Weeds

~Tom Kemp

On a recent walk in a wooded area my wife Pam and I were admiring the Spring wildflowers. Upon our return home we were shocked when she looked online to identify the flowers seen and discovered some of our favourite, beautiful wildflowers are invasive species—WEEDS.

Several days later we were walking on the Mission Creek Greenway and saw a field shimmering in one of these yellow beauties. Weeds seems such a misnomer. A little further along the trail we saw another field beautified by a profusion of invasive blue flowers. Pam commented, “I wonder if the indigenous people view us like an invasive species?”

There is no doubt that we, the offspring of settlers from outside Canada, are not native, but we have flourished numerically to spread over the land and banish those who first loved this land. The indigenous nations respected Mother Earth and were its wise and devoted caretakers.

The settlers, however, saw the land’s richness and declared ownership, and discovered resources that could be raped from the land for tremendous profits. Like invasive plant or animal species, we have changed the ecology of the land and have marginalized its original caretakers.

To our shame we have expected these indigenous peoples to be happy with what was decided was left for them . . . until more valuable resources were discovered to be on those lands. They should move along and not thwart progress and profitability by impeding plans to develop and exploit these newly found treasures. Settlers as an invasive species, weeds? Hmm.

For generations a pattern of exclusion and exploitation has dishonoured the indigenous people of our country and sought to change them to become more like us. How do we even begin to right these wrongs, to live into Reconciliation? How can we make our invasion of their land less noxious?

I do not believe the indigenous peoples are seeking a quick, overnight “fix” of the wrongs, but a shared process of entering reconciliation. They are the keepers of the wisdom and the perspectives that will make this possible. Thus, to begin to live into reconciliation, we must listen, learn and be guided by their wisdom. They will coach us on how to live respectfully with them and with Mother Earth, to avert catastrophic climate change and loss of biodiversity. They will open our eyes to see the spiritual connection uniting all aspects of Creation that we should be respecting and preserving.

Another step toward reconciliation will require us to own their right to live their traditional lifestyle which has sustained and nurtured them for centuries. This will also challenge us to grant them the right to manage and govern their traditional territories, protected from invasive development plans.

It seems weeds can be a beautiful addition to the landscape. May we learn to be so.

Family Ties

~Cheryl Perry & Bob Wallace

Last Sunday we began the nearly six-month season of “Ordinary Time”, during which this year we move chronologically through Genesis, week after week.

In this context “Ordinary” doesn’t mean typical or humdrum – rather, it comes from the word “ordinal,” meaning “related to a series.”

Throughout the summer we will take an ordered, deliberate, step-by-step pilgrimage through the story of our ancestors in the faith.

We will explore “family ties”—those of the biblical families in Genesis: Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, twin brothers Jacob and Esau, sisters Leah and Rachel, ending with the well-known story of Joseph in Egypt.

?These stories are full of loving relationships, sibling rivalry, the death of parents and birth of children, family secrets, forgiveness and faith. They may remind us of our own family ties and struggles in relationships. And they hopefully remind us, too, that we are not perfect and yet God’s promises are for us as well.

Although the lectionary readings will move us chronologically through the stories in Genesis, much is left out of the lectionary, and we invite you to read that on your own as you wish – either in preparation for each Sunday or afterward. This Sunday we will be looking at the stories in Genesis Chapters 12-15.

Join us at 10AM this Sunday, as we begin to hear the story of Abraham and Sarah, the first biblical family to have their daily lives, their customs, and their life story described in detail.

Their story marks the transition from God’s promise in a general sense to care for all creation (in the earlier stories in Genesis of Adam and Eve and Noah) to God’s promise to care for a particular group of people. God chooses this family and covenants to be with them and their descendants forever.

Learnings from the Pandemic

~Bob Wallace

Rainbow by Linda Gilmour

On Friday I got to make an “in-person” pastoral visit! Suddenly it felt like there might be a glimmer of hope for returning to “in-person” relating after long weeks of self-isolation.

During that conversation, we spoke of many things, not the least important of which was trying to answer the question: “What have we learned during the pandemic that we ought to take into the future?”

This has been a frequent topic these past days, so I thought it might be interesting to share some of what I have thought with you for further thinking, refinement, and discussion. So, here goes!

  1. We can make radical changes when we accept such changes are necessary. The swift spread of a virus brought us to a crisis—changes became essential. And so, almost overnight, we changed…changed our ways of relating to one another, our ways of gathering. And the motivation for such change was not only our concern for our personal safety, but also with our concern for the well-being of others. In other words, we can make changes quickly for the sake of the well-being of others.
  2. We can adapt and learn new skill sets for living into the radically changed new reality. Look at how quickly we took up frequent handwashing, using hand sanitizers, keeping social distancing, changing the frequency of our grocery shopping, developing “telephone trees” to keep in touch, learning and using Zoom, and so many more new ways of acting.
  3. We cling to the memories of “before the change!” We remember the ease with which we used to relate to one another, the joys of being “all together in one place” for worship, the energizing times of singing together, the fun of coffee and fellowship in the church hall. And at times, our nostalgia invites us to return to those moments – even as we know we cannot, for we have all been changed. We know we cannot go back to what once was. As adults might long for the days of youth, we will go forward as new people, altered by our time in isolation.

As we leave behind what we have been, what might be emerging?

Until then, Grace and peace to each and all.

Worship This Morning 10AM

Rev. Bob Wallace is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89086499154?pwd=bXp6NnpJRUtTUVZpM21CNER2M0tRUT09

Meeting ID: 890 8649 9154
Password: 089769

Celebrating Graduates

~Cheryl Perry

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Pentecost —the birthday of the church. We have been celebrating birthdays in different ways during this time of COVID19—not gathering for parties, doing drive-by celebrations, etc. This Sunday we are recognizing some other people who have had a significant moment in their lives—graduation—happen in this time of physical distancing and school closures.

It was my enormous pleasure to spend a few minutes with each of these young people this week. I asked them about their experiences and what it has been like to graduate during a time of pandemic. What was different? Disappointing maybe? Memorable?

Graduation is such a threshold moment—between what’s been and what’s to be, between what’s been studied, learned and accomplished, and all that there is still to learn, discover and do.

?It is so good to mark this moment with celebration, although it will not be in the same way we have in previous years—with corsages and a cake after church at coffee hour. It is good to celebrate having further to grow—to note a mile-marker on the longer way and take joy both in the distance traveled and the distance yet ahead.

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate with the young people connected to our congregation who are graduating!


Greta Friesen, daughter of Carla and Randal Friesen, graduates from Kelowna Secondary School. She will begin studies this Fall at UBCO in Fine Arts and Psychology. Although courses will be offered online this is not a big stretch for Greta as she has accomplished much of the last two years of high school online because of health problems. Despite these challenges, Greta has consistently made the Principal’s List for high grades. Her art has been featured at the Kelowna Art Gallery and, as well, she does her own screen printing, pottery, painting, sculpting and dye-making. She gave a TEDx talk in 2017 entitled, “A picture is worth a thousand words, right?”


Jon Gaba, grandson of Susan Sullivan and Frank Sliskovic, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Quantum Physics from UBCO, one of only 10 completing this program. His plans are to go to work in his field, probably at the coast but like everything else, nothing is certain right now.


Colin Hillmer, son of Nancy and Eric Hillmer, graduates from Rutland Senior Secondary. Colin plans to attend Okanagan College this Fall in the General Science program and then transfer to UBC (Vancouver) to complete a BSc in Forestry. He plans to specialize in Wood Products Processing which focuses on using the renewable resource of wood for purposes that have traditionally used non-renewable resources such as concrete and steel.


Alexander James, grandson of Trent and Jean James, has graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Software Engineering. He will be continuing post graduate studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. This is a picture of Alexander that appeared in the U of C yearbook. He was the top runner on the Calgary running team.


Lindsay Maier, daughter of Brenda and Greg Maier, graduates from Kelowna Secondary School. She will go to UBC (Vancouver) to study Kinesiology and compete with the UBC Thunderbirds Varsity Track & Field team. Lindsay graduates with a 97% average and was accepted and offered scholarships to six universities. She received the Kelvern Celtic Society Bursary for her past involvement in Irish Dance, as well as other bursaries and academic awards that will be announced June 18th in the online commencement ceremony.


Corrine McLeod, daughter of Shelley McLeod, has successfully completed her General Business Diploma and Human Resources certification though online courses at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario. She is willing to move to wherever the job is, so is now submitting applications in several provinces and looks forward to full-time employment.


Fraser Newbury, son of Peter Newbury and Margaret Newbury-Jones, graduates from Kelowna Secondary School. Fraser has received a $2000 President’s distinguished merit scholarship (awarded to students with a 95% average or higher) and a matching scholarship from the University of Waterloo where he has been accepted into the Honours Mechanical Engineering Co-op program. He has also received a bursary from Interior Savings. Fraser expects to remain in Kelowna this Fall as first semester courses are offered online.


Graham Phillips, son of Linda and Jeff Phillips, graduates from Rutland Senior Secondary. Graham is on the Principal’s List and will be the recipient of a District wide scholarship award which will be presented during the RSS online commencement ceremony. He will continue studies in the Animation Diploma Program at Okanagan College where he had started to take preparatory courses at night before the college closed.

Kelowna Area Churches Update

~Bob Wallace

Following up on our multi-United church gathering…

To continue to focus on next steps following the overwhelming multi-congregation response of “yes, let’s move forward with further exploration of how our local United Churches could work together”, a smaller working group is now in action.

The yet-to-be-named group includes the ministers as well as two or three congregation members from each church. The initial May 14 meeting focused on getting acquainted and creating a shared code of conduct for the group.

The June 4 meeting, facilitated by Allison Rennie, resulted in a draft of guiding principles for the group’s work which are currently being refined, as well as the creation of smaller subcommittees.

The smaller groups will spend a few weeks examining and creating proposals around some exploratory topics such as: I wonder what if we shared property or properties (real and financial)? I wonder what if we shared administrative functions and paid staffing? Or I wonder what if we share Ministry, worship and music?

Proposals will be shared back with the larger group members for comment, input and refinement at an end of June meeting. The group will meet again August 6.

My experience with prejudice

~Heather MacDonald

This has been on my mind for the past week, I think, pushing me to share.

My dad was in the Air Force and I have had the privilege of living across Canada. When we were stationed in Val-d’or, Quebec, the neighbourhood we lived in was French. My family, to my memory, was the only English family.

The children of the neighbourhood were great to my sisters and I, teaching us French, so we could communicate and play. They also taught us some swear words! As a result, French became our language of outside play.

When my family left Quebec and moved to Loggieville, New Brunswick, we continued to play in French as some of the children there were French.

I think my dad predicted that his next transfer would be to Gander, Newfoundland and he didn’t like that thought! Also, my dad had too many dependants so we would never be transferred overseas, and he left the Air Force and we moved to BC.

It was the fall of 1967, the FLQ was in the news and separatists were calling for their rights. We had moved to Port Coquitlam. One day, my sisters and I were outside playing when the neighbour children, ten and under, all lined up at the end of driveway and began taunting and calling us names.

Where did these children learn that French-speaking people were less and it was ok to treat people the way they did? They learned from the adults around them. How did I react? I learned to “forget” how to speak French.

My language of play was gone and only a few cuss words remain. I understand my experience is benign in comparison to others, but all these years later, it still upsets me. I am left with a bad taste in my mouth because in all my school years with those children, I never trusted them.

Curious to learn more about the work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank?

~Debbie Hubbard

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of Canada’s leading food assistance organizations. Its mission is to end global hunger by supporting projects submitted by their 15 member agencies and by influencing public policies necessary to end hunger in the world.

The United Church of Canada has been a long-standing member of the Foodgrains Bank. Here at First we have supported the work of the Foodgrains Bank through our donations to Mission and Service and by signing postcards advocating for an increase in international aid for food and agricultural programs.

On Thursday, June 25, we have an opportunity to participate in a webinar via Zoom that we and Trinity United Church in Vernon are co-hosting. It will be a 75 minute, online learning event with James Kornelsen, the Foodgrains Bank Public Engagement Coordinator.

James will share with us the important work the Foodgrains Bank does and how we as individuals and member churches can get involved. We will learn more about what the Foodgrains Bank does, the educational resources available to member churches and how you can incorporate these resources into worship services, study groups, Sunday schools and youth programs. Whether you are providing leadership in one of these Core Ministries or curious to learn more about, you are all welcome.

If you are interested in perhaps joining this event or need some more information please contact Debbie Hubbard at [email protected] or 250-469-4468. The webinar will be at either 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. on June 25.