May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
I flew home a week ago after spending several days in Ottawa participating in a program offered by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. It was probably the best continuing education that I have done in the 5+ years that I have been here - it left me feeling exhausted and energized, and most importantly feeling more hopeful for the future than I have felt in quite some time. (And apologies to those of you I have spent time with since getting home - I know that I keep talking about the program, and I'm going to talk more here!)
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They are made up of 15 different denominations across the country including our United Church of Canada, and their vision is for a world where nobody is hungry. They do this by providing emergency food assistance in parts of the world that have faced disasters (e.g. war, drought, floods), but more importantly through programs that work with farmers to create more sustainable and resilient food systems (that are locally-appropriate), addressing issues from farming techniques to market opportunities and everything in-between.
There were 25 of us accepted into the Hunger on the Hill program, and we spanned the different denominations that make up CFGB, we came from Halifax and Vancouver and all places in between, and we ranged in age from university students to people well into retirement. We spent a couple of Zoom calls in the weeks leading up to the event, as well as the first couple of days in Ottawa learning about food systems and learning about how to do political advocacy.
Then last Tuesday was our big day. Going out in groups of 3, we had half-hour meetings that the CFGB had set up for us to meet with MPs from 4 of the 5 political parties currently holding seats in parliament (they don't have any connections with the Bloc Quebecois at this time). In each of the meetings, we spoke about the work that Canadian Foodgrains Bank does, and then our big "ask" was that Canada continue to be a leader by increasing our foreign aid going towards climate-resilient food systems in the Global South (without taking foreign aid away from other important sectors). Essentially, we were looking for "champions" for the cause within each political party who will advocate for increased spending on foreign aid for resilient food systems.
With very few exceptions, this message was well-received; and I think that this is one of the big sources of my renewed hope. In one of the MP meetings that my group was involved in, we were explaining the work of CFGB (to an MP who had never encountered this organization before), and when we came to the vision of a world where no one is hungry, the MP interrupted us to say, "I truly believe that this world is possible"; and I responded with "So do we - that's why we're here!"
Looking around our group, here we were, 25 people willing and excited to give our time to learn to use our voices to shape a different world - this gives me hope. Meeting with politicians (even coming from parties that I usually wouldn't vote for) who are willing and eager to become champions for a world where no one is hungry - this gives me hope.
The evening before we went into our meetings on Parliament Hill, the executive director of CFGB, Andy Harrington, met with us, and he opened his talk by quoting from Bruce Cockburn, "you've gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight." We were there in Ottawa to learn how to kick more effectively, and to keep on kicking until a better world dawns.
And I have to trust that this better world is possible... and not only that it is possible, but that it is going to come some day. This is hope.
If you want to do some kicking yourself, here are a couple of ideas:
To learn more about the work of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, you can click here to go to their website. (You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or the platform formerly known as Twitter.)
If you want to learn more about the sorts of resilient food systems that I've been talking about, last Sunday's Minute for Mission described exactly that sort of program that is partnered with Mission & Service - if you missed it (or if you want to read it again), you can find it by clicking here.
If you would like to write a letter to the Minister of Finance to advocate for global food security, the CFGB has a template that will walk you through the process and you can write and send a letter quickly - you will find that by clicking here.
In terms of announcements for this week, we have a couple of things going on!
Worship on Sunday will be at 9:15 at Long Reach and 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live. This week, the lectionary gives us one of my favourite passages in the bible (and I know that you are currently laughing at me, because I have many favourite passages, but this one really is - you might recognize it from the bottom of my e-mails or the back of my business cards) - Matthew 22:34-46. The challenge that I'm running in to this week is: what more do I have to say? Jesus has already said it perfectly (and in much fewer words than my typical sermons!). You'll have to tune in on Sunday to see where I land on it.
Board Game Night - My apologies for getting the date wrong before. If you are the sort of person who checks the calendar regularly, you probably already caught my mistake - the monthly board game night is on the last Friday of the month, which makes it Friday October 27 (not the 29th as previously announced). So... This Friday, the 27th, we'll gather at 7pm in the parlour at Westfield United to play board games (and there will be snacks!). You can bring a favourite game to play with others, or you can join in with someone else's favourite. (And I know based on last month's gathering that there is a group of us eager to get back to playing Dominion!)
Sock it To Me - A reminder that we have been encouraging you to buy warm socks to give to the clients of the Romero Van (thank you, Bette, for organizing this). This Sunday at Long Reach and Westfield, then next Sunday at Summerville, I'll stand at the front of the church holding a box, and you'll have a chance to throw your socks into the box (or at the minister... your choice!) Scanning the flyers, I see that Giant Tiger has 2-packs of thermal socks on for $6 this week, and I'm sure that other stores have deals to find as well!
Thank you - I have a couple of thank-yous related to fundraisers this week. Thank you to Pat Howe (Westfield) for organizing our Time and Talent Auction; and thank you to everyone who offered their time and talents. We raised just over $1000 for the church (and had a lot of fun Friday evening at the auction)! And thank you to Beth Quigley (Long Reach) and everyone from the Long Reach congregation who helped cook and serve the turkey dinner on Saturday night for the Kingston Peninsula Heritage Society. As a guest at the dinner, I can attest that it was an excellent meal!
Remembrance Day Dinner - tickets are available at the Grand Bay Home Hardware for the turkey dinner at Westfield United Church - $20 each. There are sittings at 4pm and 5:30pm, as well as take-out tickets available, but you probably want to get your tickets soon as this dinner usually sells out early.
And I think that's it for this week!
For a closing thought, of course I have to share a couple of links to the song I quoted earlier - "Lovers in a Dangerous Time." You can hear Bruce Cockburn's original version of it by clicking here; but I absolutely love T. Tomason's version which you can hear by clicking here. And then there is the Barenaked Ladies version, which is the first version of this song I remember hearing back in the early '90s - you can hear their version by clicking here. (With such a great song, you can't have too many versions of it!) If all of us kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight, the dawn will eventually come.
Blessings to you and yours, today and always,
Rev. Kate Jones Two Rivers Pastoral Charge (506) 757-2201 (office) (506) 343-1307 (mobile) www.tworiverspastoralcharge.com Pronouns: she/her/hers "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "You must love your neighbour as you love yourself."