“When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you…”
(Luke 22:15a, The Message)
You are invited to Come to the Table; to consider together how your congregation can become enlivened through living your faith. Over the past while you, along with many congregations, have been holding your breath. You have been living in a state of anticipation as to when you could gather again, when you would feel safe enough to worship in person, when you could move around your community able to breathe freely and unafraid. The truth is there is a limit to how long we can hold our breath.
It’s time to breathe again, to be reminded of the purpose of Comox United Church, of how your congregation is called to participate in God’s dreams for creation. The Visioning Team and Comox United Council are inviting you to Come to the Table for conversations about where you go from here.
There are several ways to hear the invitation to Come to the Table. Jesus of course invited the disciples to the table for his last meal with them. He also sat at other people’s tables, learning about their lives, and speaking about living lives of faith. In the United Church it’s hard for us to gather without food on the table. Sometimes, in times of discernment and struggle, we call each other to the table, to speak our truth, face our differences, and come to agreement about the way forward. And, perhaps most importantly, the banquet table is a sign of the kingdom of God; a place where all are welcome and there is enough for everyone to be nurtured and sustained.
Debra Bowman will be leading us in these times together. Along with Phil Spencer, Wayne Hughes, and the Visioning Team of Comox United, she will help us focus on our future.
Debra will offer worship and interactive workshops with the aim of hearing from the congregation of Comox United Church about where and how God is calling the congregation to be active. Don’t worry, we don’t expect to hear the answer immediately, but through conversations together God’s way for your community of faith will become visible.
Debra has served in ordained ministry for over 25 years. She served several congregations, most recently Ryerson United Church (now Pacific Spirit United). Debra has also served as Executive Secretary of BC Conference, as President of BC Conference, and for several years on the General Council Executive. Debra leads workshops helping congregations that are wondering about their future, and regularly serves as a guest preacher.
Debra and her husband Bob live in Squamish where they are glad to be close to their two grandsons and all three of their adult sons and their partners.
*This is our best hope. Timing and topics may be influenced by Covid and what emerges as we meet.
Oct. 3 10:00-11:00
Debra will lead worship.
11:00-11:30 Lunch will be supplied safely
11:30-1:30 Debra will help us tell the story of our church. What are your first memories, and what happened after that? As we develop the timeline we will consider where we see your brightest moments, and your most difficult struggles. We will identify what principles and values that have guided you. We will see how you have lived your faith over the years, and then pause at this moment in time and ask, ‘What next”.
Oct 30 10:00-11:15 OR 12:45-2:00
Debra will be available to meet with small groups, for those who aren’t comfortable being with the larger congregation on Sunday. We will talk about the congregation’s timeline, and about steps in planning for the future.
Oct. 31 Debra will lead worship.
11:00-11:30 Lunch will be supplied safely.
11:30-1:30 Debra will help us consider the first steps in making plans for the future, for how we will live our faith.
Nov. 20 10:00-11:15 OR 12:45-2:00
Debra and our guest speaker, Rev. Jenny Carter will be available to meet with small groups, for those who aren’t comfortable being with the larger congregation on Sunday. This will be a time to talk in smaller groups about Sunday’s workshop conversation.
Nov. 21 Debra will lead worship with guest preacher Rev. Jenny Carter.
11:00-11:30 Lunch will be supplied safely.
11:30-1:30 We will consider how it is we live out our faith and what opportunities there are in the Comox Valley to both serve, and to be helped in achieving our mission. Rev. Jenny Carter and the congregation of Salmon Arm United have been engaging agencies in their town who share a commitment to creating a more just world, and their working together has transformed their congregation. Who are your neighbours and how can you work together towards fulfilling God’s dreams for creation?
Dec. 4 10:00-11:15 OR 12:45-2:00
Debra will be available to meet with small groups, for those who aren’t comfortable being with the larger congregation on Sunday. This will be a time to talk in smaller groups about Sunday’s workshop conversation.
Dec. 5 Debra will lead worship.
11:00-11:30 A festive lunch will be supplied safely.
11:30-1:30 We will talk about what ideas for living our faith have been emerging. What new thing might be waiting to be birthed? There will be fun Advent activities.
Covid means it is difficult to gather everyone together to hear from you all at once. As you see in the events above, there are opportunities to be together either after worship in a larger group, or in smaller groups that will be arranged. There may at some point be surveys sent out to request your insights. Do you have any other suggestions for how we might hear from you? Please feel free to contact any of the Visioning Team with other suggestions or with any comments or questions.
Bev Agur, Alan Brown, Joan Gillies, Cathie Talbot, Joyce Wagland, Joanne Wiens, Wayne Hughes and Debra Bowman
Visioning Team email: [email protected]
Debra Bowman: [email protected]
1. Participants will reply to health screening questions on entry.
2. Participants will not attend if they are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of a communicable disease, such as fever, chills, cough, cold, nausea, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, body aches, headaches, loss of appetite.
3. Participants will be required to show proof of full vaccination (Vaccine Passport) in order to participate.
4. Participants will wear masks at all times except when eating/drinking.
5. Participants will use hand sanitizer on entry and exit, and as appropriate.
6. Participants will maintain a distance of 6 ft/2 metres as much as possible.
7. Attendance will be taken at each gathering to enable contact tracing if necessary.
8. Visioning gatherings will continue to follow all ongoing BC Public Health Orders and the requirements of Comox United Church, and adapt this plan as needed.
9. If a participant tests positive for COVID, these steps will be taken:
a. The participant will notify the Church Administrator (250-339-3966) or the
Visioning Team ([email protected]) or
b. The Visioning Team will contact all participants at that gathering regarding the test
result (without naming the person).
c. Any participants who subsequently develop symptoms will notify the Visioning
Team ([email protected]) or the Church Administrator (250-
339-3966) and get tested.
The Visioning Team will:
• Provide hand sanitizing stations and other hand-washing/cleaning supplies.
• Ensure ventilation for meeting rooms.
• Follow these guidelines when providing food: use individually wrapped “finger-food” food
items; offer beverages in individual containers; provide hand-sanitizing options prior to
picking up food and drink.
Visioning Team members
Bev Agur, Alan Brown, Joan Gillies, Cathie Talbot, Joyce Wagland, Joanne Wiens
Staff Liaisons: Wayne Hughes and Debra Bowman