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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Weekly Wire for April 4, 2012


Upcoming Events at a Glance

April 13-15 Nurturing Spirit Weekend Calgary

April 25-29 Fine Arts Retreat Samish Island

April 28-29 Ribstone Enrichment Weekend

Apr 30-May 4 Samish Island Work Week

May 5 Samish Island Work Day

May 12-13 Hills of Peace Camp Opening

May 25-27 Arts on the Lake Hills of Peace

For more information on these events, scroll down!


Video from Apostle Skoor!


See Apostle Susan Skoor’s video Apples/Pears

Apples Pears

We’re having a Canadian National Conference on June 16th 2012!

Find out about the topics that will be discussed, get the tools to help you with your decision making process and find out which satellite location is nearest you. Apostle Susan Skoor will present you with a new thought each month until the conference begins so you can make informed decisions and make your voice heard.

The videos are available in both .MP4 and .flv formats. You may have to wait a moment for the videos to load.

“Get in on the conversation”

Follow us on Facebook at Community of Christ – Canadian National Conference


Percentages for Dummies…in Estate Planning

Ken McGowan

Many of us are familiar with the books, “Whatever for Dummies”. These are my type of books as I never professed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer! When it comes to distributing the residue of your estate, percentages are the way to go. We can never be sure of the exact net dollar value of an estate with appraisals, funeral expenses, other final expenses, taxes, legal costs etc. So it makes it difficult to allocate dollar amounts all around if we do not know the final dollar amount we have. But regardless of the net estate value, we can always calculate percentages of that net amount, so we are never stuck. As long as all the percentage allocations add up to 100%, the full estate, regardless of net estate value, will be fully distributed.

For instance, you can leave a gift to the church and to other beneficiaries very easily. This is how it could work. “I leave 20% of the residue of my estate to the Community of Christ to be allocated to the Presiding Bishop, to be used at his discretion. I leave the remaining 80% equally divided among my two children.”

In this situation, regardless of the net estate value, the children always receive the lion’s share of the estate, 80%. You give voice to your legacy as the church receives lovely bequest and your estate a donation receipt. As it is your estate, you decide on the percentages between the Community of Christ and other beneficiaries.

Providing you have access to a calculator, percentages work very nicely. This is an effective method of distributing the residue of your estate in a will centered or trust centered estate plan. Whether you are reviewing your estate plan or creating your first plan, consider using percentages as method of distributing the residue.

Ken McGowan, B.A; CFP, CEP; MCEP

Estate Planning

1-800-884-7526 ext 5


Nurturing Spirit Weekend in Calgary

Falling in Love with your “Divine Self”

April 13-15, 2012

Community of Christ, 6415 Ranchview Dr. NW, Calgary

Guest Teacher/Minister: Vickie MacArthur has been practicing and teaching yoga and meditation for the past 15 years and sees yoga as a spiritual path healing body, mind and spirit. (

Take time out to nurture body, mind and spirit through the time‐honored practices of yoga and meditation. Learn gentle stretches and breathing practices to release tension and discomfort in the body as well as prayer and meditation to calm and focus the mind.

Fall in love with your “Divine Self” and connect to that place of peace and stillness where God lives and breathes in you. It is from this deep wellspring of stillness and joy, that we can live life more abundantly and learn to love others more deeply.

Registration is just $30 and is kindly required to help with planning meals and workshops. This is also a great opportunity to invite a friend. Please email Mary Jean Belrose at or call (403) 241-9616.

Bring a Yoga mat, blanket, pillow or cushion, coffee/tea mug, journal, and an open mind. (There will be a few extra yoga mats for those who do not have one. There will also be chairs available for those who are not comfortable on the floor.) If you’re either brand new to these practices or have some experience, we look forward sharing the weekend with you!!

Register Now!


Camp Opening at Hills of Peace

May 12 –13


Many hands make light work. Please plan to attend our annual camp opening as we get the grounds ready for another wonderful camping season.

RSVP to Courtenay Znak at


Fine Arts Retreat at Samish Island!

Wednesday April 25 – Sunday April 29

This year you can attend for up to FIVE days, find out more below.


Fine Arts Retreat details here


Top Chef needed for Hills of Peace Family Camp!

What are you waiting for? We need YOU!

Contrary to popular opinion Chef Ramsey will not be judging. You’ll be showered with accolades and thanks from your Hills of Peace friends!


…or a cook would do just fine!

This is a paid position and two assistants will also be needed. HOP Family camp takes place July 8-14. Please reply to Courtenay Znak at


Canada West Youth Camp 2012


This summer, all Junior High age campers (11-14), Senior High age campers (15-18) and Young Adults (between the ages of 18-21) are invited to attend CANADA WEST - YOUTH CAMP 2012. This camp will take place during the first week of July 1-7 at Hills of Peace Campgrounds.

Because we do not have a director for Junior High Camp at the moment, but do not want the Junior High campers to miss out on a camp experience, we have decided to combine Junior High and Senior High camp this year. Also, because we are interested in growing our camping program and for camps to be able to continue in the future, we are making an intentional effort to recruit, train and develop future camp leadership. So, we are inviting Young Adults to attend as well. in an attempt to ensure that people of all ages have an opportunity to attend camp, now and in the future, and to ensure that we have trained leadership to run these events, we are going to try a different sort of camping experience for youth this summer.

Click here Canada West Youth Camp 2012 for more information

If you have any questions about this YOUTH CAMP 2012 experience, please don't hesitate to contact Rachelle Smalldon or 587-920-6330.

Registration forms will be out SOON!




Pursue Peace On Earth


Community of Christ Canadian Peace Award!

Nominations extended to April 30, 2012

Right-click to download [PDF 259.1Kb] a printable version and the application form

We are looking for excellent examples of local people bringing peace to neighbourhoods and their communities through celebration, reconciliation and collaboration.

Examples might be:

  • Mentoring
  • Faith-based community support
  • Volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to reducing violence in their neighbourhoods
  • An individual who has shown exceptional courage in keeping the Peace
  • Community safety / crime reduction initiative.
  • An individual working across diverse groups to bring about positive changes
  • People actively building bridges between young people, communities, generations, faiths or cultures.
  • A congregation actively involved in engaging and connecting local communities, promoting Peace and Justice, uniting others to be peacemakers for the good of all.

To put forward your nominations please complete this application form and submit to the following:

The Canadian National Conference Team
c/o Operations Manager
Tim J. Stanlick
390 Speedvale Ave E
Guelph Ontario
N1E 1N5

Rules of Eligibility

  1. Closing Date for ALL entries has been extended to April 30, 2012.
  2. Nominees may be Canadian members or friends of the Community of Christ.
  3. Additional information and supporting evidence cannot be returned.
  4. The awards will be presented during the Canadian National Conference, June 16, 2012.
  5. Self nominations will not be accepted.
  6. Only award recipients and nominators will be notified in advance.

“We are poised to restore Christ’s covenant of peace, even the Zion of our hopes. The hope of Zion will become reality when we live Christ’s peace and generously share his peace with others.”
Taken from the Community of Christ, “Mission Initiatives” brochure.


Click here to see What’s Up…In the CWM, Christmas in Review



Arts on the Lake is back!


May 25 – 27, 2012 at Hills of Peace campground.

Special Guest Ministry, Singer and Songwriter Dan Beer from Vancouver BC.

Dan Beer - Singer, Songwriter, Musician & Lyricist

Check out his website Dan Beer Music


And remember to tell everyone to register now

Arts on the Lake camp director Dan Woynarski

Or 1-877-411-2632 ext 2




Please let Rachelle Smalldon know at or 587-920-6330 if you are planning to come to SPECTACULAR with our delegation as soon as possible (even before sending forms). This will help immensely with booking flights and planning. Thanks!

More information here

CWM Forms Here


2012 Camping Calendar

April 13-15 Nurturing Spirit Weekend Calgary

April 25-29 Fine Arts Retreat Samish Island

April 28-29 Ribstone Enrichment Weekend

Apr 30-May 4 Samish Island Work Week

May 5 Samish Island Work Day

May 12-13 Hills of Peace Camp Opening

May 25-27 Arts on the Lake Hills of Peace

June 1-3 Camp Genesis (8-9 yrs) Samish Island

June 1-3 Adult Spiritual Retreat Hills of Peace

June 8-10 College Age Young Adult Retreat Hills of Peace

June 9 Samish Island Work Day

June 9-15 Adult Reunion Samish Island

June 16 Canadian National Conference

July 1-7 Senior High Camp (15-18 yrs) Hills of Peace

July 1-7 Camp Mungai (10-11 yrs) Samish Island

July 8-14 Family Reunion Hills of Peace

July 15-19 Junior Camp (8-11 yrs) Hills of Peace

July 14-21 Family Reunion Samish Island

July 21–28 Spectacular Graceland University

July 22-28 Junior High Camp (12-14 yrs) Hills of Peace

July 22-28 Camp Kluane (girls 12-14 yrs) Samish Island

July 29-Aug 4 Camp Chimacum (boys 12-14 yrs) Samish Island

August 10-12 Young Family Weekend Hills of Peace

August 5-11 Camp Kimtah (15-18 yrs) Samish Island

August 12-18 Singles’ Reunion Samish Island

Aug 31-Sept 2 Canada West Mission Conference Regina, SK

September 28-30 Men’s Retreat Hills of Peace

September 28-30 Singles’ Retreat Samish Island

October 12-14 Young Adult Retreat Samish Island

October 12-14 Women's Retreat Chilliwack


Peace and Justice  --  Human Rights


This issue introduces a new feature to these newsletters – its content will finally be placed in an accompanying blog (“web log” or simply a web discussion forum).  While there has always been an invitation to reply via email to the newsletters, it was not a robust mechanism.  Blogs allow fuller public interaction and thus are more in line with the peace and justice underpinnings of Dialogue, although blogs are an extremely rough-hewn mechanism.

The blog will also keep with the basic peace and justice touchstone of not filtering out reality (within human limits) – a people of peace must engage in the full human dynamic.  Thus this blog will only be moderated to catch spam and attacks on personal character, falling heavily on the side of freedom of speech.  It is hoped that passion and respect can be held in balance. 

Additionally, while this is a Community of Christ newsletter, there is a parallel one which includes a non-religious audience.  Both share this same new blog.  Thus one should avoid “in-house” language, since there will be no shared understanding of such terms.  “Zion” is a term that ignited my vision as a youth of the Kingdom of God on earth; but I would never use it in the blog, since my sense would get lost in other perspectives (for example, those who see the word as symbolizing their right to a piece of land, or those who feel it symbolizes their oppression).  Please note that various church-specific forums already exist and can be used for such (See: Church-specific forums).

Secondly, please note that this newsletter is actually a combined February-March edition.  Unfortunately the February edition got snared in a convergence of changed hardware, software and conflicting schedules and was never sent.  So this edition contains a few remaining relevant pieces from it, plus the usual March items.

Finally, this has delayed until the April edition, another new feature.  It will be an occasional section that focuses more in-depth on an issue.  It will now start in April and will focus on the issue of “Mental Health”.  This topic more generally points to the topic of Human Nature, which underlies, informs or shapes notions of peace and justice.

The blog associated with this newsletter is at:  Feel free to comment on any topic.


Pour la traduction française: cliqueter ici; et cliqueter alors le bouton de traduction sur la page Web.

Para la traducción española: clic aquí; y entonces hace clic en el botón de traducción en la página web.




It has been a year since the “Arab Spring” uprisings. While this newsletter is primarily focused on actions that might move us to a more decent world (and an action on this topic follows in the next section), the scope of the past year`s upheavals is worth some brief reflections, which will be focused on four countries: Egypt, Syria, Mali and Turkey. 

However firstly I want simply to list the scope by country.  Most lists include between 15 – 18 countries.  Rulers have been forced from power in four countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen); civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in six countries (Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Oman); and minor protests have occurred in five countries (Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara).  Freedom House indicates that the most significant gains were concentrated largely in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, while the largest declines in freedom included Bahrain, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Egypt: On the upside, the protestors did learn the lessons from the past, as mentioned in past newsletters, and kept up the pressure until Mubarak was gone and elections were held.  The downside from an idealized Western script standpoint was that: (a) the resulting playing field was not level – some parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood have for years had an extensive, well-running structure and were able to use it to capture a disproportionate vote; and (b) the West tended to project onto most Egyptians the aspirations of the protesters.  While that was not unfounded in terms of the basic desire to remove the past’s oppressive factors, it did not extend that far (specifically to the rural areas) in terms of a more Western-style, secularist style government.  In the end, one can only hope that despite the ever-present geo-political meddling and the uneven nature of current power dynamics, basic human rights will gain an ever stronger presence.

Syria: Syria forms the other end of the spectrum, where Syria’s president has ruthlessly suppressed all dissent, resulting in 9000 dead.  See the article below – complicated.

Mali:  Mali had been a stable democratic nation for 21 years.  It had nothing directly to do with the Arab Spring. But indirectly, Mali’s recent coup that ended its stability can be traced to the Arab Spring, one of the unintended consequences of toppling Libya (to see the connection read the Al Jazeera article). The point is simply that not all repercussions can be even remotely imagined nor are good.

Turkey: Turkey was also not part of the Arab Spring.  But Turkey is a key indicator of the fluid nature of the democratic space that might be attained, specifically it democratic-economic-Islamic balance.  As a bridge between East and West, Turkey has a strong secular legacy.  But it has become harder to read recently, for instance, due to trouble with the military which led to a tighter fist and fear of further oppression of its own people (at least 70 journalists detained recently).  See Is Turkey the Best Model for the Arab World?.


Brief Background: Sample of the clichéd views and more solid footing:

Far from the Tahrir Dream [Oxford professor; Globe&Mail]

The Egypt Backlash [FP]

Inside Syria - complicated [IRIN]



Human Rights First has created an action to pressure Bahrain to stop the crackdown on its people.  While most actions originally created for the Arab Spring anniversary have passed, this one remains active.  It should be noted that Bahrain is home the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Take Action:

[Update: On March 16 Clinton criticized Bahrain (  However as long as the petition remains open it should be signed, since nothing has changed].



Starting in March 6 2012, the social media started buzzing about Joseph Kony, the repugnant leader of the ruthless Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  The buzz was sparked by a US-based charity called Invisible Children (IC).  For years they have been trying to get Kony captured.  IC decided to make 2012 the year to achieve their goal and used social media to try creating an aware and motivated [primarily US] constituency that would then force politicians to act more deliberately to capture Kony  The centerpiece was a very slick 30 minute video, integrated with social media and celebrities.  It has been the most stunningly successful marketing campaign I have ever seen, and I would be surprised if anyone reading this newsletter has not heard about it!  Since then it has gathered both praise and criticism. 

Due to its widespread awareness at this point, I will simply refer readers to my reaction to it contained in the following blog, based on this newsletter’s fundamental concepts of openness and dialogue:



The current evacuation zone around a nuclear plant is 10 miles.  But Fukushima demonstrated that it needs to be at least 25 miles.  The following petition calls on the U.S. government to extend the zone, as well as create secondary zone:

Take Action:



I always associate the web site with books, even though I know it has long since sold other items.  But until last week I never knew it had been selling whale and dolphin meat (in Japan).  It stopped doing so last week (within certain constraints), but only after an online petition.  I am adding the following action both for its own sake and as I reminder to myself – and perhaps yourself – that even seemingly innocuous-sounding companies can, unseen, grow into areas over cross over lines.

Tell to permanently ban whale, dolphin, and porpoise meat from its sites.




ICC: Historic First Conviction: Congo’s Thomas Lubanga

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has handed down its first verdict, convicting the little known militia leader, Thomas Lubanga, of war crimes (using child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo).  The ICC was created ten years ago as a permanent replacement for the ad hoc tribunals created for such atrocities as Rwanda.  The ideal is that the court: (a) brings a sense of justice for the victims of those convicted; and (b) acts as a deterrent to those who have felt free to terrorize a people.  The hope is that with the first conviction, over a period of time it will build up such a legacy.  The fear is that until other international dynamics fall in line with such ideals, that the ICC will have limited success.  There are also other criticisms of the ICC, which must await a future newsletter.

One year After Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Disaster

Radiation levels inside Fukushima's reactor 2 have reached fatally high levels, and levels of water are far lower than previously thought.  The current radiation levels are so high that even robots cannot enter. This is forcing consideration of new robots and equipment to deal with the lethal levels of radiation, all of which is part of the necessary steps to successfully decommission the reactor.  So stay tuned – this saga is not over.

Former LRA Rebel Graduates from University

[This was written for the February newsletter, and is thus pre-#Kony2012]  The notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has a repugnant record of brutality against civilians, led by Joseph Kony.  The call to end these atrocities has been part of the actions of this newsletter.  And while Kony has not yet been captured and the LRA still has not disbanded (though its current strength has been greatly diminished) it is heartening to see that sometimes a person caught into its repulsive vortex can be rehabilitated:

Supply Chain Abuses of Apple and Other Electronic Companies

Much of our globally interconnected world involves the connections from raw material to finished product.  While a couple of decades ago exposés brought into our vocabulary pejorative words like “child sweatshops” in relation to the garment and related industries, today the revelations pertain more to the technology industry.  Foxconn in China has become a lightning rod for abusive issues, especially since Apple’s iPads are made there (Foxconn also has the same issues for other firms such as Dell and HP).  The New York Times recently ran a series called iEconomy, outlining some of the issues.  The following article includes reference to the NYT piece, but adds another layer, since it comes from FAIR, which dissects how the media adds an additional layer of bias to the hidden or distorted issues.  While the entire issue is quite complex, the article helps reinforce how “responsibility” (and thus opportunity to make substantive change for the better) easily dissipates among the fuzzy dynamics of the consumer, the company, the supply chain (and even possible regulators), and the people desperate for work. 

Letting Apple off the Hook for Labor Abuses [FAIR]

Here is a second link that quickly (but not deeply) shows some of the computer components that are most at fault: 

The Mother Jones iPhone

ZDNet: Apple worker compliance improves and so do Foxconn's margins:

R2P and Humanitarian Challenge

The “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine (R2P) evolved in the 1990s in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.  The genocide made clear that at times states might not protect their civilians but rather target them.  In such situations, under R2P, the onus was placed on the international community to prevent gross human rights abuses.  R2P has been a topic in this newsletter a few times, a belief that internationally has since been cited as a reason to intervene in places like Libya and Syria (even though the stringent criteria of the actual document seldom seem to be raised).

The following report talks of the great “disconnect” that still exists between such concepts and those who try to implement it in some form, and the reality and effects on the ground.  As a young concept, that is not unexpected but the article provides interesting and very specific probes around the issue of implementation and, for example, what ability the local people have in the decision-making.




World Food Crisis Expands

In February, the UN’s food price index rose for the eighth consecutive month, to the highest level since at least 1990.  As a result, since 2010 began, roughly another 44 million people have quietly crossed the threshold into malnutrition, joining 925 million already suffering from lack of food.

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Missed an action email?  An archive is kept at:

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In appreciation and support,

  Rod Downing


“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Oscar Wilde


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