This window’s hearts belong to the Burke/Seethaler family; Tanya, Rudi, Isabella, Ben and Charlotte.
I put the hearts facing in since no one from the road can even see our house, much less hearts in a window. Max was very curious what I was doing. 
~Nancy Hillmer
This is Ashka. She was laying across the keyboard of our bookeeper, Alison Rose, so frequently, preventing her from working, that she got her own keyboard!

News from El Triunfo

This came from our sister community on the 40th Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination (March 24, 1980). Because the annual international March in San Salvador was cancelled, the young people had a “virtual” celebration in his honour. ~Pat McPhee

From Adonay (one of First’s scholarship students)

Thank you very much for your message, it’s very important for us to know how you’re doing in this situation, and we are glad that your government, ours, and many more are helping with these measures that are so important for the health of all.

Here in El Salvador, two days ago the government imposed new emergency restrictions. Now there is a “Home quarantine”, which is to say, no one can leave their homes for 30 days, only one person per family is allowed to shop for groceries in supermarkets, two days a week. Those who leave their houses without justification may be taken to “quarantine,” meaning, far from their houses in shelters to wait out the remainder of the 30 days, near others possibly contagious with this disease.

For us, the new measures are very good to fight the virus, but also are affecting our studies, because now we cannot go to the parish to use the internet. The solution that we have found is to use internet through our phones, and thanks be to God this solution has helped us. Even though we now pay more to use the internet, we know that it is very necessary in this situation.

We’re glad that you liked our letters, and that you’ve displayed them in your church. We also appreciate the greetings you send to our families & friends.

For me I think that Romero is very important in these days of emergency, because with much wisdom Romero invites us to solidarity, peace, organization, to love with each other, to live and to share as sisters and brothers in this world full of social problems.

Thanks for your love and kindness, thanks for always thinking of us; we think of you frequently and your country that’s being affected by this virus.


Greetings to all.
Adonay Ernesto Miranda Rodezno

Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice News from The United Church of Canada

Indigenous Elders Write to the Church on COVID-19

The National Indigenous Elders Council, appointed at the National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering in August 2019, has offered the whole church its wisdom and assurance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Elders advise us all to take care of each other, to heed medical advice, and to continue to engage in prayer and ceremony even as we are unable to come together to do so. Read the full news piece.

Decolonizing Discipleship Webinar, March 31

Many of us have participated in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise where we imagine the experience of Indigenous Peoples in colonization, but how many of us have tried to understand our settler family’s experience, and how it continues to reverberate in society? Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator Sara Stratton has been exploring this question and will be leading a “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” on Tuesday March 31, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT. You can join with Zoom. For those interested but unable to join, we’ll have a recording of the webinar available.

Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Justice

The Winter 2020 issue of Mandate has a couple of terrific reflections on climate justice from Indigenous authors. Kii’iljuus (Barbara Wilson), former chair of the United Church’s Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools, offers her thoughts on Indigenous spirituality and climate change rooted in the experience of her home community, Haida Gwaii. Tony Snow, a member of the Stoney Nakoda nation and a student at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre who also serves on the church’s Climate Justice Advisory Group, reflects on the traditional knowledge that has led his people for generations and has the power to guide us into the future. Make sure you check out these terrific articles, as well as other great climate justice resources in this issue.

Moderator and Elders Speak Together on Indigenous Rights

The Moderator and National Indigenous Elders Council spoke together to the church about the ongoing Indigenous rights struggle on Wet’suwet’en territory and solidarity actions that took place across the country. Emphasizing the need for all decision-makers to be at the table, they offered prayerful support for all involved in finding the way forward. Dialogue has begun on the important issue of right and title in the territory, but there is still no resolution to the pipeline conflict. We continue to follow this matter as part of the church’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Minutes of the First United Church Official Board Meeting March 26, 2020

Present: Cheryl Perry, Beryl Itani, trustees, Tracy Leader, chair, Joa Lazarus, Pastoral Care, Rev Bob Wallace, Tami McMurphy, M&P, Carol Drury, Worship, Leslie Atwell, Education, Michel Marentette, Treasurer, Tanya Burke, Clerk of Sessions, Tanya Pritchard, Judy Valks
Regrets: Alyssa Campbell
A quorum was present

Call to Order: Tracy Leader called the meeting to order

Bob Wallace stepped away from the meeting temporarily.

M/S Tami McMurphy/Beryl Itani that First United extend Bob Wallace’s contract until June 30, 2021. Carried

Inspiration/Opening Prayer: Beryl Itani opened the meeting with a reading called ‘Find Calm in the Chaos’

Cheryl Perry offered a short prayer

Agenda: M/S Michel/Beryl that the agenda be adopted as presented. Carried
Minutes: M/S Tami McMurphy/ Leslie Atwell that the minutes of March 19, 2020 be approved as circulated. Carried No one noticed the minutes were dated the 18th, but I have corrected that.

M&P Staffing Protocol updates: Tami McMurphy reported on this.
M/S Joa Lazarus/Carol Drury that we have the mail forwarded to Tanya Pritchard during the time the church is closed, for up to 4 months. Carried

Beryl Itani will check on insurance requirements during the time the building is closed.

M/S Tami McMurphy/Leslie Atwell that we continue to pay staff as usual through the month of April, and revisit it at that time. Carried

Reports: Joa Lazarus reported that 80% of the congregation have been contacted by phone.

We will have a church service on Sunday on Zoom.

Next meeting April 2.

?The meeting was closed with a prayer from Thomas Merton.

This New World

My family and I were away last week because the kids got off of school and Dave and I needed a break from work and such. At least, that’s how it felt when we drove out of dodge to hit Vancouver Island. When we came back, I found a new world. “Spring break” had become a misnomer and our workplaces preferred we stay away.

I needed help understanding this new world so I hit up all my extended family members; I called my sister but she didn’t return my voicemail. My mother in law in Cape Breton informed me that I will likely likely catch Covid 19. My brother texted “our kids will just have to deal with not seeing their friends because it’s for their safety”. With family like this…?, I thought. Where is my comfort?

But then I attended an online Blether yesterday. It was great. We laughed, I cried; so, you know, a typical gathering among church family. It felt good to “talk our language” with 13 other First people, grappling with this new world. It reminded me of what we have and what will sustain us; each other.

Something a wise counselor told me 18 years ago that I try to live up to is “relationship first”. That means, don’t let negative emotions like anger (parenting!), resentment (siblings!), fear (pandemics!) get in the way of your relationships with the people you love. Relationship first. Think about how you care for those people and then put the negative emotion aside so you can see the relationship clearly for what it is, something worth patiently working on.

As I look ahead to a few online church gatherings I will have in the next few days, a staff meeting, a board meeting, Worship core ministry and a blether, I will keep “relationship first” top of mind because our relationships will get us through in this new world. Thanks be to God.

~Tanya Pritchard

A Word From Cheryl About Yesterday’s Outreach

We have scrambled to implement more changes to our process for doing outreach including having people come into the building one at a time where we offer a bag of groceries to those housed and a “to go” bag with sandwich and juice and ready-to-eat items (granola bars, pull top applesauce & protein, oranges) to those staying on the street or in shelters. Many thanks to Helen Verokosky for providing sandwiches today; Margaret Vellenoweth is providing these to hand out on Thursday.

There is great concern about the virus getting into our sheltered population which has led to the announced early closure of The Welcome Inn. It will close this Friday, March 27. Other temporary winter shelters will likely follow suit—putting at least 80 people back on the street. Debbie Hubbard and Shirley Piedt are taking part in an online “operators and partners” meeting tomorrow that includes Interior Health, BC Housing and the City of Kelowna to discuss how to support the homeless population during this health crisis.

Yesterday we handed out approximately 30 bags of groceries plus another dozen of the smaller bags to those who are homeless. As we continue to gather names, addresses and phone numbers (when available), we are seeing quite a number of new people, particularly those living unsheltered. It would seem, as some of the sources for meals such as Metro and the Gospel Mission have closed or reduced services. Although the reduction in services has been implemented to protect them, it may be creating more hardship for these very vulnerable people.

Thanks to Shirley Piedt we have begun redistributing our supply of Kentucky Fried Chicken to Heath House—a supportive housing project—so they can provide food so people will stay in and not move around the community so much looking for food/resources.

On the anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, I leave you with these words from a prayer composed by Bishop Ken Untener, drafted for a celebration of departed priests.

“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
An opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.”

Grace and strength,


Do you remember “random acts of kindness”? The movement that started in the 1980s that encouraged spontaneous kindness. Out of the COVID19 health crisis a new term has been coined, and a movement has started on social media, called “caremongering.”

The goal of caremongering is to spread the opposite of panic in people, to bring out community and camaraderie. We invite you to send us examples of caring acts, friendship and community-building you are part of and we will provide a weekly summary to inspire and lighten our collective spirit.

This week we heard from…

Gerry Hewitt & Rob Riddle. Rob has been visiting Gerry, who returned early from Australia (where her son lives) and has gone into quarantine, by walking over to her condo and waving to her up on her balcony while they talk on the phone! A modern day Romeo & Juliet!…

Linda Gilmour started a “Besties” email group of friends from the church, many who have travelled together over the years; she seeds the discussion each morning with a positive thought and others join in the electronic conversation throughout the day helping them all feel connected to each other…

John Whitehead says he and Nikki have been cheered while out on walks by chalk messages written on driveways and sidewalks by children in their neighbourhood, and they’ve also spotted a few hearts in windows …

Bev Milton, who is a retired United Church minister, and Ralph, have been asked to lead worship for residents at The Dorchester where they live; normally an Anglican clergyperson conducts those services but as visitors are not allowed at this time, this is something they have been approached to lead. A modern day house church!

Please send your random acts of caremongering to Tanya at [email protected] for future publication.THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Fancy a wee blether?

Mug with "Fancy a wee blether?"

Here’s how it works:
I put a link to a “virtual meeting” giving you a time and day. (see below) — the link is the underlined part starting with “https:”

  • You click on that link in your computer, tablet or (wifi-equipped) phone. Make sure you are connected to wifi if you are using a tablet or phone!
  • You will be asked to install a free application. Once you have downloaded the application, you should be able to click on the “link” I sent and have the program open.
  • I recommend that you test your computer’s microphone and speakers… the program will prompt you, and then use them for the blether.
  • That should bring you pictures and sound from everyone on the chat.
  • Make sure you have your favourite beverage! Blethering sometimes needs lubrication.

If you have any questions, give me a call and I can walk you through the process. So…here’s your invitation to have a “virtual” blether! – by Zoom – come, see how it works! Friday Morning (March 27) at 10:00am
Bob Wallace is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Friday Morning Blether
Join Zoom Meeting by clicking this link: https://zoom.us/j/898360769
Meeting ID: 898 360 769

First’s Got Talent

We will be hosting a potluck dinner and talent show on Saturday February 8 at 5:30pm. Everyone is invited to join in on the potluck and watch some of the fabulous talent our church has to show.

We are looking for anyone with talent to be a part of our talent show. If you sing, dances, play an instrument, are a comedian or anything else you think is a talent, then we want to hear from you! If you would like to sign up with a talent, please see us at the welcome table after church or contact Judy Valks at [email protected] or at 250-862-0712.
~Rachel Anweiler

Congregational Knowledge Exchange!

The Education Core Ministry would like to invite you to an all ages event – a Congregational Knowledge Exchange – on February 9 after church in the hall.

If you are interested, please see Suki Vernet to fill out a questionnaire of knowledge you can share (for example – how to write in cursive, speak in another language, play checkers, all the words to “twinkle twinkle,” etc. ) and knowledge you would like to learn (for example, how to play cat’s cradle, tie a tie, canning advice, etc. ).

You will be matched with another member of the congregation and will meet on February 9 to connect and exchange your knowledge. Please contact Suki Vernet with any questions. [email protected]