Westwood's past services 2007/ 2008

Service Archive 2007 / 2008 includes September 9, 2007 - August 31 2008.

Archives are in reverse chronological order.

Audio recordings are filed with past services.

Summer Serendipity

August 31, 2008 - Open House

Anne Barker

Do you want to learn more about Westwood Unitarian Congregation? Here's your chance. Join us for an informal and informative session which will close out the last of the Summer Serendipity Services.

August 24, 2008 - Summer Sing-Along

Sheila Killoran

Sheila Killoran will lead a sing-along of UU hymns and songs. Please come and listen or join in singing, as you desire. Request an old favourite or try something new from the hymn books. Feel free to bring musical instruments to jam along.

August 17, 2008 - Walking a Labyrinth

Allison Akgungor

Come share in this ancient meditative practice by walking in a nearby outdoor labyrinth. Wear comfortable footwear and be prepared for rain or shine. We will meet before and after at the church.

August 10, 2008 - Summer Serendipity surprise

Shall I compare thee to a summer's (Sun)day ...? Bring your own verse, or your favourite piece of poetry penned by another, or a quote for if you like, and join the discussion about the influences of words in our spiritual lives.
(if you don't have a quote or poem handy, please feel free to join us anyway!)

August 3, 2008 - Green Housing

Mel Tyree and Charleen Miles

"Green Housing" can bring us back to the Seventh Principle of Unitarian Belief. The web of life has flourished in a sustainable way for many hundreds of millions of years by using only the energy from the sun that falls on the earth. Why can't houses be sustainable like plants and depend only on the sun? A new Unitarian and new fanatic to green principles will muse about what form green housing might take in the next 50 years that is sustainable in both materials and energy. Time will be allowed for discussion.

July 27, 2008 - The Wonderful World of Honeybees

Gord Grant

Gord Grant, a former a honeybee pathologist and commercial beekeeper, who is now a backyard hobbyist, will share the world of honeybees. This interactive program promises to engage people of all ages. Come and see honeybees behind glass and find the queen. Try on a bee suit, taste some honey or chew on some comb. Understand the dilemmas humanity is having with keeping honey bees healthy, and learn about their amazingly complex and adaptable social structure.

July 20, 2008 - Dreams

Jim Lavers

Come and join Jim Lavers for information and fun discussion about the process of dreaming. This presentation is based on the work of Jeremy Taylor, a Unitarian minister and a certified psychologist, who published several books on dreaming, including "Dream Work".

July 13, 2008 - Religion, Spirituality 'N' More

Pam and Owen Brierley

Join us for a lively discussion. As a group we will explore the notions of religion and spirituality, their relationship (is there a relationship?), what the heck is transcending mystery and wonder and why does it matter? Bring your perspective; provocative questions provided.

July 6, 2008 - Lessons of Siddhartha

Kevin Fitzgerald and Anastasia Sydor

What happens when Buddhism overlaps with Universal Unitarianism? Please join us as we explore "lessons learned" from the novel Siddhartha. This novel was written 85 years ago but many of it's lessons and themes are still relevant today. We will offer some readings from this famous novel and we will facilitate a group discussion around Buddhism, Unitarianism and "lessons learned" from our own personal experiences.


June 29, 2008 - Plant Walk

Deidra Helmig and Charleen Miles

Join two plant lovers in a walk through one of Edmonton 's lovely river valley parks to explore the native plants. We will meet at Westwood at 10:30 am and car pool to the trail head.


June 22, 2008 - Flower Communion service led by Westwood's Children

Our Annual Child Led Flower Communion Service - Something of a tradition. Many members of our congregation look forward to this lively and festive service that is conceived and put on by the kids.

Please bring a flower or a few, or none if you don't have them (there will be extras provided) and come and celebrate the season, our church and each other!

Service Leaders & Speakers: Westwood's Kids & Kath Oltsher (Director, Children's Religious Education)

Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Summer Solstice Celebration - 6 pm

Celebrating Summer Solstice led by Westwood's own Youth Group

The summer solstice is the time when the sun is in its glory. This is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Come and celebrate the power of the sun with us. If the weather is good, we will be across the street from the church in the field, if not we will be in the Church itself.
Summer Solstice '08 poster

June 15, 2008 - "Pride and Prejudice"

On the day after the Gay Pride Walk, we will consider the importance of "pride" - something that is often considered to be a Sin. But then, being Gay or Lesbian has also been considered to be a Sin in some quarters. What does a challenge of those perspectives do to us/ for us on a spiritual level?

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Carl Ulrich
Musician: Joel Crichton


June 8, 2008 -
"...the moment when it seems most plain..."

a.k.a.: The Next 25 Years

Westwood is beginning a second 25 years! What do you know for sure about the first 25? What would you do differently? What has sustained you? What are you taking with you? Have mind, heart and soul participated equally?

Speaker: Rev. Jane Bramadat
Service Leader: Christine Lesiak
Musician: Steven Bell


June 1, 2008 - "Kids are Great"

This light-hearted service will explore the range of life lessons we can all learn from children. The sermon was written by Rev. Cheryl Jack, a Canadian Unitarian minister.

This Sunday is the annual pancake feast, prepared & served by Westwood's children. Everyone is welcome to stay for pancakes & fellowship.

Reader: Linda Jennings
Service Leader: Allison Akgungor
Musician: Gail Olmstead


May 25, 2008 - "Can Westwood think globally and act locally?"

A service of honouring the earth and challenging ourselves to think of ways we as a group could work together to reduce our environmental impact. Bring your ideas; big or small, serious or funny, all welcomed. Let's brainstorm. The Social Justice Committee will take the ideas generated from this service to come up with a project we can work on for the year.

Speakers & Service Leaders: Social Justice Committee members
Musicians: Harmonia led by Rebecca Patterson

May 18, 2008 - "Pieces of Sacred"

Finding something sacred or meaningful is sometimes difficult and yet sometimes the smallest thing may bring to us a sense of the sacred. Join us to share what is sacred in our lives.

Speaker & Service Leader: Kathy Lightfoot
Musician: Rebecca Patterson


May 11, 2008 - "When Rights Collide: Equality Rights vs. Freedom of Religion"

How should we respond when two fundamenta rights or freedoms collide? Most of us take our right to be UU or to attend Westwood as a given, confident that freedom of religion is a given. But does that freedom mean that Muslim women should be required to accept less on divorce under Sharia law than other Canadians receive? Does it mean the men in Bountiful are entitled to several teenaged wives? Does it mean that marriage commissioners should be able to refuse to marry gays because of their personal religious beliefs? How far should we go to protect illiberal practices which are defended as an aspect of religious freedom?

Speaker: Myra Bielby
Service Leader: Dean Chan
Musician: Gordon Thomas

Please see this presentation in our sermon archive

May 4, 2008 - "Everybody Goes to Heaven"

Universalism as a religion began a few hundred years ago in England. Its name comes from the theological concept of "universal salvation" -- that is to say, Everybody gets to heaven, no matter how they have behaved during their earthly lifetime, no matter who their parents were or where they were born or what church they attended. This was in significant contrast to some other theological positions of the day, which taught that only certain people would be "saved" and the rest would be damned for eternity. My sermon will explore some of Universalism's relevance to us now.

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Marc MacKenzie
Musician: Gail Olmstead


April 27, 2008- Cappuccino Time!

Join Fred Cappuccino, co-founder of Child Haven International and retired Unitarian Minister, for this morning's presentation.

Speaker: Fred Cappuccino
Service Leader: Leigh Bornn
Musicians: Toot Ensemble & Cherilyn Michaels

April 20, 2008 - Riding the Waves of Change

On this Sunday nearest to Earth Day, and the first day of the Jewish Passover, our service will address the theme of change and transition in our lives. Change and growth is most evident in the spring. Change is part of life for individuals, groups, nature, climate, businesses, and particularly for this congregation. Whether the changes are planned or unplanned, we are affected and must respond creatively.

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Marj Foth
Musicians: Harmonia


April 13, 2008 - sUUperheroes!

Join us for a look at Unitarian-like superheroes and superhero-like Unitarians. What makes a superhero? How can a normal, mild-mannered UU become a superhero? Come dressed as your favourite superhero, and come prepared to battle evil and make the world a better place. This is an inter-generational service.

Today's offertory was contributed to the ICUU (International Council of Unitarians and Universalists) African Leadership School.
$624 was collected at Westwood! Thanks to everyone for their support.

Please note: due to renovations in our basement, there will be no nursery for today only. The nursery & regular children's programming will resume on Sunday, April 20.

Speaker: Dean Chan
Service Leader: Deidra Helmig
Musician: Sheila Killoran

April 6, 2008 - Walking on Sacred Ground: The Gentle Art of Visiting Sacred Places

Professor Butler has studied, written and taught about connecting to nature and sacred power places around the world as an academic and ordained Buddhist monk. Travelers far too often fail to connect with the special energies of sacred sites they visit. There are rituals of passage and other preparations one needs to know and practice. This intimate talk shares tips and steps for mindful visits to sacred power places in general, including ancient ruins, sacred corners in backyards, famed pilgrimage destinations, old-growth forests and even hilltops in Wales where the Little Folk are said to dance at midnight.

Speaker: Jim Butler
Service Leader: Pamela Brierley
Musician: David Jones

March 30, 2008 - Health and Healing - Revisited

Many of us have enjoyed the breadth and depth of Mufty Mathewson's slide shows. We have been treated to different aspects of spirituality, nature, human nature, and humour. Today's show is full of hope and inspiration.

Speakers: Mufty & Wendy Mathewson
Service Leader: Elaine Roberts
Musician: Steven Bell

March 23, 2008 - "Resurrection and Renewal" Easter Service

The focus of this Easter and Equinox service will be the metaphors of resurrection and new life. What is waiting to be re-awakened in your life? What is starting to grow in your soul, or coming back to life after a time of darkness and winter?

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Lorian Kennedy
Musician: Robert Wiznura

March 16, 2008 - "The Web of Life - Our Fears and Hopes"

It is clear that the challenge of our collective lifetime will be addressing the impact of human behaviour on Earth's environment. This worship service will speak to the religious and spiritual aspects of our relationship with Earth.

It is also the "Sharing our Faith" service for 2008, a service that will be recreated with variations in churches across the country. The "sharing" part refers to sharing the content of the service and sharing our "good news stories" of the environment with other Canadian Unitarians. It also means that we offer to share some of our wealth by giving a special offering to the CUC to be distributed as "sharing our faith" grants, to congregations who apply to fund specific projects which will strengthen Unitarianism in their area.
$695.51 was collected for the CUC Sharing Our Faith Fund. Thanks everyone!

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Pamela Brierley
Musician: Beth McColl

March 9, 2008 - March 9 - PEP: People Empowering People! (Canvass Sunday)

We support each other on our unique spiritual journeys. Please join us as we explore the following questions: Has anyone from Westwood recently provided you with encouragement on your journey? Has anyone from Westwood recently inspired you to take risks that you may not have taken on your own? Have you recently helped a member or friend to find their own "voice"? How did this empower them? How did this empower you? What conditions need to be in place for this type of community to exist? Does canvass play a role in creating an environment for "people to empower people"?

Please plan to stay after the service. We will have a congregational meal and you may have an opportunity to meet individually with your assigned canvasser.

Speaker: Kevin Fitzgerald
Service Leader: Colette Orieux
Musicians: Harmonia

March 2, 2008 - Arab-Jewish Women's Peace Coalition

Our guests will speak about the coalition and what it is like to sit with, learn from, and build relationships with the so-called "enemy." They will talk about the experience of finding common group (personal and group) and the process of dialogue and compassionate listening that guided them.

Speakers: Karen Hamdon and Netta Phillet
Service Leader: Dean Wood
Musician: Gail Olmstead

February 24, 2008 - Frostiana: the poetry of Robert Frost

Robert Frost, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, frequently used themes from rural life in New England to examine complex social and philosophical ideas. Join Westwood's choir, Harmonia, as we explore through words and music the wisdom to be found in a selection of Frost's poems.

Speakers, Service Leaders & Music by Harmonia, Westwood's Choir, led by Rebecca Patterson

February 17, 2008 - fYreflys in Everyday Life

What enables some individuals to survive adversity when others don't? Resiliency studies have identified two key factors: the influence of family and the ability to dream. What does it take to help sexual minority youth move from feeling at-risk, often in homophobic and hostile environments, to becoming resilient in their schools, families, and communities? Explore how can each of us and this congregation can support youth as they move from simply trying to survive to a place where they can thrive!

Speakers: Kris Wells & Sarah Flynn from Camp fYrefly
Service Leader: Lori Hanson
Musicians: Toot Ensemble

An all ages workshop with Kris & Sarah will be held the afternoon of February 17th. A light lunch will be served after coffee time and before the workshop. The workshop will run two hours.

February 10, 2008 - Humour and Laughter in Life:
Why Things are Funny

Today's service will focus on humour and laughter. Gordon will examine various theories of humour and the functions that humour plays in life. Why are things funny? Why do we laugh? Humour, in itself, is a medium that brings people together. Whether it's a tonic, a safety valve or a social lubricant, humour has universal appeal and helps us all rediscover the essence of humanity.

Speaker: Gordon Thomas
Service Leader: Myra Bielby
Musician: Steven Bell

February 3, 2008 - On Time

Time - the one commodity that is truly non-renewable. We try to Save it, we find it passes too slowly, or too quickly, there is never the right amount of it to complete what we want to do, we can be controlled by it, we try to control it, we say Time is Money, our time-pieces are becoming ever more precise. This sermon will offer some musings on our relationship with Time.

There will be a light lunch and fellowship time following this service.

Speaker: Rev. Wendy McNiven
Service Leader: Carl Ulrich
Musician: Gail Olmstead


January 27, 2008 - Life After the God Delusion

Richard Dawkins - preeminent scientist and the world's most prominent atheist - has written the bestselling book The God Delusion. If it is true that God is a delusion, what inspires us to be moral and caring human beings? Where and what is our ground of being, our source of reason and reverence, our spiritual relationship to life?

Speaker: Reinie Heydemann
Service Leader: Anastasia Sydor
Musicians: Harmonia

January 20, 2008 - Opportunity Within Crisis: A Beekeeper's Story

This is a story about Gord Grant's relationship with honey bees. Or perhaps it is more about the part of it which defines his struggle to become fully human. As he progressed from a hobby beekeeper, to running a 1500-hive honey production business, and then back again to an amateur (in the truest sense of its meaning), he encountered several crises. At the time, these crises were simply disasters - unforeseen events that lay ruin to the fabric of his life; inconvenient forces that were driving him to change when he was adamant not to.
This is a story about Gord's ongoing discovery about the choices he has each day, and his struggle to take responsibility for and create a continuity within his thoughts, his words, and his actions.

Speaker: Gord Grant
Service Leader: Kevin Fitzgerald
Musician: Steven Bell

January 13, 2008 - Angel Unaware and Radical Hospitality

We never know when the right word or smile will make all the difference to someone else.
Let's think about the theology of radical hospitality. Speaker Rev. Katie Stein Sather was a member of Westwood from 1988 to 1997, when we (meaning Westwood) ordained her as she started ministry in St. John's, Newfoundland. A workshop will be held after the service. Plan to join in for the day on this topic of interest.

Speaker: Reverend Katie Stein Sather
Service Leader: Sara McEwan
Musician: Rebecca Patterson

Link to poster

January 6, 2008 - New Year's Resolutions: Bah Humbug

Are New Years Resolutions really a humbug, doomed to failure from the start? Join Christine and Mitch for this annual contemplative service as we look back at the year gone by and forward to the year ahead. It's the 10th annual edition, so there will be some special treats during this service, as well as the traditional blazing fire and tying things up, of course. See you there!

Speaker: Mitch Waldon
Service Leader: Christine Lesiak
Musician: Gail Olmstead


December 30, 2007 - Winter Serendipity - Potluck Worship

This service will borrow a tradition that is reported as a favourite in other small UU congregations. It is a potluck approach to worship, where each person who attends brings a favourite poem, reading, story, song, music, etc. to be shared. The service will develop from the offerings that are presented and we shall shape a meaningful service to welcome in the New Year. Think about what the "New Year" and "Winter Serendipity" means to you and how best to share that.

Service Organizers : Linnie Chamberlin & Deidra Helmig
Presenters : All in attendance!!

December 23, 2007 - "Pancake Breakfast"

Come join other Westwoodians for pancakes cooked by Marc MacKenzie. It's a chance to kick back at this busy time of year, and enjoy a relaxed hour of coffee and conversation - and pancakes. Bring the family!

Service Leader: Marc MacKenzie
Musicians: Various

Friday, December 21, 2007 - Westwood's Winter Solstice Celebrations

The longest night of the year is a sacred evening celebrated throughout the world. Join us for one of Westwood's most popular celebrations. During our Winter Solstice celebration we will embrace the darkness and look to the coming light. The celebrations will followed by hot apple cider and homemade baking.

There will be three evening services:
7 pm Family service (with child care)
9 pm Reflective Adult service, and
11 pm adult service.

7 pm service - Service leaders: Pamela Brierley and Cherilyn Michaels
Music: Westwood's choir, Harmonia, Westwood's Children's Choir, and Gordon Ritchie on celtic harp

9 pm service - Service leaders: Deidra Helmig and Dean Chan
Music - Harmonia, and Gordon Ritchie on celtic harp

11 pm service - Service leaders: Linda Jennings and Ros McCue;
Music - Sarah Sasges on Celtic Harp

December 16, 2007 - Children's Winter Service

Please join us for our annual child led Winter Service on Dec. 16th! We can guarantee laughter, story and song in this service with a twist! Come and find out more about this popular offering and the premiere of what we hope will become a new Westwood Tradition of welcoming children and youth who are new to our church.

Service Leaders, Presenters & Musicians: Westwood Kids and Youth

December 9, 2007 - A Dickensian Christmas

Because of happy childhood memories, Rev. Brian Kiely is still a fan of the Nativity Story. Alongside that he has a very long affection for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". In fact he thinks it can stand as a seasonal scripture for Unitarians. At this service he will look at Dickens and the story and even show a few clips from the Alastair Sim version.

Speaker: Reverend Brian Kiely, minister at The Unitarian Church of Edmonton and recently elected President of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Service Leader: Allison Akgungor
Musicians: Toot Ensemble & Cherilyn Michaels

December 2, 2007 - Alternative Strategies for Afghanistan: The Dialogue We've Never Had

Canada's mission in Afghanistan has divided our country and, clearly, Canadians are conflicted. Roughly 50 percent of those polled support our current military role, the other 50 percent calls for either immediate withdrawal or an end to the mission no later than February 2009. Do we have other options? Are there alternative approaches and strategies that Canada can pursue that would be more constructive - and more reflective of Canadian values? A discussion of viable alternatives is long overdue.

Read Patti's presentation

Speaker: Patricia Hartnagel
Service Leaders: Linda Axley and Linnie Chamberlin
Musicians: Harmonia

November 25, 2007 - The Value of Money

Exploring the role money plays in our lives and how our personal values affect how we understand and use money.

Speaker: Kathy Lightfoot
Service Leader: Dave Shook
Musician: Sheila Killoran

November 18, 2007 - Community Policing

Chris Braiden who was formerly the Superintendent of Police with the Edmonton Police Service, finished his career by designing and implementing Community Based Policing in Edmonton. Changing the mindset of the police in its relationship to the community has been a strong focus of Chris's efforts as he has continued his work as an international police consultant.

Speaker: Chris Braiden
Service Leader: Carl Ulrich
Musicians: Harmonia & Steven Bell

November 11, 2007 - The Music of Pete Seeger

As our country is currently engaged in a war in Afghanistan and as the turmoil that is Iraq continues to plague our southern neighbour, we would do well to reflect on our own relationship with war/peace and peacemakers. Today's service reflects on one who has spent his life working for peace, the environment, civil rights, and the dignity of all peoples: Pete Seeger. The service will focus particularly on Seeger's committment to peace. Be prepared to sing.

Speaker: Robert Wiznura
Service Leader: Virginia Gillese
Musician: Robert Wiznura

November 4, 2007 - Credo Sunday

What do you believe? How does that fit with the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism? Some have said you can be a UU and not believe in anything. Two members of Westwood, one younger, one older, will dispel the myths, and show some of the many paths taken on our spiritual journey.

Speakers: Kyle Waldon & Linnie Chamberlin
Service Leader: Christine Lesiak
Musician: Gail Olmstead

October 28, 2007 - Jack's Legacy

Jack Allen, a long time Unitarian, teacher and social activist was one of the people who helped create Westwood in 1982. We were saddened by his death this summer. His influence will endure. At this service there will be an opportunity to share what legacy Jack left us, what we learned from him and what we might want to keep alive as a congregation.

Speaker: Social Justice Committee
Service Leader: Lindsay McWhirter
Musician: Jacqueline Willette

October 21, 2007 - What Good Are the Seven Principles?

The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism seem quite nice when we're discussing them over tea and biscuits, but how relevant are they when we run into trouble? Do the Seven Principles help us or hinder us in crisis? Is it time to revamp the Seven Principles or do we have to look deeper into their meaning?

Speaker: Dean Chan
Service Leader: Marc MacKenzie

October 14, 2007 - Pessimism of the Intellect; Optimism of the Will

As one takes stock of the way world affairs have developed in recent years, a strictly intellectual reckoning cannot avoid coming up with pessimism about our future; yet it is impossible to live effectively and productively under the shadow of such an outlook. We are not the first generation to wrestle with such a situation, and we can gather strength for our own living by taking a look at the way in which others both in the past and the present have responded to this dilemma.
As part of our 25th Anniversary Year activities, we are honoured to have Rev. Phillip Hewett join us for this Sunday Service.

Speaker: Rev. Phillip Hewett
Service Leader: Kevin Fitzgerald
Musicians: Westwood's choir, Harmonia, under the direction of Jacqueline Willette

October 7, 2007 - Making Political Decisions: What is Best?

Edmonton City Councillor Michael Phair will be discussing how reviewing information, looking at reports, hearing from citizens, reading media commentary, and his own personal values and beliefs all influence his decision-making process, whether it is homelessness and housing, environment, or urban design.

Councillor Phair is willing to answer questions after the service, including questions about housing, homelessness, environment, urban design, and other matters in the civic context.

Speaker: Councillor Michael Phair
Service Leader: Collette Orieux
Musician: Steven Bell

September 30, 2007 - Climate Change - No Time to Waste

Is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change too pessimistic or too optimistic? What did they not consider in developing their latest consensus position? What is dangerous anthropogenic climate change and what are the prospects of avoiding it? How does the issue relate to UU principles?

Service Leader: Christine Watts
Speaker: Bill Woolverton
Musicians: Westwood's Choir - Harmonia - lead by Jacqueline Willette

September 23, 2007 - You Can Take the Girl Out of the Fundamentalism

Like many of us, I wasn't born into Unitarianism; I came to it as an adult. My early life was steeped in Christian Fundamentalism. This early experience has influenced me in many ways both good and bad and perhaps even flavoured my personal brand of Unitarianism. This is a brief history of my life and a public reflection on my personal spiritual journey.

Speaker: Pam Brierley
Service Leader: Doug Ridgway
Musician: Gail Olmstead

September 16, 2007 - Of Socks and Strawberries and Cabbages and Kings: a look at homelessness

The issue of homelessness has many facets and causes and no one singular solution.
This service looks at how homelessness has changed and offers a look at our personal views and also the larger context.

Contributions of new socks, for men or women, are welcomed at this service.

Speaker: Jakalin MacGregor
Service Leaders: Keith & Gillian Wiley
Musician: William Butler

September 9, 2007 - Ingathering - Welcome Home

We gather and celebrate together after a summer apart part. We share what summer experiences have meant to us and reflect on our hopes for the year ahead. Bring mementos from your summer experiences and water to share in our water communion ceremony. As part of this service, we welcome and install our new Board of Trustees.

Service Leaders: Westwood's Board of Trustees
Musicians: Westwood's Choir - Harmonia - lead by Jacqueline Willette