The Song of the Lilies

Do you ever get a song or a phrase stuck in your head? Sometimes you do not even know where it has come from: it just keeps rolling around, demanding to be heard.  For the past few days, the phrase “Earth sings in flowers” has become almost deafening.

Perhaps it is the photograph I took of the lilies in my garden when I returned from worship last Sunday:  Or the dawn breaking song of the cardinals, blue jays and almost adult crows who come early to the feeder outside the bedroom window.

It called to mind “A Song of Faith”, adopted in 2006, which seeks to provide a verbal picture of what The United Church of Canada understands its faith to be in the historical, political, social, and theological context of the early 21st century.  It is a seven-page document of exceptional poetic writing and I share hereunder the words:

We sing of a church seeking to continue the story of Jesus by embodying Christ’s presence in the world.

We are called together by Christ as a community of broken but hopeful believers, loving what he loved, living what he taught, striving to be faithful servants of God in our time and place.

Our ancestors in faith bequeath to us experiences of their faithful living; upon their lives our lives are built.

Our living of the gospel makes us a part of this communion of saints, experiencing the fulfillment of God’s reign even as we actively anticipate a new heaven and a new earth.

Beautiful and inspiring words from a beautiful and inspiring document which I believe we need to revisit from time to time.  Perhaps we’ll do that together over the coming months.

The words which I have been hearing remind me that God’s beauty is all around us and, like the story of Mary and Martha we will be reading this week, we need to take the time to relax and to listen to what Creator may be trying to teach us.


“Grateful for God’s loving action, we cannot keep from singing” so I hope you, too, enjoy the song of the lilies.


Some food resources in Verdun

Because hard times come to us all, and we all need to eat, here are some contacts to keep close at hand:

Food to take home:

  • MANNA, located in the basement of Dawson Boys and Girls Club (666 Woodland ave.), is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 to 12, except the first week of the month. 514-761-4394.

  • Société St-Vincent -de-Paul has emergency food help by appointment. Call 514-768-2093.

  • REV (réseau d’entraide de Verdun) For $7 you can go on Monday afternoons, 3-5pm and fill a basket. They have fresh food as well as non-perishables. They even have meat to give, but you must bring your own freezer pack. Individual frozen meals are also available every day at REV between 10am and 3pm, for a $1 contribution. 4350 Ruelle Quinn, Verdun H4G 1L9. (514) 762-0705.

  • Mini-market is at Dawson Boys and Girls Club every Tuesday from 12:30 to 5PM. 666 Woodland ave.


  • Dawson Boys and Girls Club offers a community lunch every Tuesday at 12:30. pay what you can.

  • Projet PAL also has a community lunch Tuesdays at noon. More info: 514-767-4701.

  • Epiphany church is offering their Thursday lunch on the fourth week of the month this summer: July 25th and August 22nd. $2 donation.

Community Celebration in Cowansville

For anyone living - or summering - in the Eastern Townships (Estrie), consider dropping in on this casual family celebration with Rev. David at Emmanuel United, this Sunday, or in August.

On the third Sunday of July (the 21st) and of August (the 18th) a new initiative will happen at Emmanuel at 12 noon. Susan Reininger and Rev. David are hoping to welcome our children, youth and their families to a community celebration outside the church on the lawn. Bring a bag lunch. There will be a musical moment that hears some of the camp songs our youth learned in June. We want to hear their experience and create a gathering for them and their friends who may not attend church. Pray for this initiative.
Join us outside for fun, food - a circle of celebration, a circle of joy!

(from Emmanuel news, Vol. 2, issue 27)

Take Care, It's Another Heat Wave!

It’s hot and it’s humid out there folks. Even if you’re one of those who can’t get enough of the hot weather, it can be dangerous. Here’s some practical advice:

1) Drink lots of water. 6 to 8 glasses a day is recommended. Some of it can be juice or lemonade as long as you’re not watching your sugar intake. Go easy on iced tea and coffee because of the caffeine. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already starting to be dehydrated.

2) Try to spend at least 2 hours a day in a cool place. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, do you have a friend who does? Get yourself invited over, say you’ll bring the lemonade! If not, try to get to a shopping centre, or take yourself to the movies! It’s best not to spend a lot of time waiting out in the sun for the bus, though. See if you can get someone to drive you.

3) Take at least one shower a day. A cool wet facecloth on the back of the neck can help cool you down between showers.

4) Reduce your physical efforts. You run every day? Good for you. Just don’t do it outside during a heat wave!

5) Wear light, non-restrictive clothing and,

6) this one hurts: avoid alcohol.

7) Contact family and friends, especially those with less autonomy or living alone, and make sure they’re okay. I would add:

8) if you have a pool, invite friends and neighbours over to use it!

Download this pamphlet from the government of Quebec:

A Heat Wave Prayer:

God of creation,
may the glistening beads of sweat upon our brow, remind us of our baptismal promises;
may the slowing of our paces and practices,
remind us of the sacredness of each moment;
and may the sweltering waves of heated air,
remind us of your Spirit which moves amongst us.
Keep safe those who work and those who play this day, as we tend to our neighbours in need.
(from the Diocese of Niagara, 2013)

SouthWest Stories: Pastor Beryl

As you may know, our new pastor, Beryl Barraclough, is a Crawford Park Kid. The house she grew up in is just a couple of blocks from SouthWest United. But it was the Anglican church around the corner that she was sent to as a child, and attended for much of her adulthood.

“My mother wanted to sleep in on Sundays,” Beryl told me with a laugh, “so we were sent to Sunday School! All the kids went in those days. Every family had 3 or 4 kids, so the Sunday schools were packed.”

I’ve had the opportunity this past week to chat with Beryl, both in person and via e-mail, and ask questions about her faith journey.  Here are some excerpts.

Amy: You've said you now realize God was calling you your whole life, but you either didn't have words to understand this call, or were afraid to answer it. You answered this call in your sixties; at a time when most people are looking to retire, you started a whole new vocation.

Beryl: I believe Creator has been with me from my earliest memories.  However, being unwillingly deposited in Sunday School at the age of five brought a keener awareness of God’s presence. 

It was about that time I began searching for God on church rooftops, under pews and even in the tree tops as I wandered the back lanes of Crawford Park.  As a young child, I did not possess the language or wording required to describe this need to be close to God (or whatever it was which seemed to be calling me).  Sunday School provided me with the images and the naming of that presence.

My experience with the Holy has been tumultuous.  As a child of the 60’s and 70’s, there were times I lost faith, especially when the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were murdered, innocent students were shot at and killed at Kent State University, and, of course, the war in Vietnam.  These events, coupled with the poor choices I made in my own personal life, provided ample excuses and opportunities to ignore God’s constant urgings over the years.

When I retired from my job at Concordia in 2013, at the age of 67, it became obvious that all personal hurdles had been cleared and I had no more excuses to give.  It was time, finally, to say yes to the calling.  It seems that God is patient and willing to wait until you have no where else to run to.

Amy: How and when did you first come to SouthWest?

 Beryl: After spending some 50+ years in the Anglican Church, in 2005 I snuck into the back pews of the then Crawford Park United Church, hoping no one would notice me, and the rest is history.  I came for several reasons but, most important, I wanted to sing with its choir!

 I would be remiss if I said the transition was easy.  Ritual had been a big part of worship at the Anglican Church and I missed reciting the Creed and having Communion every Sunday. 

In retrospect, it was liturgical ritual which, to some degree, had stifled my spiritual creativity.  The United Church, and the congregation at SouthWest, in particular, provided the opportunity I so needed to explore my spirituality and, unknowingly gave me the permission I so desired to finally start my journey.


Amy: Can you describe the training and professional development that got you to where you are now?

Beryl: Sometime in late 2006, Rev. David asked me if I would be interested in the Licensed Lay Leadership Development Program.  This was a two-year process, spread out over weekend retreats, where those interested in leading worship in their own communities (and as pulpit supply for other United Churches) would receive adequate training to enable them to lead worship, provide pastoral care and preside over funerals.  Upon completion of the program, I was recognized as a Licensed Lay Worship Leader in 2008.


In 2012, I felt it was time to move forward.  I approached SWU and asked for the discernment process.  This was a year long journey of meetings and specific UCC approved questioning by an appointed team – an Ordained minster and three members of my own congregation.

 Upon their recommendation of my qualifications as a candidate for ministry, I was required to choose from three streams: Ordained ministry, Diaconal ministry or the Designated Lay Ministry program. For financial reasons and because of home obligations, I chose DLM.

DLM is paid, accountable ministry, under specific conditions and approved by the United Church.  With a supporting member of SWU – Linda Dixon - we attended a two day “evaluation” process with the then Montreal/Ottawa conference where I received approval to go forward.

 In January, 2013, I made my first journey to the Christian Learning Center (CLC) in Fort Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan for a ten-day intensive learning circle (9:00 am to 9:00 pm with two hours off for lunch, including Saturdays).

All learning circles are preceded by a two-and-a-half-month period of required readings and on-line submissions of assignments.  Post-circle on-line submissions are a part of the self-evaluation process.

This process would continue twice a year (June and January) over a three-year period. In January 2014, after the closing of the CLC in Calling Lake, the program moved to St. Andrew’s College on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan.  It was from there I graduated in October 2016.

 I should mention that since 1980, I have been an independent student at Concordia University and, as of 2017, I have acquired 24 credits in both Religion and Theology.  In retrospect, I guess God let me do it my way.

 To-date, I have been privileged to serve Lacolle/Clarenceville and Hemmingford pastoral charges from 2013-2016 (two services every Sunday) and, from 2016-2019, Kanesatake United Church in Oka.


Amy: Would you like to share a high point, or a low point, in your ministry so far?

 Beryl: The best part of ministry, for me, is the opportunity to walk with people and share whatever part of their life journey they may be on.  I love visiting with those who are unable to join us for Sunday worship.  In fact, I have a routine for home visits: the PTP (portable tea party).  I bring everything but the milk (but will bring that too if required).  Tea and biscuits is a great way to spend time in a relaxed and familiar setting, sharing and listening to someone’s personal story and journey. Tea time is good time!



Many people are or have been part of the SouthWest story over the years, whether in ministry, or music, volunteering on committees, or simply attending services. Sarah Fraser suggested it would be interesting to get to know some of them better through interviews. I agreed, so from time to time, I don’t know how often, this newsletter will introduce SouthWest people you may not know very well, or thought you did! Amy


Summer is in the Air!

Have you noticed, as you walk around your neighbourhood on a beautiful summer day, or any public place for that matter, you can smell the aroma of food cooking on the grill?  For me, it brings back cherished memories of family cookouts in the backyard.

Food is a powerful expression of welcome and friendship in every culture and sharing food and drink, welcoming and eating with those who were on the outskirts of society was a big part of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was all about food.

In Jesus’ time, the people of Israel were expecting a Messiah to come with a big bang, defeating God’s enemies and vindicating God’s people.  Instead, they got, what they thought, was only a man who shared meals. 

However, not only did he share meals, he provided for them.  He changed water into wine at a wedding in Cana.  He changed a few fish and a few loaves into a meal for more than 5,000.  He grilled and served fish at the lakeshore to his grieving disciples. And, something else: Jesus never forgot to bless and thank God for all that was received.

Jesus’ sharing of food is significant: it embodies Creator God’s grace and enacts God’s mission of justice and equality where all are welcome at the table.

The sharing of food is central to the mission of Jesus and remains so today.  When we share food, we do so as friends: we sit at the same level around the same table and we eat as family.

Food too reminds us of our dependence on others: we are tied into a network of farmers, truck drivers, traders, shopkeepers, cooks and, most importantly it reminds us that we are dependent on Creator God to sustain us.

May your summer be filled with the aroma of neighbourhood BBQ’s and your life embody Jesus’ vision of sharing and caring for all!


Dawson Mini-market July 16

Mini-markets continue on Tuesdays through the summer at Dawson Boys and Girls Club, 666 Woodland Ave. Good deals on produce, delivered with a smile!

PRODUCE                       LBS.           KGS.         EACH

CAULIFLOWER                                                      2.84

ENGLISH CUCUMBER                                           .85

GREEN BEANS                2.04           4.49

RED ONIONS                   1.16            2.55

GREEN PEPPERS            2.43           5.37

ICEBERG LETTUCE                                               1.29

WHITE MUSHROOMS   2.84           6.26

TOMATOES, HYDRO       1.38           3.05

RED MED GRAPES           1.67           3.69

APPLES, CORTLAND       1.10          2.43

BANANAS, TURBANA       .77           1.71

CLEMENTINES                                                       .28

PLUMS                                                                   TBA

Les Églises Unies de la région participerons au défilé de fierté

Vous êtes intéressé à marcher dans le défilé avec d’autres monde de l’église unie? Contactez le bureau de SouthWest au 514-768-6231.


Chers ami-e-s et paroisses du Conseil régional Nakonha:ka Dimanche, le 18 août, aura lieu le défilé de la fierté au centre-ville de Montréal. Nous lançons l’invitation, à vous et à votre communauté ecclésiale, de marcher ensemble en tant qu'Église Unie et conseil régional. Notre petit comité organisateur souhaite aider les personnes de tous âges, afin que tant les individus que les groupes puissent participer à cet événement festif axé sur la quête de justice! Le défilé débute à 14 h 30. Pas de souci si vous êtes au culte le matin… nous vous attendrons et garderons de la place pour vous. Le parcours du défilé est de 3 km. Nous sommes disponibles pour aider les personnes âgées ou les personnes ayant des enfants en bas âge pour que l'événement soit agréable. Une occasion conviviale vous est proposée : nous invitons les personnes intéressées à une journée de fabrication de bannières la semaine précédente. Nous apporterons des fournitures pour la fabrication d’affiche… vous apportez vos idées arc-en-ciel. Comment participer : • laissez-nous savoir que vous souhaitez participer au défilé • portez des vêtements d'été avec des chaussures de marche confortables • apportez une bouteille d'eau, de l’écran solaire et un chapeau • nous nous regrouperons à un endroit convenu (à déterminer) Pour l’instant, nous avons des membres de l’Église Unie Trinity et de l’Église Unie St. James (Montréal) et de l’Église Unie Drummondville (Sherbrooke) qui marcheront ensemble. Vous trouverez ci-dessous une liste de raisons de participer au défilé. Veuillez nous contacter pour vous impliquer, ou pour toute question. Nous sommes heureux d’aider et, espérons-le, de faire de cet événement un événement annuel pour notre région.

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United Churches to March in Montreal Pride Parade

Below is an invitation to march in the 2019 Pride Parade with other churches from our region. Interested? Contact the SouthWest office, 514-768-6231.


Dear Friends and United Churches of the Conseil régional Nakonha:ka Regional Council, On Sunday, August 18th, The Montréal Pride Parade is being held in downtown Montreal. We are reaching out to invite you and your church community to walk together as a United Church & Regional Council. Our small organizing group is offering to help people of all ages, so that individuals and groups can be part of this fun and justice-seeking event! The Parade starts at 2:30pm. No need to worry if you are at church in the morning: we will wait for you and hold our place in line. The parade route is 3km. We are happy to help seniors or people with small children, to make the event enjoyable.

As a fellowship opportunity, we invite those interested to a banner-making day the week before. We’ll bring poster making supplies… you bring your rainbow ideas.

How to get involved:

 let us know you want to be in the parade
 dress for summer with comfortable walking shoes
 bring a water bottle, sun screen and a hat
 meet us at the determined location (tbd)

Facebook Group: