January 14, 2018

I’VE BEEN THINKING…that this idea of Re-Start is a continuous, ongoing process. At the beginning of a new year, it is normal for most of us to think that this year we’re going to change some things, do them differently: our schedule, our relationships, our finances, and more. And if we’re smart we don’t limit ourselves to starting that in early January;  Rather any week, any month will do! Continuously, ongoing, year round. Since last week’s talk about the ‘Power of Your Schedule’ I’ve been seeing more possibilities – for me, and for a lot of us.  I mentioned the man who changed his life by putting night school courses into his Monday evening schedule. That led to a 30 year Accounting career with a large corporation. And I told of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (in office 1901-1909) who had a great love for the outdoors and knowledge of nature.   This was instilled and enlarged in his youth. He had severe asthma – could not go out and play, and so spent many hours reading, and observing the natural world outside his window. He was fascinated by animals, and learned taxidermy (stuffing & preserving various species). Eventually through vigorous exercise, and natural growth he shed the asthma and became  fit and active. When he was President, he developed and expanded the national Parks system to preserve great swaths of America’s landscape and natural wonders. I believe that good result is, in part, because he did not have TV, and video games to kill time with. Instead as he spent time reading and researching about nature, his interests and knowledge grew.  I think I’ll take a lesson from this. This year, (not just in January) I’m aiming to reduce time spent in front of an electronic screen. Rather than sitting on the computer, or watching Netflix or sports, I’ll do something more productive – go for a walk, read to learn (rather than just be entertained), develop a friendship in the neighbourhood.  I hope it’s a great 2018 for us all. The Lord be with us, guiding and empowering us to become more wise, grace-filled, frugal, generous and joyful.         Orville


December 17, 2017

I’VE BEEN THINKING…After a happy adventure visiting our daughter who teaches in England, Nancy & I are realizing how blessed we are. So I’ve been considering a special year-end gift to God’s work through this church. I’m hoping that you will consider this too. Wellington Square has had an impressively good year, in so many ways. Here’s a short list of ‘celebrations’: Worship has been enhanced by our two music directors, Tim & Juanita; New people are joining at both 9 & 11a.m.  Even though we are losing the generation of faithful members who made Wellington Square strong, our attendance has remained steady. (Since  thanksgiving, about 425 on an average Sunday); The Friday Night Community is winning recognition and awards not only for the great meal, but also for it’s expanding programs of clothing, mental health training, children’s school lunches, community development and more; GraceLand was recognized in ‘The Observer’ magazine as the largest, best ‘Sunday School’ in the United Church of Canada; Our facilities are healthy and well maintained. Complete replacement and overhaul of the 52 year old furnace and heating system; Air Conditioning installed in the sanctuary; A ‘community garden’ developed on the back lawn; Mission & Outreach projects continue to evolve and expand, in so many ways, both locally, and offshore. God’s work is being done, and done well here. And I pray it will continue, without cutbacks. Because congregational givings have not kept up with the outstanding mission & ministry being done.

So I’m asking for your unique support. Someone said, “let our giving reflect the houses & cottages we own, the cars we drive, and the vacation trips we take…” Exactly. So Nancy & I (just back from our trip) are ‘in’ for an extra gift.  And last week someone came into the church office with a cheque for 4-figures; the donor has felt the importance of this faith community, and gave with a grateful heart.  I’m hoping before the end of the year, you also can consider something you might not have thought of. Each of us are at different stages of our faith life and our giving. Wherever you’re at, Thank You – for your presence here, and for your faithful support to God’s work in this place.Grace & Peace to you, and yours…With my gratitude and love –  ORV



November 26, 2017

I’VE BEEN THINKING…about milestones, and memories. There have been some significant dates passed, and lives passing. Such as?

-the Queen and Prince Phillip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this week
– Billy Graham (Christian leader & preacher) turned 99 this month
-David Mainse (founder of Christian broadcasting in Canada) died last month
-Malcom Young (founder of Australian band AC\DC), and David Cassidy(teen heartthrob from the 70’s) died this week

There are more – there are always more, in any given week\month\year – birthdays, anniversaries, deaths. Reflecting on milestones in others lives can often trigger the questions “When it’s all been said & done…What are you trying to achieve? What do you want to be remembered for?” Not many people will have their life’s work remembered and celebrated 500 years later, like Martin Luther. The German monk changed history – mostly for the better, when he triggered the Protestant Reformation back in the fall of 1517. So what about us? None of us will probably have that kind of impact, yet we will leave some kind of legacy. While thinking about this in church of course, there are clear answers that jump up – You want to leave a legacy of kindness, of love, and of bettering the world. (Thnx Captain Obvious!) I can scroll back and remember people who still shine warmly in my life today.

– Violet Bender, my grade 3 Sunday School teacher;
-Hollie Lister, the elder at my first church in N.B;
– my Dad.

They are all long gone, yet to recall them is still inspiring, and reassuring. Bob Seger sang it: “Sometimes at night I see their faces I feel the traces they’ve left on my soul, And those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul. Here’s hoping you have many more birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate, and when you have finished your course, may there be a smile on the faces, and affection and gratitude in the hearts, of all those whose lives you have touched. The Lord be with you, ORV


October 22, 2017

I’VE BEEN THINKING…about the visible & measurable change brought by the passage of time. Jesus’ church adapts and evolves with the realities around it. I’m aware of this because this Sunday I am in Dashwood, a little village near Lake Huron, between Grand Bend & Exeter. I grew up there, while my Dad was the minister, back in the 60’s.  It was a great place to be a kid – the baby-boom meant we had others to play with all the time.  But we’re all grown & gone, and the farms around town are now run by corporations, and the one industry (Dashwood Windows) moved their plant down toward London.

The world of my childhood is gone. The village has shrunk, and the church is closing at the end of this year. The old folk will drive to Exeter to go to church. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s the evolving of a society and a population group. Happens all the time. So Jesus’ team has to be smart and strategic, and know the trends and understand who they are serving, and how to respond and adapt. That’s why ENVIRONICS can really help us at Wellington Square to serve our Burlington community. ENVIRONICS is a research group who have polled and analyzed the cultural, social and economic landscape for the United Church of Canada. Burlington and W. Square were one of their prime subjects.

A small team of Wellington Square’s volunteer leaders have been living with this data & info, and preparing to share it with all of us. This Saturday morning (Oct 28th) they will share the research findings so we can discuss together what it means, and how we might adjust and adapt to serve the community in Jesus’ name. I hope you’ll be curious enough, and committed enough to come, listen & participate. The coffee & muffins will be out at 9:15a.m. Today in Dashwood we’ll tell stories, laugh & remember, and celebrate 165 years of faithful ministry in that village church. Then get ready to move on to the new reality. Here in Burlington it’s different. There is so much potential and hope for a splendid future of faithfulness in service and ministry.  If we’re willing to be smart & strategic, to listen & learn, and be guided by God’s Holy Spirit, then this faith family can continue to transform to meet spiritual needs of the community around us. The Lord be with us all. See you Saturday?   ORV