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Fort Garry United Church
Day of Pentecost / Celebration of Baptism / June 9, 2019
Rev. Min-Goo Kang
Text: Acts 2:1-21

A Letter to Holland
Dear Holland, this is my letter to you. Today is a big day for you and your family as we are celebrating your baptism. You may not fully realize the significance of your baptism now, but as time goes by you will learn to appreciate the meaning. It is here in baptism that we recognize God’s love for you, and we respond to that love by rejoicing in it. Baptism is God’s way of saying “I love you so much more than anyone in the world can” and our way of saying “yes, God, yes, let your love fill our hearts so we can demonstrate your love in all that we say and do.” This is the moment in your life that will continue to evoke who you really are and to whom you belong. Holland, you are a beloved child of God; you belong to God and God’s family.
By the time you will be able to read this letter, Holland, you will understand already that the world around you is not entirely safe or reliable. Things happen for no reason, and everyone goes through good times and bad times. Since you were born, you probably have cried a lot because that’s one of the ways you communicate with the people close to you. There is, however, a spiritual meaning of cries. Just like you cry to your mom when you are hungry, wet or something is not right, you can cry out to God. You see, nobody is going to cry if there is no one who will listen to them; we can only cry because we know someone will answer. By crying out to God, Holland, you express your deep trust in God. The good news is that God will not forsake you or leave you; you can always rely on the hand of God that will hold you in all circumstances especially in times of trouble. Baptism is a recognition and celebration of God’s faithful companionship, the journey together with you.
That’s why we are excited to be here as witnesses to the power of God’s spirit, who works in you as it works in us. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, he wasn’t alone. There were lots of people who shared one baptism with him. The gospels describe this special moment with such an imaginative and affirming way. “The heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’” I am sure that the people at the river were in awe because as Jesus was affirmed they were affirmed, as Jesus was loved they were loved. They would have remembered Jesus’ baptism throughout his life and ministry and beyond. I can tell you that there are lots of happy faces here today. Holland, you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We will continue to support you and your family remembering always this shared experience of God’s grace and love. Once again we welcome you into the body of Christ. You are joining with countless siblings of Christ around the world in celebrating God’s presence.
Throughout your journey with Christ, Holland, you will learn the mystery of living in community. In fact, you already know what it is like living in community. In your immediate family, there are not only your parents but also your older sister, London who came before you. You are blessed to be in relationship with everyone in your family. You are a blessing to your family as together you and your family continue to learn to live as a family of four. You were born into a very loving and faithful family. Both your mom and dad were born and raised in a Christian family. It is important for your parents to pass on what they have been given from their previous generations to you – being part of the community, believing, knowing God, being kind to others, and helping them when needed. These values will keep you grounded and strong. I was struck by how your sister, London shows her empathy toward you, and how you like to follow everything she does. Holland, you have the gift of paying attention. You really notice what’s around you. When you came into my office the other day with your parents, the first thing you noticed after a brief greeting was the fan in the ceiling. Then, your mind was captured by the rain stick I gave you. You were mesmerized by the wonder of things as we were mesmerized by the gift of attention you bring to our world. You are so observant that the people around must pay equal attention to what you notice. Thank you for your gift of attention; it helps us notice things we sometimes take for granted, and it helps us communicate more deeply.
That is the work of the Spirit. Everything becomes extraordinary when you let the Holy Spirit breathe into each and every moment. When the followers of Christ gathered together in one place, they experienced the transforming power of the Spirit. They were able to communicate beyond the limit of language or cultural differences. That’s how the church began, and that’s what makes church alive – listening to the Spirit, and speaking boldly and acting courageously as it moves us. It is my prayer that throughout your life, Holland, you will be guided and strengthened by the power of the Spirit. It is still possible, just like what happened on the day of Pentecost, people will be perplexed, they will misunderstand you, and the world will misjudge you. But remember, Holland, to follow the same voice that is speaking to you today “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” Following the Spirit, you will always speak the truth in love, notice the beauty of everything, and hear the sound of praise to God as your great crowd of witnesses have always done.
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Fort Garry United Church
Pride Sunday / June 2, 2019
Rev. Min- Goo Kang
Text: Psalm 139; Galatians 3:23-29

Diverse and Beautiful
Nothing has a greater impact on me than a real encounter. While I was doing a Master’s degree in the study of religion, I joined a religious research group to travel to China. I was studying ancient Chinese Scriptures of Taoism day and night, but my biggest learning didn’t come from reading the texts, but came from meeting Taoists on the high mountain in China. I remember their genuine smiles, hospitality, the powerful rituals they performed, and their humble life styles; they were living a life of balance with not much materials joyfully and fully. Taoism, after meeting with the Taoists, was no longer an ancient belief system that existed in the library; it became a real possibility that could change my life and others.
My biggest learning about Christianity also didn’t come from reading the texts or theology books, but came from meeting people, especially my LGBTQ friends who are Christians - ministers or laity. They helped me to unlearn things that didn’t make sense to me or to them. They taught me to appreciate what many of us take for granted – a sense of belonging. A colleague of mine in ministry shared her powerful testimony of two dramatically opposite experiences with the two different churches regarding communion - how she was not welcomed to the table because of her sexual orientation, and how she was welcomed to the table regardless her identity. One of the most profoundly spiritual persons I’ve ever met was a trans woman. She spoke about her journey of becoming who she was meant to be. Her deep self-awareness and spirituality broke down barriers – the confines of traditional Western ideas of gender.
It was a sexual minority group who challenged the church to practice a radical hospitality like Jesus did. They taught all of us in the church to act out of love not out of fear. During the long hours of emotional discussion at the 32nd General Council in Victoria, BC, Tim Stevenson, the first openly gay person to be ordained in Canada, spoke to the gathered people in the room, saying “Please come and talk to me, don’t just talk about me.” Their courage to speak their truth eventually helped the church to experience the transforming power of the spirit. They planted the seed of hope with their struggle, pain and tears, and it took the whole church to nurture the seed as we have continued to learn a radical hospitality. We can draw our circle wide, and make it wider still because of God’s radical love that can dissolve all the existing boundaries.
Again it was my friends from LGBTQ community who showed me such boundless love. Living where you don’t know the language or culture can be very intimidating. I remember a sense of dislocation and confusion while studying at Vancouver School of Theology. I don’t know how many times I had to watch my classmates talking back and forth with the instructor like a ping pong game. The language barrier made me feel insecure at school and elsewhere. Those who helped me to participate in the life of the school and in the wider church, and eventually helped me to feel I belonged there, were usually the ones who also experienced exclusion somewhere else because of who they were.
As I shared in my column this week, I spent an incredible weekend last week at Queer and Faithful, a conference about intersectionality of faith, race and queerness. Seven panelists shared their experiences with their communities of faith. They are Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Metis and Christian. The power of truth-telling unveiled the damage done to LGBTQ and Two Spirit persons in the name of religion. A question was raised during the Q & A which, I think, sums up the whole conference. What would be a role for LGBTQ and Two Spirit people in transforming communities of faith? In other words, how can religion be saved?
Although it’s not fair to ask a particular group of people to fix the problem of religious oppression, I think, the question implies possible alternatives to the dominant culture or system based on a hierarchical, top-down, bureaucratic and binary way of thinking and doing. Many of my queer friends practice their faith not despite of but because of their queerness. It has deepened their understanding of the Holy, and I believe, it can help broaden and deepen our understanding of the Holy. A variety of expressions of faith and of who we are can only affirm the beloved creation that is always diverse and beautiful.
Now I invite you to listen to a story of Ruth Wood, the minister of Calvary Pastoral Charge in Kingston, Ontario. She talks about her new journey in life, that as a transgender person and her theological reflection on acceptance and love.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD4X1TKjtL4Ruth Wood, the minister of Calvary Pastoral Charge in Kingston, Ontario, talks about her new journey in life, that as a transgender person and her theologica...
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SAT, MAY 11 - ANNUAL GARAGE SALE @ Fort Garry United Church - Thank you to everyone who came and purchased treasures! Hope you come again next year!
We need to give a big thank you to Dianne Cooper, who was leading the Garage Sale event and was there non-stop for the week! As well, we give a thank you to Laura Shwetz for her pricing knowledge. Thanks to Eltie Pearce for all the promotional work, especially through social media. To the 35-40 volunteers who worked so hard, setting up tables, transporting, moving furniture, and boxes; receiving, sorting, organizing the donations, & packing up on Monday, we sincerely thank you!
There are Many Benefits:
Many people were able to buy items at a fraction of the normal price
We are recycling so many things that might otherwise end up in the landfill, and so are doing what we can to save the planet
Many people who genuinely need items & can’t afford new, were able to find things
Those who donated things, now have clean homes/closets/garages
The items left over went to Salvation Army Stores to help the population who needs it
And we took in $6880 fundraising for the church!
Thanks to everyone!
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It's not too late to donate any large items to the Garage Sale! We can receive today, Fri, May 10th, up until 7:00 pm! Help is available to unload. ... See MoreSee Less

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Giant Garage Sale at Fort Garry United Church, Sat May 11, 9 - 3, 800 Point Rd. Lots of great stuff! ... See MoreSee Less

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Garage Sale Treasures are arriving daily! It is a must to attend on Saturday, May 11, 9am - 3pm ... See MoreSee Less

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Loads of great stuff for Saturday's Garage Sale! Come on down Sat, May 11! ... See MoreSee Less

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Giant Garage Sale at Fort Garry United Church, 800 Point Rd. Saturday, May 11, 9am - 3pm. Here is a sample of things that can be yours! ... See MoreSee Less

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