Upcoming Events with Michael Morwood

A New Template for Progressive Religion

Date: June 7, 7 pm – 8:30 pm
Cost: A donation of $10 is suggested – but come regardless.
Location: Canadian Memorial Church, Centre for Peace 1806 W 15th & Burrard St. Vancouver.

Three important questions in adult faith formation are: What are you asking me to imagine?  From where did this imagination (as a picture of reality) arise?  How does this imagination resonate with what we know today about our universe, the age of planet earth, and how life developed here?

It is not surprising that institutional religion, especially in its Christian, Jewish and Islamic formats, is facing its greatest crisis ever when such questions are brought to focus on what we have believed, whether we continue to believe it or not, and what we now believe.  The challenge for Christians is to re-imagine, in the light of contemporary knowledge, foundational faith topics such as “God”, revelation, salvation, Jesus, “the Christ”, worship, priesthood and prayer. This presentation will focus on these Christian perspectives, but will have relevance for Judaism and Islam as well. “What are you asking me to imagine? From where did this imagination (as a picture of reality) arise? How does this imagination resonate with what we know today about our universe, the age of planet earth, and how life developed here?” – and explore how contemporary evolutionary knowledge changes how we understand and articulate our faith.

This re-imagining may lead us to discard what were once thought to be essential aspects of Christian faith. However, while doing that, it also has the potential to articulate faith that resonates better with reality, and, of great importance, to make Jesus and his message more relevant to the world in which we find ourselves today.

A collaboration between Canadian Memorial United Church, St. Andrews Wesley United Church, and Programs in Earth Literacies.

Register now!

Re-envisioning the Second Half of Life with Maria and Michael Morwood

Date: June 8 & 9, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost: $115.00 Please bring lunch, refreshments are provided.
Location:  Canadian Memorial Church, Centre for Peace, 16th & Burrard St. Vancouver

Does your faith-life resonate with your inner wisdom and personal insights?

This retreat is an invitation to people in the second half of life to explore the source of their faith in the context of their lived experience. It is based on the conviction that people can avoid merely age-ing and choose instead to cultivate wisdom (sage-ing) by consciously choosing how they want to live their later years. The retreat focuses on the link between inner wisdom and a contemporary evolutionary Christian spirituality. It offers a range of reflective and interactive processes and tools that will enable participants to consider their unique journey of life.

As we contemplate the reality of the Divine and the processes at work in the universe bursting into clear moments of experience and insight in our lives, we might consider these thoughts from Thomas Berry:

We are out of touch with the energy “deep in the very structure of reality”.
We need “to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human”.

This retreat will focus on the links between this energy, our inner wisdom, and a contemporary Christian spirituality grounded in the belief that the Divine “pervades, permeates and embraces all that exists” (Gregory of Nyssa).

Recommended Reading:
Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller, From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision for Growing Older. Warner Books, 1995
Morwood, Michael. Faith, Hope and a Bird Called George. A Spiritual Fable. Twenty Third Publications, 2011

A collaboration between Canadian Memorial United Church, St. Andrews Wesley United Church, and Programs in Earth Literacies.

Please do not let cost deter you. Ask us about our scholarship fund.

Register now!

Faith Commuter Challenge

Faith Commuter Challenge – Sunday, June 4 

This Spring, CMUC will join hundreds of faith communities in a nationwide Commuter Challenge. Between June 2-11, people of all faiths across the country will be reducing the ecological footprint of their commute to worship.

At Canadian Memorial we invite you to participate on Sunday, June 4th by travelling to church on foot, by bike, or by public transit and carpooling. We will have a bike repair station, a place to log your trip to win prizes, and more.
Interested in helping bring this event to life? Email Christine.

Interested in participating? Mark the date in your calendar and stay tuned for more info.

More Info:


The 2017 Faith Commuter Challenge is:

  • A week-long event that coincides with the National Environment & Commuter Challenge weeks (June 2-11)
  • A friendly competition between Canadian places of faith
  • A celebration of active and sustainable transportation
  • An fun and easy way to try different modes of how to get to worship
  • Nationally hosted by Faith & the Common Good, through local partners

How it works:

  • Register your faith community and yourself to participate in the challenge week. Encourage others to join. Click here for detailed registration instructions.
  • Between June 2-11, choose a day to leave your car behind when you travel to worship. Rideshare, take public transit, carpool, bike, or walk. Do whatever moves you!
  • On that day, log in to track your trip to worship via the Commuter Challenge website. See your GHG emission reduction, calorie consumption, distance, and fuel cost savings.
  • Check out which faith communities and cities have the highest percentage of healthy travelers.
  • Join with faith communities across the country to acknowledge and celebrate with certificates, prizes, and fun events!

Suggestions for Getting Started:

  • Talk to your faith community about joining the challenge (June 2-11, 2017) to demonstrate your care for creation.
  • Choose a Champion or Team who will plan and coordinate your event(s). These events may include:
    • Carpooling, launching a ride-share program in your faith community, or riding the bus together
    • Hosting a bicycle tune-up station, distributing bike maps
    • A special blessing ceremony, prayers, or acknowledgement of all the ways people are working to reduce their carbon footprint
    • A neighbourhood bike ride before or after a worship service
    • Bicycle decorating for the young and young-at-heart
  • Go to faith.commuterchallenge.ca to register your faith community to take part.
  • Once your faith community is registered, register yourself so that you can track your participation and assist others.
  • Promote the event in your community — newsletter, website, service bulletins.

If you also want to track your workplace trips during the week of June 4-10, visit commuterchallenge.ca.

climate changeBenefits of active and sustainable transportation:

  • Reduce the threat of climate change — Did you know that it takes 130 trees to produce the amount of oxygen needed to combat the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from one car each year?
  • Connect with others — Active transport and ride sharing fosters new friendships, helps others, and increases networking.
  • Reduce traffic congestion — Reducing the number of individual car trips means we will have less traffic congestion and less demand for roads. This will improve travel times and reduce fuel consumption.
  • Enjoy better health — Introduce calorie-burning exercise time by biking or walking to a public transportation or carpool stop.
  • Reduce air pollution — Pollutants from many transportation sources aggravate respiratory disease and contribute to property damage and acid rain.

Transformational Storytelling

You asked, and it’s happening! Beloved storyteller, author and performer David Roche is returning to Canadian Memorial, alongside his talented wife Marlena Blavin, to lead a Storytelling workshop after worship.

Sunday May 7th, 12:15-2:15, in the CMUC Sanctuary.
Lunch provided. RSVP to christine@canadianmemorial.org.

Transformational Storytelling

Stories have the power to transform both the teller and the listeners. This workshop provides the most safe and encouraging environment you will ever encounter to learn and practice telling stories. Our teaching is not didactic but interactive and experiential; you learn from modeling, from your practice, from listening to others’ stories, from the positive feedback of the group and from coaching (which is tailored to your expressed needs and desires).

You may want to deal with fear of public speaking. You may want to develop advocacy or other presentation skills—all levels and interests are welcomed. No need to prepare in advance. Emphasis is on personal stories—stories that compel and transform.

Sunday May 7th, 12:15-2:15, in the CMUC Sanctuary.
Lunch provided.
RSVP to christine@canadianmemorial.org.

Spiritual Revolution with Chris Ferguson

Canadian Memorial is hosting an event series exploring the places where spirituality, family, art and justice meet, through the stories of those living it. Join us.

Rev Chris Ferguson

Global Ecumenical Leader,
Minister and Activist

Sunday, May 7th
At Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace
15th and Burrard, Vancouver

All are welcome. Childcare provided.

Rev Chris Ferguson is the second general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), and an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. Chris has worked directing global justice efforts through the United Church’s national office and the World Council of Churches. He has also served as oversees personnel, providing leadership in global ecumenical advocacy and public witness for peace, justice, ecological justice and human rights. Plus he’s met the Pope twice. Chris is in town receiving an honourary doctorate from the Vancouver School of Theology. Read this interview with Chris from the United Church Observer:

Interview issue: Chris Ferguson

Global ambassador for the United Church

By Luc Rinaldi, November 2014

Rev. Chris Ferguson, 61, has represented The United Church of Canada and the World Council of Churches in Latin America and the Middle East, as well as to the United Nations. He is now general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Hannover, Germany. He recently talked to Luc Rinaldi.

I believe that life is contagious.

When I was very young, I lived in a little town in the most southern part of the mainland of British Columbia called White Rock. At the bottom of my street, there was a very small First Nations reserve and a playground. Some kids challenged us as to why we were playing in their cemetery, and we challenged them back, asking what their cemetery was doing in our playground. I took this to my mom, who said, “They’re right, you know.”

My father was a war amputee. He was a soldier. He lost his leg. My whole image of being a father, being a man, being a human being, was this figure of someone with one leg. He was who he was, and violence took something away from him. Something about being a child of a war amputee led me to be more at ease about brokenness.

When I was 15, my mother encouraged me to work with the United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I ended up dealing with kids who came from tough circumstances and family situations. It was clear to me I knew nothing about that world. From that point on, I flung myself totally into the notion that if the church isn’t dealing with the people who are the most marginalized, poor, kicked-around, hurt and battered, it doesn’t make much sense.

It was a fascinating time to grow up and be alive. I graduated from university in 1971, and there was nothing that you couldn’t do. A lot of people thought I would be a community worker, a counsellor or a people’s lawyer, because I was really into advocacy, community organizing and counselling.

When I was ordained, there was a controversy. People saw me as too “out there” around social justice and prophetic ministry. A lot of people weren’t sure that I should be ordained and, if I was, that I’d stick around long.

Ministry is not restricted to the parish. By the time I’m done, I would hope to have served in a local ministry, community-based ministry and university chaplaincy and had a chance to work internationally. I’m not contemplating multiple careers. This is all part of the same ministry.

I am profoundly angry about what’s going on in Gaza. I’m also profoundly sad, and my heart is broken by the great amount of pain and suffering on all sides. But the coming together of churches [to produce] the Kairos Palestine document fills me with a profound sense of hope. And it’s not a cheap optimism.

Hope is what allows you to say that the future is still open, that the forces of death and destruction do not have the last word. God has not closed the chapter. God has worked so that history remains the place where our contributions can make a difference. The mighty will only have the last word if we cede it to them.

During the years I was at the United Nations, I worked on a text from Isaiah 59 that gave me a lot of inspiration. It talks about a horrible situation where there is no justice and truth suffers and stumbles, and anyone who tries to stand up for truth and justice is attacked and belittled. When God saw this injustice, God was angry and disappointed. But when God saw no human intervening to set things right, God was appalled. It made God sick. God couldn’t understand why no one was doing their job, why they were remaining silent. We were at the United Nations; God will not be appalled.

Iranian President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad came to New York, and everybody refused to engage him. It was during a very tense period in the relationship between the United States and Iran. When he reached the General Assembly, most groups walked out. So the churches — my office, the Mennonites and the Quakers — said, “If no one else will talk to you, we will.” Everybody hated that. But it was a fundamental commitment to truth and dialogue.

Part of the transformation I seek [for the World Communion of Reformed Churches] — and, yes, my naming as general secretary is part of this — is that we will no longer be able to say that some of us are [here] because we’re interested in communion while others are only interested in the justice commitment. We’re truly overcoming that dualism.

A transformed church in a world that stays the same is meaningless to me.

Earth Day Worship with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Joan Phillip

We are thrilled to announce that Joan Phillip and her husband Grand Chief Stewart Phillip will be joining us for our annual Earth Day worship service – happening Sunday, April 23rd at 10:30am.

Together Joan and Stewart have spent their lives protecting land and culture, lifting up Indigenous rights, and defending Aboriginal Rights and Title. In 2014 the Grand Chief was arrested at Burnaby Mountain, resisting the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Special Musical Guest: CBC Freedom Singer Khari Wendell McClelland.

Joan Phillip is a former elected member of the Penticton Indian Band Council. Joan has more than four decades of political experience advancing Indigenous rights from the 1970’s Native Alliance for Red Power period to the present day. In her role with the Penticton Indian Band Council and as its Lands Administrator for more than ten years, she helped manage reserve lands and resources as a Nation-building exercise, and in a manner that protects them for future generations’ use and enjoyment. Joan is of mixed heritage including Okanagan and Tsleil-Waututh, and has been married for 32 years to her husband Grand Chief Phillip. They have four grown sons, two daughters, seven granddaughters and seven grandsons.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. In October 2008, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip concluded his fourth consecutive term as Chief of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) after having served the Band as Chief for a total of 14 years. In addition, he served as an elected Band Councilor for a 10 year period and continues to serve as the Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. In October 2006, the Okanagan Nation, led by the Elders of the Penticton Indian Band, acknowledged his lifetime commitment to the defense of Indigenous Peoples’ Title and Rights by bestowing on him and his family the rare honour of the title of Grand Chief.

Over 37 years, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has worked within the Penticton Indian Band Administration holding a variety of positions such as, Band Administrator, Director of Land Management, Education Counselor, Economic Development Officer and Band Planner. Aside from serving as a member of the PIB council for a total of 24 years, he is proud to be in his fifth three-year term as the President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

He has taken an active role in the defence of Aboriginal Title and Rights by readily offering support to Native communities in need. He has taken a personal approach seeing first-hand the impact of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago, lobbying on Parliament Hill to defeat the First Nations Governance Act, standing with Elders of Treaty 8 against oil and gas development in the Peace River, burning referendum ballots with fellow chiefs in protest and has stood on the steps of the Legislature with 3000 other people united under the Title and Rights Alliance banner.

Grand Chief Phillip has been married for 32 years to his wife Joan. They have four grown sons, two daughters, seven granddaughters and seven grandsons. He is currently enjoying his 29th year of sobriety. In this regard, he is a firm believer in leading by example.

“I hereby commit to work collectively with the Chiefs of the UBCIC, the First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations. We must work together to ensure the governments of Canada and British Columbia endorse and implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for our Nations and communities. We must work together to compel government to update the Comprehensive Claims Policy to reflect the many hard-fought court victories such as the Delgamuuk’w, Haida and William cases” — Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.