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AOTS National Update

We just had an exciting National Executive Meeting targeted mostly at revising the Constitution. The organization is much smaller than when the original document was produced. All revisions were approved for distribution to all members on the website and next Handshake. This will be followed by a vote at the next Biennial to make the changes final. Watch for this and there will be contacts provided there for any feedback.

It was decided that the next Biennial meeting will be held in Jacksons Point again on the Friday preceding the Central Region Roundup with the Executive meeting on Thursday. There is hope that Newfoundland might host the following meeting in 2013.


I hope your club is aware of the Dondi Project which is raising funds to rebuild a school in Dondi Angola. The Men's Ministry office at United Church Head Office led by Rev. Lloyd Paul and a board of directors which includes many active AOTS members is leading this. AOTS is taking a support role in attempting to interest men of the United Church in embracing this project. More info is available on the AOTS website. At the Central Regional Roundup an anonymous donor offered to match donations up to $1000 and this amount was donated! The next major event is a drumathon in October.


Please view The Dondi Project Presentation Update for Jackson's Point AOTS

I thought you might be interested in a listing of the clubs in Canada showing the number of dues paying members in each Club. It was disappointing to see two clubs withdraw this year, but this was partly offset by the chartering of one new club.

We are using the website to maintain better contact with members. The intent is that all non-private information will be available there for ready reference. This will include the Constitution, material order forms, annual membership forms and periodic communication from the President. Have a look at it--it is a very professional site.

In closing I wish your clubs well and appreciate the dues sent and the generous donations to our projects. Have a good summer!

Marvin Bildfell (National Treasurer)

The Dondi Project DVD Study Guide

DVD Study Guide
Voices in the Ruins: The Dondi School Project
This guide also accompanies the YouTube clip “The Dondi Project, Angola” (5 min.; March 31, 2010

147 views The Men's Ministries Network of the United Church is raising funds to help rebuild the Lutamo school in Dondi, Angola with the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola. To learn more and become involved: http://dondiproject.com/

Please contact The Rev. Lloyd Paul for the full-length DVD (21 min).

CONTEXT


The Dondi Project is a response to a call for support from our partner the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA). IECA is working to rebuild a desperately-needed school in Angola. The Men’s Ministries Network of The United Church of Canada is committed to raising $1 million through men’s groups and congregations across Canada.

Voices in the Ruins was filmed in July 2009, and is a co-operative effort of the IECA and The United Church of Canada.

Scriptural context: Luke 10:25–37

OBJECTIVES

• To promote awareness and direct engagement in the project undertaken by the Men’s Ministries Network of the United Church to support the rebuilding of the Lutamo School in Dondi, central Angola.
• To ask congregations to donate to the Dondi Project, to help our Angolan partners achieve their dream.
• To encourage United Church men to use this project as the starting point for creating a congregational group and for joining the Men’s Ministries Network.
• To help participants learn about Angola and about our long-term partnership with the IECA.
• To reflect on who our neighbours are, and on our responses to calls for assistance.

PREPARATION AND SUPPLIES

(For leaders/facilitators)
• To prepare to lead the discussion, reflect on your faith tradition and its relationship to caring for poor and neglected people in the world.
• What does your faith say about justice and care for others? Jot down relevant Bible passages. Read Luke 10:25–37.
• Bring a map of Africa (download one from the Internet or use an atlas) so people can locate Angola.
• Order free materials from the Men’s Ministries Network. (See the contact details on the back page.)
• The 2010 DVD Minutes for Mission (sent to every pastoral charge in the April 2010 Infopac) includes a 5-min. Dondi story. The clip is also on YouTube.
• Organize equipment for showing the DVD: a DVD player or a computer that plays DVDs, a projector, a screen, and speakers.
• Prepare the meeting space for easy viewing of the video.
• Gather flip chart, paper, markers, and pencils to record ideas.
• Optional: provide snacks and drinks/name tags.

WELCOME AND OPENING (5 min.)

• Welcome participants. Open the session with a personal prayer or ask participants to gather for a moment of silence.
• Introduce the Dondi Project as the focus of this study group.
• Read Luke 10:25–37.

INTRODUCTIONS (2–10 min.)

Ask people to introduce themselves and to say why they have come.
DONDI VIDEO (10–35 min.)

Introduce the video.

• The Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA) has been our partner for over a hundred years
• Men of the United Church are invited to help rebuild a school that we helped build originally. Show a map of Angola and the Huambo Province. The estimated cost of rebuilding is $1 million.
• The school was destroyed in a 27-year civil war.
• Education in rural areas is lagging behind that in the cities. For Angolans to lift themselves out of the past, they recognize they need educated people.
• Watch the video. (5 min. or 21 min., depending on which version you show)

GROUP DISCUSSION (30 min.)

Rearrange the seating for small-group discussions. Provide flip charts, markers, paper, and pencils. Ask one person to be the leader/scribe in each group. The leader /scribe will ask the following questions and record the answers.

• What is this video about? What is its meaning?
(2–3 answers)
• What scenes and people do you recall from the film? (An answer from each person)
• What sounds do you remember? What dialogue do you recall? (3–4 answers)
• Where did you notice emotions being expressed in the video? (3–4 answers)
• What did you find most touching? (2–3 answers)
• What surprised you? (1 answer)
• How does the Bible passage we read resonate with this story?
• Do you have questions about the project?
• Do we (as individuals/as a group) want to help the Dondi Project reach its goal?
• What immediate financial commitment can we make?

• What further financial commitment can we make through other fundraising efforts?
• What groups in the congregation might like to join us—youth, the UCW, Sunday school?

ACTION PLAN (10 min.)

Decide who will be responsible for following up on the top 3 actions. This may be an individual for each or a small task force of volunteers. Allow time to be set for a follow up meeting date to be set and a time for the task force to report back to the group/congregation as appropriate.

IDEAS FOR FURTHER INVOLVEMENT

• Walkathon to raise funds for the Dondi Project
• Drumming events with a screening of the DVD
• Multi-generational dinner events with a screening of the DVD and a discussion (as above)
• Participate in a National Drumathon: Oct. 1–2, 2010

CONTACT

The Rev. Lloyd Paul, Men’s Ministries Network
Mail: The United Church of Canada, 3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
Toll-Free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4046
E-mail: lpaul@united-church.ca
Visit: http://dondiproject.com/ and http://www.united-church.ca/

Here is a PDF version of Dondi  DVD Study Guide

© 2010 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca. Any copy must include this notice.

President’s Report May, 2010

Taking the Journey – the road ahead

These days we are assailed by media images that reflect the tenor of our times. Images of hypocrisy, scandal, impropriety and fraud; extremism, war, brutality and terror; oppression, torture, cover-up and denial; intolerance, violence, betrayal and murder. We are left to ask where is god? Where is the god of compassion, generosity, gratitude, joy, justice, love, mercy, and peace.

Our spiritual balance is under attack by, among others, radio talk show pundits who preach a never-ending diet of cynicism, despair hopelessness.

No one is accountable. Everyone else is to blame. Only we are without fault.

We are told to foster a spirituality of me-firstism and to set aside any consideration of what god would have us do.

It is a dilemma of our times. One that can only be countered by putting god on the table for discussion and the consideration of what god would have us do, as a basic ingredient of our decision making. There is a necessity for god.

At an AOTS workshop several years ago we examined the question has your view of god changed over time and if so how?

Most said yes; that the male image of god had changed in their beliefs, even if it remained as imagery in their minds. That included one man who said that after all the mess of things men had made that he was now convinced that god was a woman.

Hallelujah for that.

Yet, for all the men there was a constancy of god and a necessity for god even though their image of that god had changed throughout their journey.

So to it is with the church. Prior to and in preparation for General Council 40, which took place in Kelowna in August of 2009, moderator David Giuliano wrote the words ``We are both shaping and being shaped``.

We engage with god anew everyday – as a church of the social gospel we struggle to hear god’s voice on contemporary issues.

Three central questions for the church were addressed by GC 40. Who is the church? What is ministry? What is our doctrine? They are part of our journey as a united church, part of our history, part of the way we do things. And implicit in the discussion is the constancy of voice of god, necessity for that voice and the reassurance that the voice brings as the compassionate one, the one who provides for us all.

It is this sense of compassion that guides our consideration of all of these questions.

Who is the church?

We recalled the church’s apology to Aboriginal Peoples, “In our zeal to tell you of the good news of Jesus Christ we were closed to the value of your spirituality. We imposed our civilization as a condition for accepting the gospel......We tried to make you be like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As a result you, and we, are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred, and we are not what we are meant by God to be”.

That was twenty years ago. This is a post apology period; we live out god’s word, in truth and reconciliation. We begin a process of inclusion to revisit what we did not do at the basis of our union and establish as policy the presence and spirituality of First People in the United Church.

What is ministry?

What is the place and authority of those who undertake the responsibility of professional ministry? How might people best be educated? How are we doing now? What is changing? What are our challenges?

They included the strengthening of the capacity of presbyteries to effectively exercise their oversight functions. Many congregations struggle financially. The issue of staffing expenditures is often a central concern. How they acquire those staff is a function of the presbytery.

In addition there is the need to prepare and enable new expressions and forms of ministry in a rapidly changing social context.

Much of this relates to youth.

For the most part, our children are not participating in church affairs as much as we would prefer. Many of them don’t attend church regularly at all. We age as a denomination.

In our country, our growth is dependent on immigration.

And no one comes to Canada as a member of the United Church.

But people come with myriad other designations and understandings of spiritual moral development. People assess meaning in life, god in life, out of their own background and upbringing.

And in dealing with the challenges and opportunities of the intercultural context the necessity for god and the discussion of meaning is even more apparent and more required. We need god more now than ever.

What is our doctrine?

Just as we assess our ministry so we also assess our doctrine. Essentially, the proposal of GC 40 is to recognize scripture as our doctrine and include in the Basis of Union three other church statements alongside the 20 Articles of Faith. They are the 1940 Statement of Faith, New Creed (1968) and Song of Faith 2006. We choose to recognize these statements as subordinate to scripture, while recognizing that our doctrine itself grows and develops over time.

So as changes to church, ministry and doctrine evolve, our understanding of god is enhanced. God leads our work. The constancy of god shelters us. God the compassionate one. God the one we find amidst the noise and cynicism of our contemporary existence. God who we find in contemplative reflection, prayer and meditative thought. A god for all people…. a god of green pastures and still waters, a god of right paths, where even in the darkest valley, we fear no evil. Where our shepherd has prepared a table in the presence of our enemies…

In Philip Keller’s book ``a shepherd looks at psalm 23`` he identifies the reference table as tableland or mesa, a flat-topped plateau in the mountains, sought after by shepherds because it was the best grazing place for sheep. The shepherd goes to elaborate lengths to make the land ready for the flock. The table land doesn`t have everything the sheep need so the shepherd brings salt and minerals from without. The shepherd clears waterholes, repairs dams, removes poisonous weeds, protects the animals from their natural predators. The shepherd is the servant of the flock preparing the tableland as the compassionate one. We, of the flock, shall not want.

While god is constancy for us, our understanding of god changes, grows and develops over time; as we are guided by god in our understanding and redefinition of church, ministry, doctrine.

This theme of the shepherd is described again in Revelation 7, where the image of the compassionate one is repeated ``and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them”.

This passage expressed in the simplest terms is as follows: there is a time of great tribulation on the Earth which combines natural disasters with war on an unprecedented scale; it sounds like today. The "Lamb" saves his people from the tribulation, destroys the wicked, and ushers in an age of peace; after the age of peace, there is a second, brief time of trouble which results in the permanent banishment of the wicked; a new heaven and a new earth replace the old, and the people of God go to live in the presence of God and Christ in a heavenly city described as the "new Jerusalem." No matter what their trial or tribulation.

As Martin Luther King Jr said “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

There is no corruption too significant; no impropriety too profound, no toxicity too severe for the compassionate one.

We only need recognize the necessity for the voice of god to be heard in our discussions, our deliberations, our decisions. It will illuminate our path forward in spite of our inability to see the road ahead. God will guide us.

We can be satisfied with the care provided to us by the great pastor of the universe, who we worship in awe and wonder and mystery. Our shepherd is Jehovah. God gives quiet and contentment in the mind, whatever the lot is.

The Revelation passage concludes with the multitude crying out in worship of god who has provided them shelter. “They will hunger no more and thirst no more, the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

And they cry out ``Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might, be to our God forever and ever Amen.

Past President Jim McKibbin