“Go with the people who say yes!”

Balloons were shared at the closing worship service at the Skylight Festival.
Credit: facebook.com/skylightfestival
Published On: August 4, 2016

Embracing the Spirit has been launched! It was launched on Saturday at the Skylight Festival in Paris, Ontario. (Watch the unedited recording of the live stream broadcast.)

This is the program for innovation and renewal in the United Church, approved by General Council last August, with the direction that 10 percent of Mission and Service funds be dedicated to these places of opportunity in our church. It had a different name then (Chasing the Spirit) but the new name, “Embracing the Spirit” was chosen through a church-wide contest and announced at Saturday’s launch.

Two presentations that preceded the announcement gave examples of innovative ministries that reach out into their communities. The Raw Carrot works out of the Presbyterian Church in Paris, Ontario, to give food preparation and marketing experience to people who have previously been on social assistance. The Stone Soup Network which will be launched from Windermere United Church this fall, will pair people in the community with talents or other things to offer with people in the community who need those things. In describing the inspiration behind the project, Rev. Alexa Gilmour told of visiting a neighbourhood hairstylist to ask about haircuts for the refugee family who were staying in the church, and getting the response: “I have been wanting to do something to help others, but I didn’t know what I could offer since all I know how to do is to cut hair.”

The bits of advice I remember most from those presentations were, “Just get started!” (permission to get started even before all the details are worked out), and “Go with the people who say yes!” (if there is enough support, don’t worry if there are still some detractors, this may not be the project for them).

Image removed.

There are so many more impressions I brought home from the weekend events at Skylight:

  • Tenters happily camping out in rain and shine.
  • Inspiring words from our Moderator Jordan about how our faith calls us to be serious about right relations, Black Lives Matter, and so much more.
  • A whole variety of speakers on so many different things.
  • Lots of music
  • Bare feet
  • Kids and puppies
  • Worshipping outside with about 500 people
  • Worship ending with balloons… first kept aloft and then popped!

Lots more, but you had to be there… if you weren’t, they are already planning for next year’s Skylight!

I’m going to be out of the office for the next while, so best August wishes to all of you.


Nora Sanders is General Secretary of The United Church of Canada. Subscribe to her email message, "Note from Nora." ​

Photos courtesy of Skylight Festival Facebook page.

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