Gordon Head United Church Newsletter November 2015

All Saints Day – Rev Mark GreenMark Green- annual report

This coming Sunday, Nov 1st, is All Saints Day, the day immediately following Halloween.   This year it happens to fall on a Sunday which mean we can celebrate some of the traditions that surround this day.   But it also happens to be a good analogy about life in our current context of North America and here in Victoria.

While many of you may know the roots of All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day, few in our contemporary culture know what they are.   Over the years, the commercial culture has taken over the festival of Halloween and All Saints Day has completely disappeared. Did you know that Canadians will spend almost 1 billion dollars on costumes and decorations for this holiday?   That the only other holiday that outspends this one is Christmas?    This cultural shift has happened in a very short period of time as well.   My guess is when GHUC built this building, that the streets were filled with youngsters going door to door with costumes primarily made up from things that people had around the house.   The average house would have upwards of 150 children come by on an evening.  Most houses would be decorated with simply a carved pumpkin or Jack ‘O Lantern.   But over the years,  things have changed dramatically.  Peoples yards are filled with blow up decorations and elaborate scenes. Costumes are mostly bought at the store and are of characters that were not even around in the early 80’s.  So much has changed.  More money is spent but there is less connection to the roots of the celebration.   If you were to have transported yourself from 1982 to 2015, there is little about the celebration that you would recognize.  And while the church building is still standing, the culture around it has changed dramatically.

So here we are,  All Saints day in the year 2015.   I wonder what life will look like 35 years from now in this neighbourhood?  It is not likely that any of us will be around then.  But I am hopeful that a church presence, a legacy, built on the Saints of the past will be here to witness and give hope to the generations to come.   The church will not be in the form it is today,  that we know for sure.  But we can invest ourselves in a vision for the future that we cannot see clearly.  That’s what it means to build upon the work of the Saints.

Each of us have had people in our lives whose work and witness have laid the foundations for many of the positive things we’ve been able to accomplish in our lives.  There was no payback for them personally but there was an investment made in the future.  I am grateful, as I’m sure you are, for those who went before me, the Saints, who had a vision of a United Church,  a liberal voice that was fearless at times to do and be something more.  Those Saints were willing to risk all they had, and all they were, to create something for future generations.   I hope as GHUC moves into its next chapter, that it will be able to catch a small glimpse of the generations to come who will build on the legacy you are leaving behind.   It is a brave thing to do and not an easy thing.   But life around us has changed, like the Halloween celebrations.  May we give thanks for the Saints that went before us and may we with gratitude be prepared to offer to future generations the same hope and investment they gave us.


 There are a number of questions, concerns and wonderings circulating puzzle-piecesthat the Board has asked me to address in this newsletter about the amalgamation process and where things are at.   I will attempt to answer those questions that I’m aware of,  but if you are left with further questions, I hope you will feel free to make contact with me via phone or email and I will do my best to answer them.   The road to this point has been long an arduous for many of you,  and the primary emotion that the board and I keep encountering is exhaustion.  As you valiantly tried to keep things afloat here,  many of you gave of all you had in terms of energy and time.   And as we turn the page to the next chapter,  many are expressing a bone deep weariness.  That is to be expected and makes sense.   CBUC is wanting to help share the burden where they can and offer support and encouragement during this transition time.

The Gordon Head congregation is grieving at the losses it has experienced, is experiencing now and that it anticipates in the near future.  If you know of the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross,  you will know that she describes the stages of grief that individuals and institutions can go through.   It begins with shock, moves to anger and then bargaining.   After that comes a time of depression until there emerges a sense of peace and acceptance.   Each of you are in a different place in this cycle of grieving at the closure of the Gordon Head building as a worship and gathering place.   Some of you are still very angry.  Some keep wanting to see if there is a place to bargain.  Some are feeling sad and depressed and a small number have moved to a place of acceptance and peace.   I hope in the coming months that with the help of James Prette, that more of you will find yourselves moving to a place of peace and a hope for what might be next.  To facilitate that, here are some answers to common questions being asked.


 Who do I call when I need to get a hold of the church or a minister? 

You can continue to call the same church number (250-477-4142) you have always used.  It will remain in use although it is now answered at CBUC.  The good news is that it will be answered by a live person Monday through Friday from 9-5.  Meghan is the Administrator and will either answer your questions or forward you to someone who can

 What about email ?

You can email the church office at or you can email me personally at 

When will the amalgamation take place with Cadboro Bay United?

The official amalgamation has already occurred on Sept 8th 2015.  Presbytery amalgamated the two congregations upon the request by letter of both congregation’s official boards and trustees.  We are now in the process of working through a timeline of bringing things together. Administration has been the place of the most changes with CBUC taking on almost all of the day to day functions.  James Prette is with GHUC for a 4 month appointment that will conclude at the end of December.

When will the last worship service take place at GHUC?

The last worship service in the form it is now will take place December 28th, 2015.  After that date, there will be an official celebration service of closure on a date yet to be named.  The board at GHUC is still working to discern when that might be and what format it will take.

I thought we were going to be able to stay and worship here till May?  What changed?

In the original proposal from CBUC in February of 2015,  the month of May was an option with a number of other adjustments for time and staffing.  At that time, the GHUC congregation wanted to pursue an option with Hollydene.  This proved not to be viable or possible and presbytery was asked to give their opinion of the next step.   They recommended amalgamation with CBUC but with a ¼ time staff person to be added to the process to help the transition.  A review of the finances at that time also included a recommendation of closure at the end of 2015.

What will happen to the building and the other renters afters December 31st?

There will be no changes to building in the immediate future as this amalgamation is only the first step in a larger visioning process.  The next steps of that will get underway in the New Year.  Meanwhile, GHUC building will continue to be able to offer space to the playschool and many of the other renters that have historically had space in the building.  Some new renters have also recently been added and another large rental group is being negotiated with at this present time.

I heard that there was to be a traditional service offered.  When and where will that be?

Everyone is welcome to attend the regular service at Cadboro Bay, but some have expressed interest in a more traditional offering.  This is definitely an option if there is a critical mass of people wanting such a service.  A minimum of 25 people is needed to offer this.  At the moment, James is asking that question in his visits and the board is trying to ascertain from each of you when and where you’d like this to happen.   Ideas that have been floated include:  a 9 am  Sunday service at CBUC; a chapel like service midweek at GHUC for a period of time; an evening service at CBUC.  We invite you to share what you would want and be interested in attending.

Is transportation to Cadboro Bay being arranged and considered?

Yes.  Once we know who is interested in attending either of the services offered and what transportation needs there are,  such arrangements will be made to support and accommodate the needs as best as we can.

Besides leading worship on Sunday, what is the role of James Prette over these 4 months?

James is working to meet with as many of the Gordon Head folks as he can, to listen to what they want and need in this transition time.  He is there to provide pastoral support and tries to tie what he is hearing into the worship on Sunday morning.

Can I still have my funeral service in the Gordon Head Sanctuary should I die? Who will officiate?

Yes.  If you or your family desire the service to be held in the sanctuary there, we will do our best to accommodate that request.  Rev. Mark Green would be the minister officiating and he can be reached at either the GHUC phone number or the CBUC phone number

Will the Monday Parents and Tots Group still be able to meet?  What about the Thrift Store?  Can other former church groups still use the space if desired from time to time?

The Monday Parents and Tots Group will be able to function as long as there are volunteers to facilitate that happening.  Same is true of the Thrift Store.  At the moment it is trying to determine how long it will stay open.  If there is a former GHUC group that wants to meet from time to time, they will be able to phone the office and book the building. Space at CBUC would also be available for use as well.

What will happen to the church records, documents, pictures and other memorabilia ?

The board has hired Erin Sterling to archive the official church records and documents and they will be sent to the United Church BC Archives.  The other things, like pictures, memorabilia, and documents will need to be sorted by GHUC volunteers. Some things will be returned to those who donated them,  some things boxed and saved for historical purposes and some things may be discerned to be no longer necessary to keep. The group doing the sorting will decide what is what.

There will likely be more questions going forward, and I will create another newsletter to try and answer other questions as they arise.  You can also ask your board chair, Michael Storr,  or you can speak with James Prette or Mark Green and we will attempt to answer or find someone who can answer for you . It’s a journey that we are taking together.

A Few Opportunities:

Sponsoring a Refugee:  An initiative has begun at CBUC to raise funds that an anonymous donor  has then  offered to match up to $5000.   This opportunity is open to both congregations and to date, 2 people from GHUC have made donations.  If you are interested in doing so, please make your cheque out to Cadboro Bay United Church with “Special Refugee Fund” written in the memo section and place your special offering in an envelope marked Refugee Fund and it will forwarded to the right place.

Angel Gifts:  There will be an opportunity for GHUC and CBUC to work together to provide gifts for those living on the street through the ministry of OUR PLACE.   Gift cards with the persons first name, gender, age and size will be available around the first week of advent for you to pick up.   Your gift needs to be returned by December 13th to the church.  Average cost of the gift should be around $40 and suggestions are made on the instruction sheet that comes with the card.

CBUC Weekly email and newsletter:  If you would like to start receiving Mark’s weekly CBUC email blog and update,  you can be added to the list by emailing  In addition there is a newsletter that comes out on the first Sunday of every month that has lots of information about what is happening around your new sister congregation.

 In closing,  I hope this has helped to answer some of your questions and wonderings.   Please don’t hesitate to phone or email if there are other things you are wondering or worried about or that might make this transition time easier.  I know this is a hard time.   I and the members at CBUC will continue to hold you in prayer each week as well.

Mark Green