Message from Rev. Beth: Sermon Series for February

Happy new year!

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says: “I used to think that the greatest command in the Bible was ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ I was wrong. Only in one place does the Bible ask us to love our neighbor. In more than thirty places it commands us to love the stranger…It isn’t hard to love our neighbors…What’s tough is to love the stranger, the person who isn’t like us.”1

Join us in the month of February as we dive deep into the idea of hospitality. Who are the strangers we don’t even notice or prefer not to love? What does it take to live into a deeper understanding of hospitality, rooted in Jesus’ love for the least and the lowest? Are we even called to welcome strangers with drastically different political views? How about strangers who profess hate and enact violence?

See the specifics of the sermon series, Hospitality: Loving the Stranger (right) and check out our Events calendar to learn about other ways to engage in reflection and practice of hospitality throughout the next month. Take particular note of our community potluck, A Midwinter Night’s Dinner (Feb 2), and our Valentine’s Gala Dinner & Dance (Feb 17), both in support of our ministry at First United, In From the Cold, as well as a film screening (Feb 3) and Fireside Chat (Feb 17) hosted by our Reconciliation Seekers.

See you soon,
Rev. Beth

1Letty M. Russell, Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference, eds J. Shannon Clarkson and Kate M. Ott, (Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009) 101.

All are welcome at A Midwinter Night’s Dinner

Join fellow Vancouverites of all ages for a simple potluck dinner where we will break bread, make friends, and share in human connection.

Vancouver is known as a lonely city, but we at Canadian Memorial are here to challenge that narrative! On February 2 at 6:00pm, join us for A Midwinter Night’s Dinner, as we bring together a group of strangers for a community experience over food.

Community dinners like this are growing in popularity across Canada, and we are bringing that trend to Vancouver. The United Church Observer even recently published an article on the rise of community dinners across the country. To quote journalist Alanna Mitchell, “The revival of community dinners reveals that we long for more than good food – we want human connection.” Want to experience this for yourself? A Midwinter Night’s Dinner will be an opportunity for all of us to build connection and community, even in the midst of winter.

This dinner is potluck, and registration is required to attend because space is limited. There’s a suggested donation of $5.

Canadian Memorial is an open-minded, open-hearted, Affirming community. All are truly welcome. No religious or spiritual affiliation is required. Just bring some food to share and an open heart. Come with people you know, or just show up and be introduced to new friends. We look forward to sharing food in community with you!

CLICK HERE for tickets and more details!

Welcome Joseph Kyser!

We are thrilled to welcome Joseph Kyser to Canadian Memorial as our new Minister of Community Life this week.

As a lifelong member of the Church, Joseph has sought to combine his interests of education and Christianity together through his studies, leadership, and community participation.

His formal education includes a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Educational Technology from the University of Central Missouri, as well as a Master of Divinity from Boston University. Currently, he is completing a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from the University of British Columbia. 

Joseph brings an energetic passion for living intentionally in a faith community. Previously, he has served two congregations as an associate minister, and has worked to promote equal rights for the queer community within religious settings.

Welcome, Joseph!

Blue Christmas Service  – Where you can just “be”

“I’ll be home for Christmas, You can plan on me, Please have snow and mistletoe, And presents under the tree…” While these lyrics are beautiful and poignant to some, they can be gut-wrenching and painful for others.

Christmas is a time of festive celebrations with family and friends or so commercialism has taught us to believe. The Hallmark Channel is littered with every type of movie with a happy and sappy Christmas ending.  You can’t pop down to the grocery store without hearing about Rudolph’s Red Nose, and youcan’t turn on the TV or radio without some commercial telling you to buy the perfect gift. For some, this frenzied Festivus is anything but fun. Sometimes there are no friends to buy for, no loved one returning, no presents under a tree, and no happy Hallmark ending. It can be a very hard, lonely and dark season for some.

Canadian Memorial United Church tangibly recognizes this and offers a time of refuge from the “holly and jolly”. Called ‘Blue Christmas’ the service is designed especially for those that are grieving and who are lonely this year. It’s an hour to escape the pressure to be happy in the face of holiday expectations and to just accept that they are experiencing pain and uncertainty this Christmas season.

Reverend Beth Hayward says, “We as a congregation look forward to this service every year. We are humans and humans feel everything – even if we put a brave face on. When we look at the spectrum of life and all that is in it, yes there are grand celebrations and accomplishments but there are also failures, job losses, sick loved ones, illnesses and uncertainty in our own lives. And sometimes it’s even just a gut feeling of melancholy. Blue Christmas in a way celebrates this. It acknowledges who we are and where we are going in all of the messiness that makes us human.”

Inge (last name withheld) attended Blue Christmas last year after her husband – the love of her life – died of cancer just a few short months before. The then newlywed was deep into mourning. She says, “Although I’d heard about CMUC’s Blue Christmas, I didn’t attend a service until last year. I would always make a note of the date, because my husband was living with a terminal illness, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would want and need to escape the merriment of Christmas and sit in a safe space and be sad. Last spring it happened: my husband died and I needed a time out from all the seasonal cheer. I went alone but was joined by so many others, and without knowing or needing to know each other’s stories, we sat and let tears run down our cheeks, we remembered, we loved, we were quiet, we lit candles, and  at the end we were free to hug one another or simply slip away. I was so grateful to have a designated time and space to be blue because allowing my grief to have its moment gave me the courage and strength to move forward into the festive season. 

Six weeks ago my mother died, and I find myself here again, in that isolating fog of mourning. But I’m not actually alone, for I will go to the Blue Christmas service again, and there will be dozens and dozens of people needing this respite.  I will go and be still, and remember, and in doing so, I will be well.”

Reverend Beth says,We know that offering this time, place and safe space is so important. Every year this service grows. Some that attend are really grieving a loss, others come to have lonely hearts filled, while others are just wanting to press pause and take a big reflective breath during the season. The music is meditative and we guide this tender audience through a series of reflections. I truly believe as things just seem to ramp up every year and there is no proper time to be quiet and transparent, that everyone needs a Blue Christmas. It’s a chance to just ‘be’. To be all that is human, and to feel all of the feels, no matter what time of year.” 

Blue Christmas takes place this year on December 19 at 7:30pm. There will be a time of music, quiet reflection, and stories. The service is free and open to all.

When: Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Where: Canadian Memorial United Church (15th Avenue at Burrard Street)

Time: 7:30-8:30pm

Cost: Free to attend. 


Christmas at Canadian Memorial

Now that our tree is lit and decorations have been hung, we’re ready to celebrate the season with you! From annual Christmas concert to the quiet Blue Christmas service to three services on Christmas eve, CMUC has something for everyone. Please join us!


Sunday, December 16
9:00am & 11:00am

Our annual Christmas concert x2!

With a 60-voice choir, full orchestra and children’s choir, and featuring musical selections ranging from classical, pop to soul-shaking gospel, CHRISTMAS JOY has something for everyone. Come join us as we celebrate the season of Joy!

The same concert happens at both 9am and 11am, to ensure there is enough room for everyone.

Tips: This is our most popular service of the year. If you want to guarantee yourself a seat, come at 9am!


Blue Christmas

Wednesday, December 19


The Christmas season can be incredibly tough for those who have experienced loss. Whether it’s grieving a loved one, disconnection from family, sorrow for the state of the world, or just a deep loneliness, Christmas can feel more tormenting than triumphant. Join Minister Beth Hayward for a special service, known as Blue Christmas, to acknowledge and release our grief and sorrow and begin a new journey toward joy.


Christmas Eve

Monday, December 24

4:00pm: Nativity for Kids – A Christmas Service especially for the little ones! With characters, costumes and the Baby Jesus. Featuring a few Christmas carols, storytelling and sacred moments, and possibly even a little dancing. All wrapped up in 30 minutes!

7:00pm & 9:00pm: Candlelight service – A Christmas Service for the whole family! Amid the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, join us for a sacred moment. A chance to remember the Christmas story, to sing some of your favourite songs, and to be in the warm and loving company of this warm and loving community of faith. This candlelight service features soloist Dawn Pemberton. You won’t want to miss it!


General info for all services

Free to attend. Freewill offering. All are welcome!


There’s always plenty of free street parking south of 16th Avenue.


We have a level access door to the Church on the west side (opposite side from Burrard street). You can get there from the lane or up the sidewalk from 15th Avenue. Handicapped parking spots are available in the lot next to the Centre for Peace.

Visually impaired: If your visual impairment means you can read a large text document, please speak to an usher or greeter. We have the worship bulletin printed out in large print each week for this purpose.

Hearing impaired: We have audio aids for those who have trouble with their hearing. Just ask an usher when you arrive.