Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting Knocked Off Course

Today I am thinking of the times when we get knocked off course; I mean, really hit hard and we can't seem to find our way onto the path again. It could happen due to the loss of a job, a serious illness, after a mate cheats on you. All of a sudden - BOOM - it happens.  Or perhaps you are like many people and you feel like you've been wandering in the desert for several years and you're not sure how to get out of it.

None of us particularly enjoy these times, which can be characterized by depression, loss of appetite, increase in appetite, anxiety, lack of interest in things we once enjoyed, the loss of important people in our lives. Songs or books that used to help don't seem to help anymore.

Our initial response to such times is often to find a way out of it. We try friends, spiritual activities, talk to a therapist or pastor (which can sometimes be very helpful).  But what if rather than getting over our pain as quickly as possible, we are meant to feel our pain and walk through the desert rather than take a detour.  We live in a culture where happiness is sought after more than almost anything. And it stands that sadness or darkness is frowned upon.  Often navigating these dark periods with a good friend or good therapist is a good idea, especially if one is particularly depressed.  But even then the goal should not necessarily be to take the depression away, but to understand it.

Dark times may be needed in our lives to teach us important lessons, as hard as they are. Sure, it would be nice to know where we were going to end up, but that defeats the purpose of the journey. During this time you may have to take time off work, or friends, or family members. They may not understand, but this is a growth-time for you.  Be selfish.

The only encouragement I can give to you is that you will survive.

You may look almost unrecognizable when you come through the other side, but you will be more fully yourself.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Emerging Church & Six Flags Over Jesus

The following is a sermon by Rev. Roger Ray of Community Christian Church of Springfield, Missouri.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Your Heart Is Greater Than Your Wounds

The following is an entry from Henri Nouwen's journal "The Inner Voice of Love." I came across these words at the perfect time today. I will comment afterwards.

Live Your Wounds Through
You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged, because under every wound you uncover you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears still need to be shed.
But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.
The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds. 
Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart. Going to your heart with your wounds is not easy; it demands letting go of many questions. You want to know "Why was I wounded? When? How? By whom?" You believe that the answers to these questions will bring relief. But at best they only offer you a little distance from your pain. You have to let go of the need to stay in control of your pain and trust in the healing power of your heart. There your hurts can find a safe place to be received, and once they have been received, they lose their power to inflict damage and become fruitful soil for new life.
Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through. 
Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutes and universities in his home country of the Netherlands and in the United States. He shared the final years of his life with people with mental and physical disabilities at the L'Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto, Canada. He died in 1996. This particular excerpt comes from a collection of his journals, "The Inner Voice of Love."
I type Nouwen's words into this blog as I sit in a comfy chair inside a coffee shop in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, the city in which I live.  It has not been the best of days; typically I wake up with a lot of anxiety, much of which is left-over from wounds which I've carried for decades.

My first instinct is to think my problems through as if they were scientific problems. There's only one problem with this; my mind doesn't work all that well these days as I suffer from chronic to major depression as well as anxiety disorders. So instead of helping me, taking my wounds to my head to think them through only causes more harm.

I agree with Nouwen that what I must do is give all of those mind-questions to God, who resides deep within my heart. This is not easy to do when you've grown into a pattern of worrying or when there are distractions everywhere.  But it turns out that concentrating on my pain and my wounds only irritates them further. I must become the trapeze artist who trusts that there is a net underneath me that will carry me, if only I will focus on the immediate task at hand.  There really is something to all of this Eckhart Tolle-being-present stuff.

God, or whatever you may call him/her - Mother, Father, Spirit, Inner Voice, The Universe - knows our wounds thoroughly and it is to her we must turn if we are ever to receive healing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Not Dying To Know About The Afterlife

This past week my mother and I got to talking about death and funerals, and I started mentioning certain things that I would want at my funeral. She advised me to write it all down, so this afternoon I took the time to type out my funeral plans; the pallbearers, officiants, all of it.  As I said to my friends, it's an exercise that's one part morbid and three parts narcissism. But heck, I enjoyed it!

When it comes to the afterlife, I used to have it all figured out. Because I blurted out a sentence as a 7 year old saying that I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Saviour, I'd be going to heaven. That's all it took.  And what did heaven look like? I took certain parts of the Bible, and then added in some very popular but non-Biblical ideas.  There would be streets of gold, everyone would have a mansion, there would be choirs, there would be no crying there.  Then I added in the widely-held belief that I'd see all my loved ones who had died before me and we'd all be happy.  It's a nice thought, but I don't think that we find that in the Bible.  It's also unclear as to if one goes to the afterlife immediately after death. There is wide-spread belief that that is the case, and it is preached perhaps to soften the blow of death. But one could interpret the Bible as saying that we are instead raised at a later date.

Ask me what I believe about the afterlife now, and it's much simpler. First of all I say "I don't know," and then I follow that up with, "I believe that I came from Love, I live in Love, and one day I will die into Love."  Anything else is mere conjecture to me.

I don't think that we should spend much time thinking about the afterlife. One thing that we are learning as humans in 2012 is that "being present" is key to lowering the avalanche of stress that we are often faced with. We should not be preoccupied with what happens when we take our last earthly breath. Indeed, we should not be worried about tomorrow, because as a wise man once said "Tomorrow will worry about itself."  All I should worry about is today, and I shouldn't even worry about it; I should enjoy it.

I am here.

I am here at a coffee shop.

I am here at a coffee shop enjoying my double-creamed, double-sugared coffee.

I am sitting in a comfortable booth with nice padding.

I just thoroughly enjoyed a jazzed up version of Lesley Gore's It's My Party that was playing over the sound system.

I have the opportunity to write and to freely share my thoughts on the Internet.

I will do my best to enjoy today. I am not dying to know about the afterlife.

Isn't It Ironic, Don't You Think?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On Not Worrying About The Future

"What matters is living our lives in the power of love and not worrying too much about the results. In doing this, the means become part of the end. Hence we lose the sense of helplessness and futility in the face of the world's crushing problems. We also lose the craving for success, always focusing on the goal to the exclusion of the way of getting there. We must literally not take too much thought for the morrow but throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the present. That is the beauty of the way of love; it cannot be planned and its end cannot be foretold." ~ Wolf Mendl, Quaker author, 1974.

Creedless Religion: Work Out Your Own Beliefs

The Unitarian Chalice
It is always interesting and sometimes perplexing to come across religions that readily admit that they hold no creed. It seems so strange because when people think of religion, they still often think of a set of rules or beliefs that one must believe in and live by in order to be "saved." (And such creeds are often the reason that people have no time for religion).

I have been a member of two religions or spiritual movements that do not have set creeds, Unity, and currently Unitarianism. Instead, each has sets of principles which members affirm, but congregants are free to disagree when it comes to theology, with no threat of excommunication.

I have also attended several meetings of the local Religious Society of Friends, more popularly known as Quakers. The following is from the publication North Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 1984:
"For many unfamiliar with Quakers, the way we speak of our faith and the diversity of belief found among us may be perplexing. Even those who have been among Friends for a while may find it challenging to sort out our theology. This difficulty arises in part from the fact that the Society of Friends is not a single, homogeneous group but a large spiritual family with several branches that have evolved in different directions over the past three centuries. Another part of the challenge in understanding Quaker faith derives from our attitude towards creeds or other formal statements of faith. Friends do not make a written creedal statement the test of faith or the measure of suitability for membership.
The lack of a creed has sometimes led to the misconception that Friends do not have beliefs or that one can believe anything and be a Friend.  However, most Quakers take the absence of a creed as an invitation and encouragement to exercise an extra measure of personal responsibility for the articulation of faith. Rather than rely on priests or professional theologians, each believer is encouraged to take seriously the personal disciplines associated with spiritual growth. Out of lives of reflection, prayer, faithfulness, and service flow the statements of belief, both in word and in deed, which belong to Friends."
Having a creed that we can recite (such as the Nicene Creed) can be very meaningful for many people, I acknowledge that. However, I prefer these more "fluid" religions, which leaves more of a responsibility on the individual and makes people, including myself, ask, "How am I living my life lately? I know I'm in no threat from any church or religious organization, or God for that matter, so what do I do now?"  As I recently read somewhere, "Religion is what you do on Monday through Saturday, not just on Sundays."  I think that personal practices and disciplines such as reflection and prayer, spiritual reading and writing are important, and then I must take what I have learned and go into the world and act differently. In a world of injustice, I seek justice. In a world that focuses on the wealthy, I focus on the poor. In a world that demands that my needs are met yesterday, I instead learn patience. It excites me to see religions that realize and embrace the evolution of their institutions.

I'll end off with sharing the 7 Principles of the Canadian Unitarian Council:

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Mark Andrew Nouwen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Because God Told Me To Do It

"I can count on one hand the number of times in my life when I have experienced what I would consider to be a true leading of the Spirit. In each case, these leadings have been characterized by a compulsion to act, fears that I would not be able to live up to what was being required of me, and a deeper sense that I wasn't being asked to do this entirely on my own strength. In any case, I knew that a decision not to act upon my conscience would be like a small death, a failure to allow myself to grow and discover in myself new strengths and courage." ~ Ruth Walmsley, Quaker.

Perhaps you've heard it before. You're talking to a good friend and they're speaking of an action they're planning on taking, and they use those words: "God told me to do it."  Our tendency can be one of skepticism, where we roll our eyes as if to say, "Oh no, not another one!" I personally haven't used these words in a very long time, because I know how they make one sound, but like Ruth Walmsley, I have received leadings or "promptings" of the Spirit. I have more time for people who word it that way rather than "God told me so."

Unlike Walmsley, who wrote that she could "count on one hand" the number of times she experienced these leadings, I have felt for several years that I have been in regular contact with the Spirit, pretty much every day.  These promptings do not come from an outside source, a big-dude-in-the-sky. Rather, they come within my spirit, where I believe God truly dwells.  I'm not going to describe this correctly, but I think it can depend on if you are a person who tends to rely more on what they see and what makes complete sense, or if you're someone who listens to your heart and soul; I have always been the latter (which of course makes me no better than the former).  I am someone who desperately wants to listen for, hear from, and act in response to the Divine.

I'm sure that there are a few things by which you can test if something is "from God." My criteria include:

  1. What God seems to be prompting you to do cannot harm yourself or others.
  2. It must enhance your humanity.
  3. It must help others.
  4. It must increase the amount of love in the world.
  5. It must be subject to change.
Some people like to think of God as "the Rock" and never-changing, and I understand that. For instance, I believe that God's Love never changes, because love is what God is.  But in many other ways, I think that God is evolving along with us and that she is flexible and spontaneous and can change her mind.  I never again want to be rigid and ideological where God has no room to breathe and I condemn others because their beliefs are not the same as mine.  

So what does God regularly tell me?  There are a few things that I am willing to share:

  1. Do NOT be afraid. Release it. Let it go.
  2. You are worthy of all the love that you receive.
  3. You have much to give to the world.
  4. Find your niche and run with it.
  5. Do what you're passionate about.
  6. Rely on me for your needs.
  7. Choose either Zooey Deschanel, Emily VanCamp, or Erin Karpluk for your wife (ok ok, that may not be God)
I'm sure there is more, but those are the core messages I receive from the Divine on almost a daily basis. Not my choice is this...

Will I listen and act, or will I remain mired in the muck and fear? It's my choice.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marking International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

As LGBTQ Representative for Kitchener-Centre's New Democrats, I mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  This day is commemorated each year on May 17th because  homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.  

On this day I remember when I myself was a homophobe. My fundamentalist religious upbringing taught me that anything beyond heterosexuality on the sexual spectrum was evil, and I was part of the losing battle to have the definition of marriage kept between a man and a woman. And then something happened. I actually started to talk to people who held different viewpoints than myself, I reached beyond my circle and I realized that maybe, just maybe I didn't hold all the answers. Then near the end of high school my best friend Ken sat me down and revealed to me that he is gay.  Since that time I have educated myself, evolved my understanding of love, and am very privileged to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning friends.

But this day is not about me, it is about standing up against homophobia and transphobia wherever it may exist. We are fortunate to live in Canada where there is equal marriage and many laws protecting the LGBTQ community (though we still have a ways to go). Today I think of our LGBTQ family in parts of the world where people are forced to stay in their closets or face jail-time or even death, just because of who they are and who they love.  Today, myself and Kitchener Centre's New Democrats stand with our LGBTQ family and vow to continue to fight for complete equality and better laws to protect our brothers and sisters.  We also remember those who have already suffered and died just for being who they are.

On today, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we stand and say "Let Love Rule," and we celebrate all the colours of the rainbow.

Mark Andrew Alward
Kitchener Centre's New Democrats - LGBTQ Representative

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

There Is Real Religion And There Is The Empty Shell Of Religion

"Religion, too, often avoids the dark by hiding behind platitudes and false assurances. Nothing is more irrelevant than feeble religious piousness in the face of stark, life-threatening darkness. Religion tends to sentimentalize the light and demonize the darkness. If you turn to spirituality to find only a positive and wholesome attitude, you are using spirituality to avoid life's dark beauty. Religion easily becomes a defense and avoidance. Of course, this is not the real purpose of religion, and the religious traditions of the world, full of beautifully stated wisdom, are your best source of guidance in the dark. But there is real religion and there is the empty shell of religion. Know the difference. Your life is at stake.

Flight from the dark infantilizes your spirituality, because the dark nights of the soul are supposed to initiate you into spiritual adulthood. You have to be exceptionally alert in the sphere of religion, becaues for all its beauty and substance, it can be full of traps."

~ Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Population Foregoes Better Angels, Creates Special Place In Hell For Rafferty

Woodstock, Ontario

The gavel came down and the smell of sulfur could almost be tasted outside the courtroom in London, Ontario. Michael Rafferty, the child killer who always maintained innocence, was convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of 8 year old Woodstock native Tori Stafford, a heinous crime indeed. Rafferty was subsequently sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, the maximum under Canadian law for the 2009 crime.

The verdict set off muted celebration in Woodstock, with the mayor announcing that peace and healing could finally begin, with almost everyone saying that "he had it coming to him."

The Waterloo Region Record Editorial Board went so far as to publish a letter to The Parole Board of Canada, May 2037, the year of Rafferty's first eligibility of parole. Among other things, the Record wrote:

"We cannot say how successful Canada’s penal system will be in rehabilitating him. We hope that after the passage of a quarter of a century he will have admitted his crimes, apologized to the family of his victim as well as the general community which he frightened and scandalized. Perhaps prison psychologists and counsellors will instill in him a basic sense of morality while treating his unquestionably depraved state of mind. We doubt this will be possible. To gaze into his blank, remorseless eyes after his arrest was to recognize a force both sinister and incorrigible. Yet whatever progress the system and its professionals can achieve in this regard, we would submit that Mr. Rafferty can never be rehabilitated to the point at which he can safely and justly be released into open society."

I applaud (yes, that's sarcasm) The Waterloo Region Record for being able to fortune-tell that Rafferty will not be able to be rehabilitated to the point that he can safely be released. While I definitely agree that Michael Rafferty deserved the sentence he was given and must be punished, I submit that no-one can mind-read 25 years into the future.

Instead of letting go, or even attempting to let go of hate for Mr. Rafferty and implementing virtues of loving thy neighbour and The Golden Rule (doing unto others as you would have them do unto you), there is no shortage of people in small-town Ontario today who are undoubtedly praying for a special spot in Hell for Michael Rafferty, as well as his accomplice Terri-Lynne McClintic. Visions of the two being cast into the lake of fire dance in their heads.

But when the rawness of the weeks of testimony end, we hope that people will again listen to their better angels and remember what we each truly crave for: love. "But where was the love for Tori Stafford, the always-smiling victim of these heinous crimes?" There was no love there. But we would do well to listen to the words of two wise men from our planet's history. Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and Mahatma Ghandi said that if the world practised the often quoted "eye for an eye" passage, the world would end up completely blind and toothless.

Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic must pay for their crimes, but to make them objects of hate and hell-hyperbole will only fill our own hearts full of hate, which will do nothing to bring Tori Stafford home.

~ Mark Andrew Alward

Why I Don't Pay Attention To The News Anymore

I have a confession to make: I rarely spend more than 2 minutes on any news website, and I am watching the evening news less and less.

Take this morning for example. The lead story on The Toronto Star's website is about the sentencing of Michael Rafferty, a man who raped and murdered an 8-year-old girl about an hour away from where I live here in Kitchener, Ontario.  The subsequent front-page stories are:

  • Toronto taxi driver charged with murder in skateboarder’s death
  • Employment Insurance Reform: Changes will drive down wages for everyone
  • Pickering nuclear stations among most expensive, least reliable in the world
  • Toronto police charge Olympic sprinter and gold medalist Donovan Bailey
  • Blood-filled syringes hidden in clothes prick Sherbrooke shoppers

And these are just stories from Canada.  Scroll down and I'm sure I'd find stories of the dour European economy and the 50 Mexicans that were found beheaded at the side of a road yesterday, likely due to drug wars.

Do we - do I - really need to know about such things? You might argue that it is good to know what is going on around you and in the world, and that not keeping up with the news is akin to sticking your head in the sand.

But I disagree.

There's no reason that I need to fill my mind with macabre and depressing stories over which I have no control whatsoever.  What can I do instead? I suggest - and I am no master at it yet - living a much simpler life where my main concern is looking after those people and situations that are in my immediate circle. Caring for a sick aunt, sitting down for coffee and encouraging a friend who has just lost a loved one. Taking up causes in my immediate neighbourhood and making my little world a better place, rather than filling my mind with awful news stories that I have no control over day in and day out.  

If we all learned to take care of ourselves, our friends and family, and the immediate concerns around us instead of filling our minds with all the garbage that we find in the media, then we would see the more peaceful, happy world we would all like to see.

Instead we go to MSNBC, where the headlines are:
  • Former Presidential candidate John Edwards appears in court
  • Iranians feel the pain of sanctions
  • Cops release 911 calls in case of missing Arizona girl
  • 5 dead in Florida murder-suicide

I don't need to know any of this. I can fill my mind with brighter things. So I will continue to quickly browse the headlines, watch the news for 5 minutes, and quickly move on. Because as they say, garbage in, garbage out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

When Same-Sex Marriage Was A Christian Rite

St. Sergius & St. Bacchus
Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding.
The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.

Is the icon suggesting that a gay "wedding" is being sanctified by Christ himself? The idea seems shocking. But the full answer comes from other early Christian sources about the two men featured in the icon, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who were Christian martyrs. These two officers in the Roman army incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian when they were exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple. Both were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged. Sergius survived torture but was later beheaded. Legend says that Bacchus appeared to the dying Sergius as an angel, telling him to be brave because they would soon be reunited in heaven.

While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early Christian church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly intimate. Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch (AD 512 - 518) explained that, "we should not separate in speech they [Sergius and Bacchus] who were joined in life". This is not a case of simple "adelphopoiia." In the definitive 10th century account of their lives, St. Sergius is openly celebrated as the "sweet companion and lover" of St. Bacchus. Sergius and Bacchus's close relationship has led many modern scholars to believe they were lovers. But the most compelling evidence for this view is that the oldest text of their martyrology, written in New Testament Greek describes them as "erastai,” or "lovers". In other words, they were a male homosexual couple. Their orientation and relationship was not only acknowledged, but it was fully accepted and celebrated by the early Christian church, which was far more tolerant than it is today.

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12thand/ early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.

Same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe list in great detail some same gender ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents. One Greek 13th century rite, "Order for Solemn Same-Sex Union", invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, and called on God to "vouchsafe unto these, Thy servants [N and N], the grace to love one another and to abide without hate and not be the cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God, and all Thy saints". The ceremony concludes: "And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded".

Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic "Office of the Same Sex Union", uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands. After kissing the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the 18th century.

The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books, “Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, homophobic writings didn’t appear in Western Europe until the late 14th century. Even then, church-consecrated same sex unions continued to take place.

At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope's parish church) in 1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy, "taking communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together" according to a contemporary report. Another woman to woman union is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century.

Prof. Boswell's academic study is so well researched and documented that it poses fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians about their own modern attitudes towards homosexuality.

For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be cowardly and deceptive. The evidence convincingly shows that what the modern church claims has always been its unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is, in fact, nothing of the sort.

It proves that for the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom, from Ireland to Istanbul and even in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given love and committment to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honored and blessed, through the Eucharist in the name of, and in the presence of, Jesus Christ.

Slowing Down As A Way To God

"Emptiness and fullness at first seem complete opposites.  But in the spiritual life they are not.  In the spiritual life we find the fulfillment of our deepest desires by becoming empty for God." - Henri Nouwen

I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for spiritual or self-help books. If I visit a bookstore you will inevitably find me in the religion or self-help sections. Most of the books on my bookshelves are of such a nature. And there is a place for such books; many have helped me greatly along my spiritual journey thus far.  But they can also be another example of trying to fill up our lives with something in order to find the way to God.  

We can also fill our time with audio-books, music, the wisdom of friends, classes, workshops, etc.  But the irony is that sometimes the more "stuff" we gather in order to get closer to God, the farther away He/She may seem.  We hear that call from the Divine, calling us to closer intimacy with Her, yet the answer isn't busyness, but a slowing down. A walk in the woods, an embrace of a friend, 10 minutes journalling about our deepest fears and dreams.  And it can sometimes mean removing some of the things in our lives that are preventing us from intimacy with the Holy. Turning off our cellphone, leaving the laptop at home, etc.  It seems incredibly harder to do such things these days as life becomes busier and more demanding, but if we leave no room for "God-time" then we - I - shouldn't be surprised when I don't feel spiritually satisfied.

Jesus knew the value of traveling light. I think of verses such as selling all that you have and giving it to the poor, or when he asked his disciples to pray with him in Gethsemane but that seemed too hard a task for them.  

Our minds are busy, cluttered places; same goes for our emotions. And they'll remain that way until we learn to slow down.  In a holy moment, Jesus is said to have "emptied himself" to God during the last moments of his life, which led to new life. May we be able to do the same daily.

Mark Andrew Alward

A Few Life Lessons On A Sunny Mother's Day

My Mom, Debbie Alward, & I

First of all I would like to wish my Mom, Debbie, a Happy Mother's Day.  We have always had a close relationship and she has always been there for me no matter what, with love and understanding.  Who could ask for more from a mother?

I thought I'd sit down and write a few thoughts down, as my last number of entries here have been quotes from other people, particularly the Catholic writer Henri Nouwen and the Quaker writer Philip Gulley.

So, here's a few things I am learning about life, in no particular order:

  1. I think that rather than running away from pain, be it emotional, mental, or otherwise, we must learn to engage our pain, to feel it rather than suppressing it and trying to bury it farther into ourselves, or distracting ourselves from it as we are tempted to do.  We need to talk about our past wounds and our present pain. Like me, maybe you have been through some type of abuse. Rather than stuffing it inside or trying to pretend like it never happened, as painful as it is, it helps to talk about it. Perhaps the only person we can do this with at first is a therapist, and that's ok. But the more we talk about our pain, the quicker the healing. A physical wound can't heal without first being cleaned out, covered by a balm, but eventually getting some fresh air.
  2. It's hard to know when to stay at home and be by yourself and when to allow yourself to be distracted. In general though, especially in today's world of Androids, iPods, Blackberrys, Tivo, etc, we easily can get disconnected from God and from our true selves. This leads to the next point.
  3. Only God (or whatever you wish to call the Divine) can truly satisfy me (I'll personalize this point because I know there are readers who don't believe in God).  The problem with many relationships or activities that we occupy our time with is that we expect them to heal our minds and heal our hearts. And we get mad when they can't do it. The author Nouwen says that we must turn to God in solitude, but also that a spiritual discipline is that of community. Although not one person can truly fulfill all of our needs, the community can hold us up when needed.
  4. Trust in God is something that we only learn as we practice it; it doesn't just fall into our laps and all of a sudden everything is a bed of roses. I must work on this a lot.  We can give God whatever we are struggling with at the moment, and God knows our needs. We can seek first the kingdom of God (and God is Love), and all things will be given to us.  It is, then, our job to trust God in the face of all sorts of circumstances, and then to leave them with Her. It's like dropping something off at the laundromat. We don't drop a suit off, then 5 minutes later go back and ask for it back. There can be a waiting involved.
  5. If we learn to live in love, our needs, as deep as they may seem, will be satisfied by God. There is a power at work in our world, and in our lives that is profoundly deeper and wiser than we imagine.
  6. What we believe in, whether it be a theology or a philosophy, does not matter as much as how we are living our lives in the world. I can blog all I want about theology and religion, but if it is not making me a better, more loving friend, then what's the use?
Anyways, those are a few things that I am learning. A Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, especially my Mom, because she is the best. :)

Arise, Then, Women Of This Day!

Julia Ward Howe
American abolitionist, social activist, & poet
"Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

~ Julia Ward Howe

(from the original Mother's Day Proclamation (1870), as a day for mothers to unite against war. Mother's Day became a national holiday in the United States in 1914 after the prompting of Anna Jarvis. Mere years later, she regretted ever coming up with the idea because of the commercialization of it.)

Michael Rafferty & Terri-Lynne McClintic: Who Will Be There To Love Them?

Tori Stafford, 8, was murdered 3 years ago. Both Michael Rafferty & Terri-Lynne McClintic have been convicted of her murder.

If you are an American or International reader of The Loving Room, you probably will not have heard of Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic. McClintic, 21, plead guilty two years ago to the murder of 8-year-old Woodstock, Ontario native Victoria "Tori" Stafford, and just this week her former boyfriend Rafferty, 31, was convicted on all three counts: first degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm, and kidnapping. The disturbing case has been in the news for years - if it had been in America, CNN would have devoted hours and hours to it - and is finally coming to a close. Neither McClintic or Rafferty will probably ever see freedom again, and I'm not here to argue one way or the other whether they should or not. Snuffing out the life of a beautiful little girl is inexcusable and a true tragedy.

But what do we do with murderers like these? There were cheers on Facebook when Rafferty was convicted the other day. But what now?  Although I am no longer a fundamentalist Christian, there are a few verses that will not escape me. One is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And the words of Jesus who said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt. 5:43-44, ESV).  

Say what, Jesus? What have you been smoking? There must be an "out" clause when it comes to "monsters" such as the murderers of Tori Stafford. No, it seems that there is no out clause. I believe you and I are called to love even who we would consider to be the worst of society. People do not have to "deserve" love in order for us to give it. Does this mean that we open up the cells of every prisoner and let them walk free? Of course not.  The public must be protected. But we must do better than to lock them up and let prisoners sit there with no chance of rehabilitation. It bothers me how we are so quick to cheer a person's guilty verdict when it does nothing to bring back the person who died.  What we are left with is a dead victim, and two convicted killers who have shattered mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.

What must we do? First of all, shut off the tv and close the newspapers because our fascination with such cases is macabre. And then we should listen to Jesus once again. Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22, ESV) It is only through forgiveness and love that we can move on personally and as a society. And the way that we prevent the Terri McClintic's and Michael Rafferty's from becoming murderous people is by showing them, and each other pure and consistent love.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Future Of Christianity: A Balm & Blessing To Hurting People Everywhere

"The future of Christianity will rest in our ability to make our spiritual boundaries more porous, welcome the wisdom of other faiths, and borrow the best from other spiritual traditions, even as we share with them the stories and insights of Christianity. This in no way dishonors the contributions of Jesus, but recalls his appreciation for those persons thought to be outside the circle of God's favor. When searching for an example of faith, he lifted up a Roman centurion. When illustrating compassion, Jesus spoke of a despised Samaritan who stopped to help. His willingness to see the good beyond his own tradition is a clear reminder for us to do the same.

Christianity, from its very start, was an invitation to believe God was at work in the wider world, far beyond the parameters of any one religion. When the church has forgotten the expansiveness of God, it has descended into a narrowness of mind and a meanness of spirit. When the church has remembered, it has been a light to the world and a balm and blessing to hurting people everywhere. To celebrate the life and witness of God in other faiths is not to diminish Christianity, but to elevate a core conviction of its namesake. This, I believe, should be the work and witness of the twenty-first-century church. This expansiveness of spirit will not be reached by our rigid adherence to orthodoxy, but by our willingness to enter into spiritual community with others, who though they might believe differently, still embody a high regard for the Divine Presence who enlivens and embraces us all."

~ Philip Gulley, The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating A Better Christianity (2012)

Rethinking Evangelism: Reconciliation, Not Recruitment

"Our passion for recruitment lies in our desire to have others make the same religious choices we have made, thereby confirming our wisdom and good sense. In that sense, recruitment is a self-centered activity, valuing others primarily for their willingness and ability to confirm our decisions. But a church centered on reconciliation, not recruitment, begins with the assumption that others are our equal partners in loving work, not targets for our evangelism. When that is the case, we will no longer view those outside the church as mistaken, confused, spiritually lost, or damned. Instead, we will see in them the very potential and promise Jesus saw in those he encountered."

~ Philip Gulley "The Evolution of Faith"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Salvation: Moving Together Toward Holy Beauty

"Though I have dedicated much of my adult life to the work of the church, there are some aspects of its life with which I am uncomfortable, the chief one being its certitude when a little doubt was in order. Nowhere is this certainty more present than when the church has spoken of salvation. We not only know who is saved - if not specifically, then at least theoretically - but we have refined the formula by which salvation happens and can replicate the exact scenario, as if God were a well-trained deity awaiting our command to fetch and heel.

My experience is otherwise. While I believe God delights in the divine/human intersection, it seldom happens predictably. I attend meeting for worship each Sunday, hoping to experience a moment of connection and many times have. But I have also left our meetinghouse feeling as if the hammer missed the anvil, that no spiritual sparks were generated. I don't believe God was playing hard to get or making herself absent so hour hearts would grove fonder. Rather, I believe like all moments of transcendent beauty, our experiences of salvation are unpredictable, not dependent on a set of theological laws, but more on timing, whimsy, sensitivity, and the intersection of random events. Let me offer an example.

Near my home is a meadow of wildflowers that I walk through several times a week the year round. Sometimes the meadow seems drab: the sky is overcast, the grasses and flowers bent and brown, the trees bare, and the air cold, damp, and uncomfortable. Other times the meadow is radiant: the flowers are in full bloom, the sky is blue, the temperature is ideal, and the sun is shining, striking the blossoms at an angle that makes them appear even more colorful and vibrant. A variety of factors - the sun, the plants, the time of day, the wind, the climate, the season - conspire to make that meadow a paradise.

While I cannot control those variables, I can place myself in a position so that I am more likely to experience their intersection. This is why I regularly and frequently visit the meadow, to increase my opportunities to witness such loveliness. When I speak of salvation as a paradox, this is what I mean. While we cannot demand that God be known to us at a specific time to bless us in a particular way, our opportunities to experience salvation, our chances of being wholly united with God, others, and creation rise as we "visit the meadow" or cultivate our sensitivity to God's presence.

What is the consequence of these encounters? What happens when we experience the Divine Presence? We are more adequately equipped to commit our hearts, souls, minds, and strength toward the divine purposes of growth and betterment, the growth and betterment not only of the self, but of others, indeed even the growth and betterment of our enemy.

This is why, even though I no longer believe some of the more traditional assertions of the church, I continue to participate in its life, just as I continue to visit the meadow. I want to be a witness to beauty. I want to expand my opportunities to encounter the Divine Presence. I want to feel more deeply connected with my fellow beings and be more a part of the surrounding creation.

I place myself among others, i walk the meadows, because I no longer want to be just an "I" but an "us" Perhaps this is what the monk had in mind when he was approached by a well-intentioned Christian who asked him if Jesus was his personal Savior. "No," the monk answered, "not my personal one. I've always preferred sharing him."

What if this were salvation, so that even as our hearts, souls, minds, and strength are growing, so are others'; all of us moving together toward holy beauty and perfection, transforming ourselves and delighting God? This is an evolved Christianity I could happily and wholeheartedly embrace."

~ Philip Gulley "The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating A Better Christianity" (2012)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pessimistic Religion & Its Effects On Society

"Pessimistic religion is quick to point out our failures, hastens to remind us of our inability to solve them on our own, then demands we place our faith and trust in a deity of its own invention, whose track record for alleviating human suffering is spotty. Why the moral, logical, and spiritual bankruptcy of this dismal worldview is not readily discerned and acknowledged by otherwise intelligent persons is beyond me.

The rejection of human goodness, resourcefulness, and power, coupled with a belief in a 'celestial rescuer,' hinders our ability to face our problems squarely, assess our challenges realistically, and overcome them creatively and decisively. In that sense, negative religion is the enemy of human progress. Those who hold such views should be treated graciously, but their religion should be recognized for what it is - an outdated, implausible, superstitious faith, whose contributions to the modern world are negligible, whose harm is substantial. Whenever it dominates a culture, people are diminished, progress is scorned, and prejudice is sanctified, all in the name of God, whose goodness comes always at the expense of human virtue. By this I mean that for God to be a rescuer, humans have to be fallen and corrupt, in need of a savior. Thus, in negative religion, it is logically impossible for both God and human to be simultaneously virtuous. Those who believe that religion should uplift our spirits and expand our minds should soundly reject any religion that asserts such a bleak and twisted view of human nature."

~Philip Gulley The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating A Better Christianity (2012)

The God-Bearers

"Whenever someone adamantly claims to possess a particular virtue, it is almost a certainty he or she does not. Those who repeatedly emphasize their Christian faith often act most unchristian. Those who boast of their wisdom are usually foolish. People who speak of their fidelity are often snared in the web of unfaithfulness. Those who try to convince the rest of us they enjoy an exclusive relationship with God are often spiritually corrupt. This is to say that people who tell us they are God-bearers probably aren't.

Those who bear the Divine Presence will not have to point it out to the rest of us. We will see it in their conduct, in their humility, in their grace to others, in their compassion for the hurting, in their truth-telling that helps us grow, in their challenge to evil, in their courage in the face of abusive power, and in their yearning for justice."

~ Philip Gulley The Evolution of Faith (2012)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

American President Barack Obama Makes History, Endorses Gay Marriage!

A BIG congratulations to my American readers and friends on this historic day, when President Barack Obama  officially endorsed same-sex marriage!

An Evolved Christianity Will Talk Less And Act More

"My hope is that an evolving Christianity will reflect the egalitarian spirit of Jesus, not the elitism of the entrenched church. It will no longer presume that having male genitalia uniquely equips someone for leadership. Nor will it assume heterosexuals are capable of ministry in a way homosexuals are not. It will listen carefully to its young people, letting their enthusiasm and yearning for authenticity inspire a passionate and relevant faith. It will console the brokenhearted, speak for the voiceless, befriend the weak, challenge the powerful, and call to leadership those who handle power well - not for selfish gain but for selfless service.

An evolved Christianity will not insist we believe the absurd, affirm the incredible, or support a theology that degrades humanity. It will be a friend of science, working joyfully alongside the best minds in the world on a common mission to embrace and enhance life. This Christianity will talk less and act more. I recently attended a church gathering in which a committee had been asked to draft a resolution against torture. They had spent an entire year writing a short paragraph on which everyone on the committee could finally agree but no one else would likely read. When a woman rose to suggest they actually do something to prevent torture rather than just write words against it, she was criticized for not cooperating. People no longer listen to the church's pronouncements. No one waits with bated breath for the church to wade in with its perspective. We craft missives, epistles, and minutes that are first ignored, then forgotten. Nor do governments change their policies because Christians have collected on a street corner to sing "We Shall Overcome." But when ministers are bold and prophetic, when Christians rise from their pews and work and sweat and invest their lives, people take notice and lives are changed."

~ Philip Gulley The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating A Better Christianity

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Continued Ignorance & Fear Being Perpetuated By Anti-Gay Religious Leaders

As many of you will know, I am the LGBTQ Representative for Kitchener-Centre's New Democratic Party. Tonight I have the opportunity to speak on a local TV show about Gay-Straight Alliance clubs within the government funded Catholic School System.

As Kitchener Centre's NDP, we are committed not just to tolerance and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning individuals, but to celebrating their vital place within our society.  We embrace sexual diversity whole-heartedly. 

The local Catholic Board put out a document in January called Respecting Difference, which says  that “persons of homosexual inclinations first and foremost are human beings created by God and worthy of respect.” It is a tragic fact however that more and more teenaged LGBTQ  youth are not only being bullied, but are taking their own lives because they feel alone. Strong, supportive gay-straight alliances provide a place where these youth can be real, honest, and appreciated.  

Currently the Ontario Liberal government under Premier Dalton McGuinty is pushing through Bill C-13, called the Accepting Schools Act which allows for gay-straight alliances within both the Public and also government-funded Catholic School boards.

Yesterday, several people including those who represent religious groups, spoke out against Bill C-13, and as per usual, their arguments were fear-based and mostly ignorant of scientific fact.  One rabbi said that people are not bullied because of their sexual orientation, an unfortunately well-known Canadian evangelical leader claimed that his "precious 14-year-old girl would be forced to be taught about oral and anal sex," and a black leader equated the bill to slavery. Sheesh. Will somebody send me the current date, including year?  

To read more about this ridiculous meeting, visit Xtra!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Don't Always Buy What Christians Are Selling

"By excluding so many people from theological exploration, we increase the theological ignorance in our society, making people especially vulnerable to bad theology and unscrupulous purveyors of self-serving religion. A woman who lost her young child to leukemia was told it was because of unconfessed sin in her life. Because the woman was theologically uneducated, and the person pronouncing judgment buttressed his declaration with scriptures, she believed the pronouncement to be true and plunged into an abyss of guilt where she suffered for many years before seeking counselling. Others give money to the church they can't spare to unprincipled hucksters who promise God's wealth and favor in return. Still others persist in abusive relationships believing it is God's will. On a far too regular basis, millions of people suffer the venomous effects of ill-conceived religion. That so relatively few people test theological assertions with reason, science, and logic is a testament to religion's ability to both seduce and silence its adherents. It is no wonder more and more thoughtful people are finding atheism an attractive choice.

For too many years Christianity has been more about constraint and less about liberation. Bound by dated creeds, traditions and doctrines, the Christianity of the past has held too many of its disciples back, not carried them forward."

~ Philip Gulley "The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating A Better Christianity" (2012)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Homosexuality Is An Abomination...But Go Ahead And Buy A Slave!

Dr. Laura Schlesinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice
to people who call in to her radio show. On air she has said that, as
an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according
to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The
following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident,
which was posted on the Internet. It partially contains a speech given by President Bartlett on "The West Wing." It's funny, as well as

Dear Dr. Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I
have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that
knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend
the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that
Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other
specific laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors.
They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in
her period of menstrual cleanliness - Lev.15:19-24. The problem is,
how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend
of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can
you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I
have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes

me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing
garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester
blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really
necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town
together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to
death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with
their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident
you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is
eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan,

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Mosaic That Shows Us The Face Of God

"A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones.  Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold.  When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone.  But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.

That is what our life in community is about.  Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world.  Nobody can say:  "I make God visible."  But others who see us together can say:  "They make God visible."   Community is where humility and glory touch."

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

CHURCH SPOTLIGHT: Emmanuel United Church (Waterloo, Ontario)

May 3, 2012

Today I had the privilege of sitting down with Rev. Dr. Bruce Sweet, minister at Emmanuel United Church in Waterloo, Ontario. We discussed the local congregation, the United Church of Canada, as well as theology and the Christian Church in general.

The Hearth Room

The Fellowship Hall
Emmanuel United Church
Sunday Services @ 10:00a.m.
22 Bridgeport Road West
Waterloo, Ontario