the roof and west side of the manse that need repairs - which we have postponed for yet another year due to lack of funds. Our Building and Assets Management committee has been asked to come up with a 5-year plan for tackling issues. If you have any issues with our building, please let Earl New know or send a message to Ellen.
Sometimes I wonder whether we should sell the building - because there are many major issues - and rent or buy or build new. The funds from a sale could provide us with money to pay a minister, to have the internet and to enable us to do outreach projects. Something to think about. Your feedback would be appreciated. If you want to stay in the current building, some ideas on how to fund the repairs and maintenance would be appreciated.
Long ago, the founders of our church built what was then known as the Methodist Chapel and is now the Aylmer Heritage building on rue Golf. At some point, they realized a need to move on to a building that better suited their needs. Is it time for us to follow in their footsteps and take the leap of faith and move?
Council really does want to hear from you and to have your input. Would you please let us know what you think - you can talk with me or any member of Council.
Next week: Council Special Report. Please watch for it.
February 12, 2021 Steph Wakelin
Chinese new Year is a special celebration in my family. It started with cleaning in preparation for the special event - year of the Ox - then the celebration itself. Much like Christmas 2020 due to Covid it was one of pickups and drop offs. Fun just the same.
❤ A favourite memory of mine is when our church held the International Food Fair and Concerts over the years. Jack Chow (and Karen) have been a regular and generous contributor featuring China - Chinese Food. I can still see Jack in the kitchen preparing and the smell of delicious foods wafting into the hall.
Explanation (from Wikipedia)
New Year for the year 2021 is celebrated/ observed on Friday, February 12. This year the animal sign is the Ox. Chinese New Year is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese lunisolar calendar (Chinese traditional calendar). It is also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival.
❤ Here is his recipes from Margaret Virany's cookbook Eating At Church that she lovingly compiled from our church congregation.
Black History Month
❤ I grew up in Belize, Central America in the 1960s & 1970s. It was before they got independence and it was known as British Honduras.
At that time the population was predominantly Creole. I went to Roman Catholic school St. Catherines Academy where the classrooms were always a mixed pot of young people - creole, spanish and non creole/spanish.
I have fond memories of going on vacations with my friends and their parents. This was a different life experience for me, a shy child. They taught me trust. They taught me about different foods and ways they cooked them. They taught me to speak creole. They made me feel comfortable and happy.
I still remember walking down the streets hearing music pouring out of someone’s house and people would just stop to dance and sing there in the street. The music was made up from a variety of cultures: reggae, soul, steel drum, Garifuna and spanish love songs.
I also remember a house near where I lived that still had bars on the windows. It brought reality to my life and I learned of their ancestor's struggles (see explanation below).
Today, although the creole population has changed, the local dish is still rice and beans made with coconut milk and stewed chicken. This dish still holds a special spot in my heart. My mother created a cookbook for the Hospital Auxiliary much like Margaret Virany did for our church. The picture above is a worn, well used copy from the cookbook. At the bottom of the recipe is creole proverb and its translation.
Explanation of Belizean Creole (from Wikipedia):
Creoles are descendants of the Baymen slave owners, and slaves brought to Belize for the purpose of the logging industry. These slaves were ultimately of West and Central African descent (many also of Miskito ancestry from Nicaragua) and born Africans who had spent very brief periods in Jamaica and Bermuda. Bay Islanders and ethnic Jamaicans came in the late 19th century, further adding to these already varied peoples, creating this ethnic group.
There are some really good articles on the United Church website about Black History month.
by Steph Wakelin
Traditionally we would be having a Pancake dinner tonight at the church. This event has been a popular event over the years.
Thank you to everyone that has organized and helped this event over the years.
It has been- and will be again - a great way to get out during the winter and seeing our friends from the Aylmer community. They have always supported us and enjoyed this supper. The Guides, Le Monastere, and Jim Allen have also been there with help and donations.
❤ This day always holds happy memories of my Mom. She made great pancakes and sausages. I can still hear her singing as she cooked up a storm. She made a syrup of brown sugar and butter which was poured generously on top. As we lived in Belize there was always a variety of fresh fruit. Yum yum!
❤ Joy Ruttan shared a memory of her grandmother who used to make them with buttermilk
“We would eat them with butter and jam or preserves that grandma made, once in a while brown sugar- now that was pancake heaven! That was during the war and everything was rationed.
I think grandma must have spent most of her time making meals and regular housework. In the warm weather she had the garden from planting to reaping and picking berries and a couple of times a week she'd walk a mile and a half to the post office and store. I liked it when I could go with her, sometimes we'd get a ride with a horse & buggy by a neighbour.”
See the recipes
Explanation of Shrove Tuesday
The religious association of Shrove Tuesday began because the day preceding Ash Wednesday presented an opportunity to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The Christian fasting encouraged eating plainer food and avoiding food that would give pleasure – namely meat, dairy products, and eggs.
The name Shrove Tuesday derives from the practice of Anglo-Saxon Christians going into confession the day before Lent and being ‘shriven’ (absolved of their sins).
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls 40 days prior to Easter. Sundays are not included in the count of these days, as each Sunday is a “little Easter,” meant to celebrate resurrection.
It is marked by the ceremonial distribution of ashes as a symbol of entering into the penitential Season of Lent. The wearing of ashes, made from the burning of the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday, is considered a sign of repentance, sorrow, and mourning, an appropriate way to begin Lent.