Sunday, December 29, 2013

Video and New Year’s Message of Unity from the Anglican and Lutheran Churches

National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, share a New Year’s greeting with Lutherans and Anglicans across Canada.

This joint New Year's greeting is a first for the churches, which are full communion partners.

In their joint message Johnson and Hiltz reflect on highlights from 2013, including Joint Assembly, the Anglican-Lutheran gathering in Ottawa this past July-particularly on the Joint Declaration on homelessness, affordable housing, and responsible resource extraction.

Johnson notes the importance of the public witness event, which took place on Parliament Hill in at the foot of the Peace Tower.

"We were excited that we were led by the youth of our two churches," said Johnson. "It helped us focus on the important issue of access to clean water."

Hiltz also recounts how blessed the churches were to have guests from the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches, and their two American sister churches at Joint Assembly.

"They reminded us of the challenge that our relationship holds," says Hiltz, "and the hope and potential for similar conversations in other churches around the world... in the interest of Christian unity."

The video closes with a challenge to both churches-"individuals, congregations, parishes, dioceses, and synods"-to consider ways that Anglicans and Lutherans can work together to advance social justice and Christian unity "together, for the love of the world."

Click here to learn more about our full communion relationship

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Rev. James B. Pratt Christmas Letter - 2013

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy. 

Isaiah 9:2-3a

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Christmas is a celebration of the light of God coming into a world darkened by sin and despair. The child Jesus brings hope and joy, the promise of a new relationship with God.

As the people of God, we are called to be children of the light, living our lives in the fullness of that light, and sharing the light with others.

In the past two months, we at St. Philip’s have done much to share the light of God with others. We sent over 167 Christmas shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child (this year they went to Central America and West Africa). We delivered a carload of coats, boots and clothing to St. Michael’s Mission. We sent another carload of stuffed animals, toys and other Christmas gifts to Mile End Mission. We helped the NDG Food Depot collect, sort and pack several tonnes of food, and offered our space to sort and store the food. Earlier in the year, our Lenten collection provided over $1400 for Operation Eyesight Universal. We have been able to offer the use of our hall at reduced cost for a couple community fundraisers for worthy causes, such as the Steven Lewis AIDS Foundation, and we now host three 12-step recovery groups.

Through all these outreach efforts, we are making a difference in the lives of people in our community, in the wider Montreal community, and around the world. We are sharing hope.

Doing this is not without challenges. We are already making good use of our most valuable asset, our members. But we need to look seriously at our second most valuable asset, our real estate, and discern how we can better use it to further our mission, both now and into the next generation. We need to be able to devote more of our financial resources to mission, including mission to ourselves by funding ministry to the young families with children who are moving into the neighbourhood.

This Christmastide, let us give thanks for the light of God which shines so brightly among us, and shines through us into the world. Let us seek to continue to spread the hope, joy and love which Christ brings.

May you have joy abounding this Christmas.

The Rev. James B. Pratt

Christmas Letter to you & your families from your Corporation – 2013

This has been a very busy and active year for all who attend and partake in the services and activities of the membership of St. Philip’s Church. We were most fortunate to have had such a positive response to the financial drive and hope the next phase of the restoration of the inside of the church goes as well as the first - The Tower. We have to all try to encourage growth in the church community and increase our numbers including being able to establish an active Sunday school with a qualified teacher for all ages of children.

The Christmas Bazaar was very well attended. The apple picking trip was a lot of fun and the pie baking was very successful and hopefully it can be repeated next year with increased participation. Quinn’s Farm is an educational spot for children and adults alike.

The men of the church are excellent cooks and do us proud. We are very fortunate that all the parishioners who are able to take part in the activities and they deserve our thanks. Please try and encourage past active members to return to the church and help us with the restoration. During the coming month we will be working on our plans for the future of St Philip’s. It is up to all of us to participate in this project. If you have any ideas or suggestions for improvements and money making for these activities please let Father Jim and the members of the corporation know.

Mylѐne has worked very hard this year on the hall rentals and deserves sincere thanks from everyone. She has increased the finances made by a good sum. This financial report is available for the asking. Much time is spent doing the bulletins. Andy also does his best under some rather difficult circumstances.

The church music program is being enjoyed and much appreciated by one and all - thanks to Peter and our dedicated choir.

Our ladies are also an asset and do their share of the participation in the activities of the day to day running of our church. What would we all do without the Alter Guild?

This year I tried a different format for this letter as I would like to acknowledge and show our thanks to everyone who has a part in the organization of our church and our religious education.

Father Jim deserves all our thanks and support for the improvements we have been able to achieve.

Peace, joy and friendship to all

Corporation: Stephen, Shan, Jean-Guy & Audrey

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas 2013 — O Little Town of Bethlehem

Here is a December 20, 2013 message from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In 2009 I visited Bethlehem in the Holy Land.

I remember bending over, as everyone must, to pass under the tiny doorway that takes you into the Church of the Nativity. I remember standing in Manger Square with hundreds of pilgrims from around the world.

I remember waiting in a long line of people wanting to kneel and pray in the grotto over the very place where it is believed Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God. The closer I was drawn to this incredible moment, the more my heart pounded and my eyes welled up. Knowing my time there would be so very brief, I wondered how I would pray. I really did not know, but as I knelt down and closed my eyes, these words came to mind,

"Love divine all loves excelling,

joy of heaven to earth come down,

fix in us thy humble dwelling;

all thy faithful mercies crown.

I felt others pressing in behind me. I got up, a bit weak in my legs, and made my way back up to the church where Armenians were singing a mass.

From the church we made our way to Shepherds Fields. As I roamed around the scrubby landscape, I imagined that night sky of so long ago alive with the song of the angels announcing the birth of the Saviour. As we got ready for the short trek the shepherds would have made looking for the manger where the Christ Child could be found, I picked up a few pieces of stone. I place them in the crèche we set up at home every Christmas.

On Christmas Eve I will be thinking of Bishop Suheil of Jerusalem and the entire ecumenical delegation gathering in Manger Square for The Proclaiming of The Nativity of our Lord, and prayers for peace and goodwill among the nations.

This is the only Bethlehem where Christ was born in the flesh.

There are in fact many Bethlehems where he is born in the heart. We are reminded of this in an amazing piece of poetry by John Terpstra in the December edition of the Anglican Journal. The poem speaks of many "Bethlehems" across Canada and truly there are many more all around the world. In every one we are united in prayer as we sing this holy night.

"O Holy child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray;

Cast out our sin and enter in;

Be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels

O come to us, abide with us,

Our Lord Emmanuel."

May the blessings of his love and peace be yours this Christmastide.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Outing Santa

I wasn’t going to write this article.  Last year I wrote about De:Santafying Christmas which led to some interesting comments, both written and verbal.  Thus, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to write another Christmas article that dealt with approaches to Santa Claus.  Then lo and behold an article from The Guardian made its rounds on Facebook.  It spoke of an English vicar who reportedly told a school full of children that Santa was not real.  Obviously, outrage erupted over this.

I am not going to argue whether Father Tatton-Brown did the right thing. Obviously, his remarks (even if chalked up to a technological error) were without tact and completely ill-timed. While I commend him for trying to teach the children about the religious understanding of the holiday, he did not have to mention that Santa Claus was a myth. There are ways to talk about Christmas without actually mentioning Santa Claus; believe me, I do it all the time. Surely there was a better way to handle speaking about Saint Nicholas without outing Santa Claus as a figment of imagination.

Yet what disturbs me about this article, and in truth what disturbs me about the whole dynamic of a Santa-focused Holiday, is the complaint that in some manner Tatton-Brown ‘ruined Christmas.’ The suggestion is made that his comments horrifyingly destroyed the Christmas celebrations for all the children who listened to him. The title of the article says as much: “Pupils’ Christmas ‘ruined’ by vicar’s Santa Claus origins story.” One of the most sensationalist lines in the article reads “Some parents threatened to pull their children out of a Christmas concert at his church, St Andrew’s, in protest, arguing that they would not barge into one of his services and announce that the story of Jesus was a fiction.”

Seriously, Does the vicar’s remark merit protest? What is more, are you actually suggesting that denouncing Jesus in a church is on par with speaking about how Santa is based on legend? Frankly, I find it atrocious that some would hint that the removal of Santa ‘ruins’ the celebration of Christmas, but the removal of Jesus does not? Also, when did the historicity of Saint Nicholas simply become an ‘origin story’?

Now I get that these parents are upset, and they have every right to be. But honestly, is Christmas actually ruined because someone told your child that Santa does not exist? Maybe it is because people both inside and outside the church have charged my wife and I with this very thing, but I have a hard time believing this to be the case.

After all, if the non-belief in Santa Claus ruins Christmas for all the children of the world, then surely you still believe in flying reindeer, magical elves and a jolly fat man who lives in the north pole – right? If a child’s non-belief in Santa is that which will perpetually ruin the celebration of Christmas, then surely that means that each parent spoken of in this article never intended to ever tell their children the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth Fairy, Cinderella, or Fairy God-mothers.

Totten-Brown’s remarks did not ruin Christmas any more than realizing that the guy in the mall is not the ‘real’ Santa means that he ruined Christmas. Let’s not over-dramatize this.

Because here’s how I see it; A Christmas which is focused on presents does not rely on the existence of Santa. When that first glittery box is placed before that child, they will forget all about the vicar’s remarks, if they haven’t already. They will, just as they always do, gush over all the wrapped boxes that they see under the tree. They will still be happy about the presents that they received, and disappointed over the presents that they did not. Come Christmas morning, the existence or non-existence of Santa won’t matter one little bit.

So if it is true that Christmas is not ruined, the question then becomes, what is the source of all the ire and vengeance that would make some parents cry for protest. What is the reason to circulate the article with captions like ‘I’m glad he’s not my priest’ and ‘stupid old man’. What exactly are we crying over? Because I have a feeling it’s not about defending the innocence of our children, or protecting their understanding of Christmas. Perhaps all our anger over the vicar’s words is not actually about the children at all, but about ourselves. Perhaps it is about ourselves being confronted with some of the lies too easily bought into; perhaps it is about seeing our willingness to usurp the celebration of our Lord’s birth with the worship of products and merchandise. Perhaps it’s simply easier to demonize someone who tactlessly points to that which is real, then recognize how we sometimes so vehemently defend that which is not.

Perhaps the vicar’s words didn’t ruin something for our children. Perhaps it ruined something for us. . . .and maybe that’s a good thing.

I invite your comments…

About Kyle Norman: I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith.

Source: The Anglican Church of Canada: The Community

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

St. Philip's Lessons and Carols Service Celebrates the Beauty of the Season

On Sunday evening 15 December 2013 some fifty hardy friends and neighbors of St-Philip’s Church braved the chaotic aftermath of Montreal’s first significant snowstorm of the year, to come and experience an hour or so of spiritual meditation and worship. It was the Nine Lessons and Carols service, and truly it felt like a moment where we could step off our fast-spinning planet and just take a break.

The evening was a heady dose of nostalgia, and a potent reminder through a liturgy that most of us have known all our lives, of the Love of God for Humanity. This was an hour of prayers, stories, and of some truly superb music presented by the St-Philip’s choir. It was an hour free of commercial clamour – free of any sense of hurry. It was a time where we are a little more successful in putting aside our differences and just celebrating God’s love for us and our love for each other. It was an hour of living what we wish we could live every day.

The service did end of course, as all things must; the congregation then gathered in the Guild room to raise a glass to our wonderful choir, and to each other. After that, we all went back out into the snow to carry on with our daily lives. Life is not always peaceful or beautiful, but we were all touched that evening by the stories – the beauty – the possibilities. That is Christian Love. That is God’s Love. May we share that love through the rest of Advent, Christmas, and all of the upcoming year.

- Steven Berntsen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Advent Podcast Series: Parts 2 and 3

Advent 2: O come, O come, Emmanuel

Musician and songwriter Steve Bell reveals the roots of O come O come Emmanuel in traditional Advent prayers known as the O Antiphons–calling on Christ using the mysterious titles given in Isaiah.
Bell’s wonderful contemporary version of the hymn is interwoven with seven sonnets corresponding to the seven O Antiphons, written and performed by English poet and priest Malcolm Guite.
“These are the names that give prophetic content to the name we have come to reverence and treasure so dearly, and in which we have come to rejoice.”


Advent 3: I hate the mall

We notice the people all around us–and if we’re honest, probably ourselves too–getting more rushed and grumpy as the December weeks go by, trying to create the perfect family holiday. The practice of Advent, however, “doesn’t lead to anxiety or disappointment, but rather a growing inner stillness and joy.”
Spiritual director and blogger Rachel Twigg-Boyce shares a short reflection on the difference between our attempts at preparation and control when getting ready for Christmas, and Advent’s expectant waiting.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Archbishop Fred Hiltz Urges Anglicans to Think about the Poor

The church has a "moral obligation" to speak out for the poor and downtrodden, says Archbishop Fred Hiltz in an interview with CBC Toronto's Metro Morning radio show.

With Christmas approaching, Archbishop Fred Hiltz today urged Anglicans, via a CBC radio interview, to think about the poor and disadvantaged, saying the church “must be in the world and for the world” as Jesus Christ was.

In the gospels, “we see quite clearly that he [Jesus] cared as much for people’s physical well-being as their spiritual well-being,” Hiltz said when asked by CBC Toronto Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway about why he’s asking Anglicans to become stronger advocates for social justice. “The church has a moral obligation, rooted in the gospel and in the teaching of the prophets long before Jesus. We have a moral obligation…to speak up for those who are disadvantaged, for the poor and for the downtrodden.”

The primate was also asked about, the three-year campaign he has launched with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) to raise awareness about food security issues.

Hiltz noted that eliminating extreme hunger and poverty was one of the UN Millennium goals (to which Anglicans worldwide have been asking their governments to demonstrate commitment).

“My reality is that I’ve already eaten this morning and I’m going to eat again today. I’m going to be able to choose what I eat. I’m probably going to see food wasted,” said Hiltz. “The reality for many other people in the world is that they’re going to be hungry today.” Particularly vulnerable are women—“mothers who will not eat so that their children can”—people in war zones and environmentally displaced refugees now unable to till their land because of climate change, he said.

Asked whether it was hard for the church to have moral authority because of incidents in the past, including its involvement with Indian residential schools, Hiltz said these events have, in fact, forced the church to take stock of its failures and direction. “This current crisis that we’ve come through has called us back to the gospel: who are we? What are we supposed to be about if we claim Christ as the Lord?” he said. “These painful experiences that we have found ourselves in relation to residential schools have made us realize that there are times when the church has to acknowledge its own failures and to say, ‘We’re sorry,’ and to accompany any words of action that can really move us into a different place…”

The primate also acknowledged that churches have not been as vocal as they could in terms of speaking out because they have been “consumed with their own internal life,” including issues of survival, given decreased membership and diminishing resources. “There’s also the political context which we find ourselves in,” he added. “We’re at a time now when churches are making huge efforts to reach out and not just be an institution in society that reacts to government policies [but one that] partners with agencies…in such a way that we’re having a hand in the shaping of policies that are just for everyone.”

The church stands at the threshold of convincing people of faith to “get out there and be the church in the world, to make a difference…to really see ourselves as the servant of God’s mission of compassion and reconciliation and peace in the world," he added.

To listen to the interview click here.

Source: The Anglican Journal

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Becoming the Story We Tell

What should church hospitality look like? Is "hospitality" enough?

The church has wrestled with these questions for some time, and recently in response to "open table"—the practice of welcoming unbaptised people to participate in the Eucharist.

At the spring 2012 meeting of the House of Bishops, the bishops opted for a broader conversation, moving from discussing open table exclusively to a conversation on hospitality and how it connects to discipleship.

The bishops asked the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, to set up a task force to examine the issue. The Primate defined the task with two questions: Are there any limits to the church's hospitality to the unbaptised? How can the church's hospitality to the unbaptised be part of making disciples?

After an initial report, the task force began work on a resource to offer to the church for use in Lent and Eastertide 2014. It's purpose: to restore the role of Lent and Easter in forming the church as a community of disciples, welcoming new disciples, and renewing a sense of God's call to the church in baptism.

"Becoming the Story We Tell: Renewing our engagement with Christ crucified and risen" is now available as a PDF, with handy link-based navigation to help users explore a wide array of material, compiled with an eye to flexibility and adaptability for broad variety of contexts.

The Rev. Canon John Hill—chair of the task force as well as compiler and editor of Becoming the Story—sees this as an opportunity for the church to renew its understanding of what sacraments are and do.

"Very few of us have experienced the kind of formation that newcomers will need to help them follow the way of Jesus," says Hill.

"We need to start with our own crowd. We need to start with the kind of formation that is described in the resources as ‘turning again to the way of Christ' in some kind of formal fashion, together with the kind of communal formation that supports that. If we learn what that looks like, what it feels like... we might just get excited about offering that kind of opportunity to people who have never been baptised."

One of the main components in Becoming the story is the small group reflections for Lent and Easter. The Lenten reflections focus on the gospel readings for Lent 2014 and ask the same three questions each time: What is Jesus offering us? Where is the resistance to Him coming from? What will we have to risk or renounce to be free to follow the way of Jesus?

The small group reflections for Easter focus on what the church does in the liturgy, in the sacraments, and ask: ‘How did doing this affect us?' ‘What did we notice that we never noticed before?' ‘What does doing this say about us as a company of disciples? What does it say about the new world God is making?' ‘What would it mean to live the way we pray?'

"Instead of starting with teaching doctrine about the meaning of church," says Hill, "we start with grounding as many people as possible in word and sacrament, and sustained reflection."

The resource offers different levels of implementation from which congregations can choose—from a basic cultivation of a renewed sense of baptismal identity and vocation, to deeper focus on engaging newcomers, and more.

"We tend to treat the Gospel sacraments as freestanding encounters with grace," says Hill, "but we don't always recognise how they work together to help form the church, form a people of God who acknowledge and accept the mission of Jesus."

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Sunday, December 8, 2013

An Advent Podcast Series: Part One

Advent 2: O come, O come, Emmanuel

Musician and songwriter Steve Bell reveals the roots of O come O come Emmanuel in traditional Advent prayers known as the O Antiphons–calling on Christ using the mysterious titles given in Isaiah.

Bell’s wonderful contemporary version of the hymn is interwoven with seven sonnets corresponding to the seven O Antiphons, written and performed by English poet and priest Malcolm Guite.

“These are the names that give prophetic content to the name we have come to reverence and treasure so dearly, and in which we have come to rejoice.”


Advent 1: The four last things

Dig into ancient Advent tradition with the Rev. Jamie Howison, founding pastor of St. Benedict’s Table.
Jamie introduces the medieval practice of contemplating “the four last things” during the Advent season–bringing the peace, joy, hope, and love of the Advent wreath into sharper relief.

Get some perspective on Jesus’ imminent arrival with the first installment of our Advent podcast series.


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Primate Reflects on Nelson Mandela

Today the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest men of our times. Nelson Mandela's life is the story of the prisoner who became the president of his beloved country. He is the icon of South African's long road to freedom from apartheid. He is "the father of our nation", writes Desmond Tutu, "the pride of our people."

Mandela only ever looked back to remember those who had been so sorely oppressed, who suffered and died. He looked ahead and with a strength of spirit that was unwavering. He pressed for truth and reconciliation in his homeland. So impressive was his foresight that it inspired the same kind of work so necessary in numerous other countries as well.

Mandela stood tall among his people and he gave them hope for a better future. He spoke as one in whom wisdom had made his dwelling. He acted with a humility that had about it a sense of authority the world will never forget. All his labours were a wonderful reflection of a life given to the teaching in the Beatitudes, perhaps most especially the one that reads "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for thy will be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6)

Mandela loved much. Who can even forget his wonderful smile? For his family and his people he lived, and in their great love for him he died.

"We pray that nothing good in his life will be lost but be of benefit to the world; that all that was important to him will be respected by those who follow him; and that everything in which he was great will continue to mean much to us now that he is gone". (Prayer of Thanksgiving, The Funeral Liturgy, p 602, Book of Alternative Services)

Mandela is destined to be remembered in the calendar of holy men and women through the ages. To give ourselves to the work of "transforming unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation among all people," (the Fourth Mark of Mission) will be to truly honour his life and his labours.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Parish Forum - The Future of the Hall: Background Information

On Saturday December 7th we will be coming together to discuss the future of the hall at St. Philip's church at a Parish Forum that will run from 9:30 - Noon. To their credit parishioners at St. Philip's have succeeded in financing and restoring the tower, however we need to deal with the even bigger issue of the hall. The primary reason we need to address this issue is the fact that the roof needs to be replaced in the coming years which is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We need to explore our options, but before we do that we need to evaluate our needs and our mission as a faith community. In what is colloquially known as the "kitchen meetings" the issue of the hall has been addressed in the past. Beyond the fact that the roof needs to be replaced there are several other issues we should consider. Here is a brief review of some of the issues we may want to incorporate into our planning.

We need to consider that the church hall is:

1. Functional Obsolescence

- Accessibility: No handicap access (and it is impossible to make the basement accessible)
- Fire code: Basement does not have 2 exits that meet fire codes
- Security: Access cannot be easily monitored (has resulted in thefts)

2. Missional Obsolescence 

- Small kitchen (poor layout, stoves not vented, no dishwasher)
- Mice have lots of points of access
- Mold is always a danger due to water infiltration from the roof
- Hall cannot accommodate multiple users leading to scheduling conflicts
- No designated Sunday School/children's space (guild room is not suited for this purpose)

3. High Operating Costs

- High heating costs due to inefficient system and lack of insulation
- Rental income barely covers operating costs 

According to our internal bookkeeping it is clear that the hall consumes a lot of resources and in its current configuration it is unsustainable over the long term. A rough approximation of hall expenses include:

- 80 percent of janitorial costs
- 75 percent of oil heating costs (we heat the hall about 60-65 hours per week, while the church is heated only 20 hours per week)
- 75 percent for electricity (we have the lights on in the hall around 65 hours per week, mostly for renters)
- 30 percent of insurance costs.

Hall maintenance is another expense that we need to consider. The annual maintenance bill for the slate roof is between $1500 to $2000, and it costs approximately $500 for yearly furnace maintenance (our service contract covers does not cover parts).

Beyond the obvious necessity of repairing the roof we need to consider what needs to be done internally to make the space more functional. There are many benefits from a modern commercial kitchen, which includes but is not limited to improved social events and fundraisers. Other uses for the hall could include an area specifically designated for child care.

It will be difficult and of questionable utility to raise the hundreds of thousands required to repair the roof on the hall if we do not address the issues raised above. Building a new hall is one option but we will need to find a way to make it a revenue generator so that it can pay for itself rather than simply accrue unmanageable debt. Regardless of which path we take we will need to be creative about the way that we secure funding.

All members of St. Philip's church are encouraged to join us on Saturday December 9 so that we can begin the process of exploring who we are as a faith community and what that translates to as far as the hall is concerned. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fair Trade Boutique and Nativities Exhibition

This year’s Fair Trade Boutique and Exhibition of Nativities from around the world will take place at the cathedral from Monday 2nd – Saturday 7th December, 12 – 5pm.

These two initiatives will highlight a wide range of handcrafts made by artisan groups in The Philippines, and unique hand-carved olive-wood products made by Christians in Bethlehem.

Please support these cathedral initiatives to help communities in The Philippines get back on their feet after Typhoon Haiyan and show solidarity with Christian minorities in Bethlehem.

Both events will run concurrently. All are welcome to shop at the Boutique and view the Exhibition!

Volunteers are also needed in the following areas:

- Sales person in the Fair Trade Boutique
- Friendly welcomer at the Exhibition of Nativities
- Setting up and merchandising the Boutique and Exhibition
- Advocacy work supporting access to health care for refugee mothers and babies
- Sharing the messages and stories of fair trade with customers
- Publicity, advertising and marketing
- Transporting stock

For further information contact, or 514 550 0054.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NDG Food Depot Annual Food Drive: St. Philip's Assists its Outreach Partner

On Saturday November 30th, St. Philip's Church was transformed into a food distribution center for its outreach partner, the NDG Food Depot. The food drive has been an annual community tradition for 15 years. Not only did St. Philip's serve as a drop-off point, and distribution center, crews from the church joined hundreds of volunteers and knocked on doors to collect non-perishable food items from the local community in Montreal West and NDG.

Thousands of bags of food and other donations were collected to help the Depot with its important work. With 22.8 percent of the population of the Island of Montreal living in poverty, the Food Depot is a valuable community asset.

This has been both a difficult and a rewarding year for the Depot which has been a community institution for a quarter century. In March they lost their home of 20 years after they received an unexpected demolition notice. Despite these challenges they ushered in new programs and more dignified ways of distributing food to give people more choices. They are currently located in a temporary space at Trinity church, but they are still looking for a permanent location.

“The food that we collect today basically provides food for our emergency food service from now until next November, December,” said director Kimberly Martin in a Global News interview.

Notre-Dame-de-Grace Liberal MNA Kathleen Weil said the food depot is vital to the community, helping more than 700 people every week, and that’s why her office offered $6,000 to the organization.

“The needs are greater and greater every year. I think that's the important point, unfortunately. We would like not to have to have food banks, but we need food banks,” she said.

The NDG Food Depot has a highly-engaged Board of Directors and a hardworking staff, but they need your help throughout the year.

For more information or to provide assistance to the NDG Food Depot click here or call (514) 483-4680