Join us for Blethers every Tuesday at 2pm.

Subscribe to the First Word and get the Zoom link to join the blether in your inbox every week!

A blether is an English term for a long-winded talk without a specific purpose, which is what we gather to do!

Outreach programs are continuing!

We are continuing our outreach programs in a modified format. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 11am we will be distributing noon meals and groceries to take with you.

Latest News

Busting Myths and Advocating for Refugees

Amnesty International Okanagan is pleased to welcome Justin Mohammed as the guest speaker. Justin is the Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada (English branch). Prior to his current role with Amnesty International Canada, he clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, served as a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Mali, and worked at the Library of Parliament as an analyst for the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights.

Justin will speak to the general situation facing refugees around the world, refute some of the myths about refugees, explain refugee law and policy issues here in Canada and share what AI Canada is working on. There will time for a question and answer as well.

Preregistration on Eventbrite is required. https://bustingmythsaboutrefugees.eventbrite.ca

Once you register, we will send you the Zoom link information.

?Central Okanagan United Churches Joint Working Group – Update

Within the representative working group, made up of ministry staff and laity from Westbank United, First United, St. Paul’s United, Rutland United and Winfield United, we have four focus groups: Governance; Administration & Facilities; Community Outreach; and Music and Worship.

Each of these task groups has met to brainstorm and share ideas and possibilities within their specific area. In our meeting on June 29th we returned to the large group to share our thoughts and ideas. The emerging overlaps and shared vision have a remarkable synchronicity that has added excitement and intrigue to our work.

Over the summer we will continue to explore and fine-tune some of these ideas before bringing them to the constituents later in the year, for a deep dive discussion.

Please note that this is a working group only, not a decision-making body. So please know that the input of all the participating congregations will be crucial to the work of the group and to the decision-making process.

Updates from El Salvador

~Pat & Greig McPhee

As Salvadorans emerge from the COVID lockdown, they are facing even more economic uncertainty due to the devastation unleased by Tropical Storms Amanda and Cristobal at the end of May. These caused deadly flooding and landslides and the UN estimates that 336,000 people living in both rural and urban areas are facing severe food insecurity. Thousands of acres of corn fields were flooded and some of their recently planted basic grains may be lost. FUNDAHMER, the NGO that facilitates First United’s sister community relationship, initiated the CONVIDA campaign, for financial assistance to deliver food baskets for affected families, including in El Triunfo.

The need was urgent, so some folks from First, who have visited our sister community over the years, managed to quickly put together a donation of $900 USD for the CONVIDA campaign (approximately 30 baskets of food & supplies).

We received an e-mail from Adonay Miranda (our scholarship student at the University of Central America) telling us about the impact of the storms (“tormentas” in Spanish). The main road through the community was washed out by mudslides and some families were evacuated into shelters. He reflected: “it is very sad that often these extreme events happen in the poorest countries (most affected by climate change) and, the truth is, that people living in these dangerous places are not given much priority”.

Adonay asked our congregation to please pray for their country; he sends his love and wanted us to know that he often thinks of all of us in the church. This year we are having challenges in meeting our financial commitment to the scholarship program. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our usual fundraisers for El Triunfo – the two Big Book Sales and the Mens’ Club BBQ – have been cancelled. Any support that you can offer will be gratefully appreciated. [Please earmark any donations ‘For El Salvador’ & reference OR acct# 01-4024.]

It was good news to hear that the Supreme Court in the U.S. has blocked President Trump’s administration from its plan to shut down DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as the ‘Dreamers’ to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S. DACA had been created by former President Obama in 2012 to temporarily shield certain immigrants from deportation and made them eligible for work permits. Many of these ‘Dreamers’ came to the U.S. from Latin America, including El Salvador, as very young children, some as unaccompanied minors.

“You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

St. Ambrose

Feeding Your Interests

~Lorraine Hladik

Are you feeling at loose ends? Maybe taking an online course will erase that feeling as you learn more about a new subject or look deeper into one you know.

FutureLearn is a website that offers courses on many topics, all from world-class universities. The courses are often repeated several times over the year and run from 2 – 8 weeks in length. I have taken courses from universities in England, Scotland, Australia, United States and Canada from my home, impossible for me to have done if I had to go there.

FutureLearn courses are all free and available for 14 days after completion of the course. If you want credit for any reason, you can pay a small sum and always have access to the course and its material as well as receiving a certificate. They allow flexibility as they are online, allowing you to do the weeks unit in one day or over the week. The material is presented in videos and articles with links to other sites for more information. You have a chance to comment after each section of a week’s class and you can learn a lot from the other students who come from all over the world and have many different experiences and knowledge.

FutureLearn has a wide variety of subjects, many current to today’s issues. I have taken 24 different courses on history, religion, health, archaeology, science, and others. In July I will be taking the 3-week course Making Sense of Data in the Media and hopefully it will help me to quickly debunk fake news.

It is free, interactive if you wish, and flexible in time spent on the course. If you want to try a course here is the link https://www.futurelearn.com

That All May Be One

~Cheryl Perry

This month marked the 95th anniversary of our denomination, which was founded on June 10, 1925 when The United Church of Canada was inaugurated at a large worship service at Toronto’s Mutual Street Arena. The motto “Ut omnes unum sint” appears on the crest that was designed for the new church; the Latin words “that all may be one” recall John 17:21. In 2000, the United Church’s anti-racism policy by the same title, “That All May Be One”, named as one of its four goals “to speak to the world by supporting anti-racism work within broader society.”

As then-Moderator Jordan Cantwell put it in her letter of March 2017: “We need to name and examine our fears, prejudices, and assumptions. The privilege that many of us are born with may desensitize us to the injustice, exclusion, and hate that some in our community experience on a daily basis. Only in that way can we build, as That All May Be One envisioned, a church and society where all are welcome, where all feel welcome, and where diversity is as natural as breathing.”

I winced when I re-read these words recently, in light of the demonstrations and protests taking place following the death of George Floyd. Images of people, fists in the air, or taking a knee, holding placards reading “I can’t breathe” filled my thoughts. These words have been a rallying cry of those who have experienced the pain and injustice of racial violence. A sign I saw at the demonstration in downtown Kelowna two Fridays ago read: “If you think it’s hard to breathe with this mask on, try being Black in America.” It was a powerful message. The only thing that needs to be added is to acknowledge that this is not just the experience of Black people in America. It is in Canada, too.

Although we may proclaim that God is found in our common diversity, the sin of racism is present in our Canadian society and in our church. Now more than ever we need to be committed to racial justice—by building right relationships through reconciliation between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples, by engaging in interfaith dialogue and speaking out against violence and discrimination rooted in racial and religious bigotry, by speaking up when we see acts of discrimination and acknowledging the white privilege we might benefit from in our church and in our society.

2020 marks the midway point of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024) which The United Church of Canada is participating in. As people of faith, we know that prayer has the power to transform and amplify or actions. Each Sunday, through the International Prayer Cycle, we are invited to pray for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent. May we continue to pray and take whatever concrete measures we can to combat racism and intolerance.

At First United we strive to be an open and inclusive community. We are people of all ages – young families, children and seniors. We worship on Sunday mornings and we have midweek programs for children, teens and adults. We are located in the heart of downtown Kelowna, at the intersection of Bernard & Richter streets. Click here to find out more about who we are and what we do.

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Contribute

First United Church is sustained by donations from its congregation. Both our work of ministry in the community and the operation of the church building rely on donations of time, talent, and funds from individuals like you. Please consider what talents you can contribute to furthering the work of  God in the world around us, and click the button below to donate to the church coffers.

The button takes you to Tithely, an app that makes it easy to make single donations or set up recurring donations. Recurring weekly or monthly donations are valuable because they help with long-term planning.

What’s Happening at First United

First United Church in downtown Kelowna is a hub for community activities. Some of the groups that meet in our building:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Alanon
  • Amnesty International
  • Compassionate Friends offers friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved parents who have experienced the death of a child at any age and from any cause. They meet on the second Thursday of each month.
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren supports grandparents and other relatives raising a family member’s child.
  • Kelowna Scottish Country Dancers
  • Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit fellowship of men and women for whom drug use has become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. There is only one requirement for membership: the desire to stop using.
  • Okanagan Children’s Choir aims to provide young people with a positive and nurturing environment where they can strive for musical excellence surrounded by friends and supporters.
  • TOPS is a nonprofit, noncommercial network of weight-loss support groups and wellness education organization. TOPS offers tools and programs for healthy living and weight management, with exceptional group fellowship and recognition.
  • PFLAG is a longstanding national organization of allies, friends, and family of people coming out as LGBTQ2; it aims to provide a supportive, affirming, and safe space for anyone struggling to accept the LGBTQ2 identity of someone close to them. It meets on the second Tuesday of every month; contact Wendy at 250-317-2902 for details.
  • The Samurai Brotherhood provides a space where men can come together to grow in their masculinity and become self-aware, awake men. It aims to help men to access and embody their masculine essence in a balanced way and support them in becoming stronger and more confident, focused, balanced and grounded. It meets on Tuesday evenings; contact Brandon at 250-803-3720 for details.

Sermons

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