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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Weekly Wire for March 16, 2016

Canada West Mission


Upcoming Events at a Glance


March 18-20 Weekend of World Religions Vancouver

April 15-17 Pastors Retreat Edmonton

April 22-24 Samish Island Arts Retreat

April 25-30 Samish Island Work Week

June 3-5 Camp Genesis (8-9 yrs) Samish Island

June 4-11 World Conference - Independence Missouri

*dates subject to change, always check online or here for the most up to date information.

All camping dates are included at the bottom of the Weekly Wire and on the CWM website.


This Week…in the Weekly Wire!


First Presidency Shares Financial Update

Arts Retreat Samish Island


Hills of Peace Work Camp

Summer Job Opportunity Hills of Peace

Weekend of World Religions – Vancouver

New Community of Christ App

Chilliwack Craft Day

Shopping on

Call for Delegates for World Conference 2016

2016 Camping Dates

Links to our Worldwide Ministries website

We want you to ‘like’ our CWM Facebook Page

Quote of the Week



C H R I S T ’ S  M I S S I O N , O U R  M I S S I O N

March 16, 2016

Dear Faithful Members of the Canada West Mission Centre:

I want to be sure that you hear directly from me about the financial challenges currently facing the church.

I know some of you were able to watch the webcast last week from Ontario which included our Apostle, Art Smith, and our Bishop of Canada, Dar Shepherdson. Art made a very good presentation on the church’s financial situation and also was the primary responder to questions from the audience (from both those present in the same room and from those watching across Canada). The Canada East Mission President, Kerry Richards, and myself, were also on the panel. I was only present because I had coincidentally arrived that afternoon for meetings with Canada East staff from last Thursday through Saturday. If you are interested, a recording of that webcast is available at this link (warning: it is over 2 ½ hours long and it will not all be exactly “scintillating” television!)

The challenges to the church are real and will have a yet-to-be-determined but significant impact on the church’s operations beginning as early as mid-April. In case you are unaware, the church is facing a budget reduction of over $6million (of a total budget of about $24million) beginning with the 2017 fiscal year which starts July 1. Because the vast majority of the church’s expenses are for its people, this means another round of staff cuts on top of the cuts that were experienced in 2015. The best and most accurate information so far available can be found in both video presentations and documents on the church website at: Official Announcements (be sure to scroll down through the top three or four items to see all the relevant information available).

In response to information previously distributed about this situation I have been gratified by the response of congregations and of individual members in Canada West. Individual and family commitments to monthly increases in World Church giving have been made. Congregations have made commitments from either their financial reserves or their regular operations. Thank you! Thank you, to all of you for your responses made out of your love for the church! All of these actions will assist the church in minimizing the impact of this budget challenge. Further commitments need to be brought to the attention of Dar Shepherdson by Tuesday, March 22, to affect the decisions and announcements that are due to be made by the end of this month. Of course, contributions after that date will certainly assist the World Church in all of its continuing ministries and will be greatly appreciated.

The impact of the cuts on the church in Canada generally and in Canada West specifically remains to be seen. It is my expectation that, due to World Church direction in the last round of cuts for the two Canadian mission centres to take over responsibility for at least 80% of the compensation packages of the mission centre presidents beginning in 2016, the impact will be minimized. This element of the Canada West budget was approved at our mission conference in Saskatoon in September.

I have had questions from some of you over the past few weeks since the announcement of this situation from President Stephen Veazey and Acting Presiding Bishop Stassi Cram. It is not possible to adequately answer all of the questions about the origins of this situation. If you wish to send questions to me, I will be happy to do my best to answer them. I also know Art Smith and Dar Shepherdson will be prepared to answer questions that I cannot.

Thank you, again, for your generous responses to-date, and also for your responses yet to come.

Your servant in Christ,

--Steve Thompson

President and Financial Officer



First Presidency Shares Financial Update


The First Presidency and World Church leaders want to share the following financial updates and related information with the church:





July 23 – 30, 2016 Graceland University, Lamoni, IA
**Campers must have completed Grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 to attend**

Camper Information Package will be on our website soon!
(Information subject to change)
You must advise Lisa Neudorf as soon as possible if you are planning to attend
SPECTACULAR with the Canadian delegation.
Required paperwork can be submitted after notification. or 1-877-411-2632, ext. 5


Summer Job Opportunity

Hills of Peace Youth Leader



Hills of Peace Work Camp

photo 5

The Hills of Peace Board invites you to the camp opening weekend on May 14 & 15. At camp opening we clean, repair and setup for the camping season. However, no matter your talents/abilities, we are looking for any volunteers to help. Meals and lodging are provided. We ask that you arrive at camp either the night before (May 13) or early Saturday morning. This allows us to organize jobs and get started quickly. If you have any questions or plan to attend please contact Jae Senga from Saskatoon. Our cook will need to know attendance in advanced, so please let Jae know as soon as possible.


Jae Senga

(Preferred) Email:
Home Phone: 306-974-4253

Hills of Peace Website


Follow the link below to see the

2016 World Conference Resolutions

2016 World Conference


Chilliwack Craft Day



Samish Island Arts Retreat


Returning this year will be:

Andy Porter - Photographer

John Sedgwick - Photographer

Michael Hickey - Writer & Poet

Thom Mayes - Whatcom Symphony

Nan Sargent - Kid's Class

Shonnet Allen - Cook Extraordinaire

Shelley Beer - Cook Extraordinaire

And hopefully each of you!

Bio's and class titles for confirmed classes and teachers will be listed on the Facebook page. Be sure to say yes to the event or like the page for the most up to date info.

Please contact me with questions pertaining to a family/group rate or single day fee.


Stacy Hicks


Canada West Mission Centre is continuing to offer camps and retreats at no charge to ensure that registration fees are not barriers to participation. Donations are accepted to help offset the costs of the events. As you consider your donations this year, please keep in mind that the high exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollars will result in higher costs to the Mission Centre to fund camps and retreats. Thank you for your past and continuing support of these events. Contact Debra Donohue for more information if needed or 1-877-411-2632 ext 4


Community of Christ App for Android and IOS


Community of Christ launched an app for Android and iOS devices. The app is available for download from Google Play and the App Store on iTunes.

With the Community of Christ app, you can read daily spiritual devotions, watch inspiring videos, stay in touch with mission happening around the world, and much more.

The app development was funded through the generous offerings received during the USA National Conference after event expenses were met.


Image result for logo

Here is the  link for “Community of Christ and ” to make purchases and have up to 8.5% returned to the Canadian church.

Learn how it works here Community of Christ Amazon video


Register Today! 

Space is still available


*Please note, if you choose to attend Friday evening only and afterwards discover that you’d like to join us for the whole weekend, your $25 fee will be applied to the weekend fee of $100, provided space is available.

Click below to go to the

Encounter World Religions website

Brian Carwana, Director of the Encounter World Religions Centre


Brian Carwana is the director of the Encounter World Religions Centre, an educational organization designated as a “Gift Of Service To The World” by the Parliament of World Religions. Brian has worked as an educator in religions and cultural diversity for fourteen years and finds religion endlessly fascinating for understanding global issues or individual lives. He has taken thousands of people to places of worship, observed rituals and festivals, and formed lasting relationships with Muslim imams, Jewish cantors, and Wiccan priestesses. Brian also brings a strong academic background with a Masters degree in religion and culture and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto. Audiences repeatedly comment on how his lectures combine great learning with an approach that is enjoyable and accessible. He has delivered conference keynote speeches, lectured at universities, been a visiting scholar in the United States, and taught in varied settings including corporate, churches, hospitals, and police forces. He looks forward to sharing with you the extraordinary worlds of humanity's religious traditions.


Call for Delegates for World Conference 2016

2016 World Conference

If you are planning to attend World Conference June 4-11, 2016, please send me your name so I can add you to the list. or 1-877-411-2632 ext 4


 CWM Facebook Page!

Go to our facebook page to see what’s going on in the CWM

and be sure to ‘like’ us.


Community of Christ website links

Community of Christ Upcoming Events: Visit the Community of Christ Calendar to see upcoming events, links to Daily Prayer for Peace, and Worship Resources.
Community of Christ Current Announcements: See the most current announcements on Community of Christ homepage or on the Announcements page .
Community of Christ Mission Stories:  Mission Stories

The next link is to a great video produced by the Community of Christ that everyone should see.

Community of Christ, What We Offer You Video

To those seeking a spiritual home, Community of Christ is a welcoming, loving, worldwide faith community that values the worth of every person as a child of God, and provides a safe space for you to explore and deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ and each other.

In Community of Christ, you will receive love and support as you discover renewed purpose for your life through compassionate, Christ-like service that ends suffering and fosters justice and peace.


Peace / Justice  --  Human Rights

February 28, 2016

Welcome to this issue from the “In The Forefront” mailing list.  Your profile is listed at the end, along with steps to change it. 

[My apologies for the delay in sending this out; + For some, this is a DUPLICATE of the same email sent within the last day – due to one-time technical issues with my Internet Service Provider].

While this newsletter contains some typical actions, a primary concern this time has been a pervasive sense of fear (and despair) encountered these past many months.  Previously mentioned, fear is a primal emotion and is why we survived as a species – we learned to fear truly fearful situations.  But these disturbing trends need to be raised: (a) Acting directly on the basis of fear (even when genuine) generally makes the whole dynamic worse; and (b) Fear is clearly being manipulated and that always diminishes the possibility for sane choices and outcomes.

If you do not have time for the reflection be sure to consider the action section, focused on preventive genocide support, and on revising the terribly flawed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

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.

ANCHORING 2016: FEAR MUST NOT RULE (Instead, A Well-Anchored Vision)

[Editor: Most of this was written at the beginning of 2016.  I could not get a full newsletter out, but I wanted this published as an opening concern for the year.  To be clear while Part I deals with U.S. politics (though "fear and despair" have global concerns, and Part II will look more at one global topic), it is not written to endorse any party or candidate.  Apart from not knowing positions well enough since I am not American, its value is simply meant as a piece for reflection for whatever value it brings, and regardless of perspective].

Fear and despair have stalked the land (fortunately so have courage, hope and tenacity; a separate topic).  While I could list the simmering conflicts around the world, this section will focus on the dynamics affecting most of this readership (Western world and primarily the U.S., given the global reverberations such responses would have).  [Addendum: Human Rights Watch just produced its annual report, entitled, “Politics of Fear”, reporting on 90 countries].

PART I: The Ominous Symptom of "The Strong Man"

The first fear dynamic surrounds Donald Trump.  The focus is not Trump himself – commentaries abound - but the glimmer of insight arising from Trump’s supporters.  The caricature by some is that Trump’s followers are crazy. I disagree. These people are responding quite normally within the framework of how they view the world. People would not respond that way in such numbers for so long unless it really was grounded in something deeply distressing.

In that context I feel I am witnessing an extremely disturbing phenomenon with the following broad contours:

a. There exists a substantial seam of society whose sense of marginalization / disenfranchisement is so deeply felt that the normal recourse is considered futile. Thus the only viable option they see is the archetypical “strong man” who will make things right.

b. While this sense can have layers and many factors and even be illusory, in this case its primary source is a disconnect from the American dream (defined as the opportunity for meaningful work which results in societal progress and standing). Part of it is the debilitating widening income gap.  Part of it is an “elite Washington” - either political party - disconnected from normal people's reality.  Part of it is fueled and even manufactured by hidden money (see 3-i below). Part of it is the continued globalizing trends (oversea jobs, reduced sovereignty; see TPP).  In such dynamics there is a sense of loss of control and thus easily a diminishment of one’s sense of worth.

c. Futile normal recourses: (i) Government is part of the elite and is lobbied and shaped by the elite - corporations, etc. (for example, Koch Brothers' "Dark Money" [CBC], and the resulting right shift that disgusts traditional conservatives [Patheos]); (ii) In a reverse “Occupy Wall Street” sense (where OWS was a great groundswell which arose from the 2008 economic collapse, yet accomplished nothing, zero), the rage against the machine is seen as futile.  Thus the only recourse is the “strong man.”

d. A side-effect is that the thin veneer of civilization erodes, and thus racism and xenophobia increase. It also seems to bring a diminished desire for dialogue, engagement with the other and empathy.

In smaller degrees the above dynamics have played out over the years.  But this time the dynamics are potentially seismic in nature.  Three points:

1. For the first time in my life I feel I am witnessing parallels in North America to what gave rise to the “strong men” of the past like Hitler and Mussolini. To be clear my entire focus in not on the strong men nor suggesting similarities (I find those claims quite wanting; although I find Trump’s statements often reckless and inflammatory), but rather entirely focused on the ferment beneath;

2. While I do not think this will be a tipping point, the fermentation will continue until the underlying issues are addressed, specifically until those areas of well-being that have withered, are restored;

3. For all the wonderful people who are attempting to tilt dynamics in sound directions, or who still uphold the core value of dialogue, listening and empathy, may you remain steadfast. This will lessen any pendulum swing and will reinforce or more quickly re-anchor solid societal grounding.

For anyone wanting an introduction to the notion of the hidden layers of power and what some consider the gutted notion of democracy in America, Sheldon Wolin’s (Princeton prof., died 2015) Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism work is briefly explored in Inverted Totalitarianism [TruthDig]

While many people warn of the demise of any form of substantive democracy, others point to some aspects that can start to strengthen democratic tendencies.  The hope here is that this is not a cache-22 limit on human aspirations - this list does deal with the rather intractable need to devolve power - but rather will be seen a century from now simply as a particularly thorny epoch.  A brief list includes:

  1. Get unbridled money out of political campaigning; create transparency in lobbying.
  2. Address the financial systems still unchanged after the 2008 financial crisis.
  3. Address the widening income gap - its chasm has become life-stifling and life-distorting.
  4. Provide robust oversight that can establish an appropriate surveillance balance between truly threatening activity and personal privacy.

In the end, the high drama may fizzle, normal political discourse may return for the time being.  But without change to the disturbing undercurrents, the “strong man” catastrophe will remain waiting for the next person able to capitalize in a twisted fashion to the genuinely disturbing undercurrents.

[To comment on this section, please use the original blog].

PART II: Fear and ISIS

An essay on the overall topic of ISIS (or sometimes preferably called Daesh) will be posted in the near future.  This section will provide a brief summary, related to fear.

A. Overall Anchoring Strategy:

As noted a year ago in the newsletter, bombs and bullets (and intelligence gathering and other tactics) may reduce some immediate threat, but they cannot dispel an idea that has gained such deadly traction.  For that one needs the long-term classic nonviolent strategy of strengthening the reasonable voices on all sides (practically it also means such things as cutting the source of their funding, etc.).

In fact in the upcoming longer article, I make the claim we are dealing with the most potent type of idea – vision.  Further, until one can see the appeal and moral nature (albeit in 7th century terms) of the vision that underlies ISIS, one’s effectiveness will be lessened.  Of course, that underlying vision has been contorted and grotesquely compromised by ISIS, and that is what we see in the media.  So many differing dynamics – the better our understanding, the better the outcome. Stay tuned.

B. Legitimate Fears Versus Distorted and Manipulated Fear

The goal of Daesh is to establish and maintain a caliphate.  People living in any land directly targeted by Daesh (Syria and Iraq; plus initiatives in Libya, etc.) have justified fear several orders of magnitude greater than any other.

In sum, most of what remains are at best slivers of legitimate concern which then become magnified via unintentional distortion or sheer manipulation.  What most often happens is that either the slivers are completely dismissed or the resulting ballooned concerns are taken as reality.  The latter resulted in almost 50% of Americans in 2015 feeling at least somewhat worried that someone in their family would be a victim of terrorism [Gallup].  The Washington Post indicates that one is more likely to be killed by falling furniture, thus over-worrying by over one million-fold.  Part of the astounding disconnect is psychological – ‘worry’ is linked to ‘control’.  Someone driving a car is in control and thus feels unlikely to be killed, even though 32,000 Americans were killed last year in car accidents.  The concern here is that such hyper-worry percolates to the political level and can result in terrible strategies and decisions.

The alternative is to sift through all aspects to find the best anchoring.  An example of what to expect in the upcoming article is found in Correcting Distortions Toward Muslims, written in 2014 and focused solely on Western attitudes towards Muslims and a few of the disconnects.


Preventive actions are essential to lessen the morass and horrors that occurs when tensions turn to conflicts and end up caught in multiple layers of self-interest and geopolitical implications.  At its worst it can result in the form of paralysis that allows the genocidal dynamics that we witnessed in Darfur and yet can still not resolve.

As previously mentioned in this newsletter, there has been some elementary work done on preventive measures.  But such work will always crawl along until as a society we back these early stages with substantial support.  The following U.S. bipartisan bill is encouraging movement in that direction.

Take Action (US Citizens only):
Support the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act


The TPP is a continuation of a type of international trade agreement that can sound good on the surface (“Who can be against increasing our country’s trade?”) but also can feed into the unease mentioned above in Part I.

The most disturbing aspects are:

a. Its secretive negotiations among select corporate elites allowed 600 lobbyists to see or draft the text while both US Congress and Canadian governments were kept in the dark.  It also completely lacked the robust set of participants that make for sound agreements.

b. The dispute mechanism can override national sovereignty.  I have worked for years in business.  The assumption was always that business assumes the risk, otherwise don’t go into business.  Yet the TPP transfers much of the risk onto governments.  Once a deal is signed then if something comes up – water levels drop or you want to raise the minimum wage – if it affects the company’s profit, they can sue for compensation.

c. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and others feel these agreements are part of what is leading to the hollowing out of the middle class, again feeding the discontent of Part I.

The alternative is not protectionism but simply a deal that is not so skewed to the large corporations and the economic elites.

While the countries have voted for the TTP, nothing happens until it is ratified by enough countries.  Therefore please consider taking action.

Take Action:
   Canada: Tell the government what you think



Tech Companies Failing Child Labour

This newsletter has followed “conflict minerals” such as coltan, but cobalt was never on the list. It has now been identified as a severe child labour issue by Amnesty International & Afrewatch:
Cobalt Mines for Tech Companies Using Child Labour

The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2015

I have followed the work of the Greater Good  (U. Berkeley) for ten years when they first started reporting on the science of compassion, generosity, happiness—what they call “the science of a meaningful life”.  While intrigued I found the work not mature enough.  But ten years later their research is acquiring ever more nuance and sophistication. Thus I feel comfortable introducing the work that is being done in these fields.

These nuances are clearly reflected in this year’s list of the “Top 10 Insights from the Science of a Meaningful Life” - the fourth such list.  Indeed, many of this year’s entries could be described as “Yes, but” insights: Yes, as prior findings suggest, being wealthy seems to make people less generous, but only when they reside in places with high inequality. Yes, pursuing happiness makes you unhappy, but only if you live in an individualistic culture. And so on. The caveats and qualifications abound.

In addition they speak of the effects of concepts such as awe, gratitude, and how to make inroads on seemingly unbridgeable divides, etc.
Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life”

Chocolate Ratings

Fourteen companies rated according to child and other labour standards plus whether organic and also GMO status.


Canada West Camping and Event Calendar


March 18-20 Weekend of World Religions Vancouver

April 15-17 Pastors Retreat Edmonton

April 22-24 Samish Island Arts Retreat

April 25-30 Samish Island Work Week

June 3-5 Camp Genesis (8-9 yrs) Samish Island

June 4-11 World Conference - Independence Missouri

June 13 Samish Island Work Day

June 17-19 Young Adult Retreat Hills of Peace

July 3 - 8 CWM Youth Camp Hills of Peace

July 9 - 14 Family Reunion Hills of Peace

July 15 - 19 Junior Camp (8-12 yrs) Hills of Peace

July 16-23 Family Reunion Samish Island

July23-30 Spectacular Graceland University

July 24-30 Camp Kluane (girls 12-14 yrs) Samish Island

July 31-Aug 6 Camp Chimacum (boys 12-14 yrs) Samish Island

August 7-13 Camp Kimtah (15-18 yrs) Samish Island

August 6-7 Nurturing Spirit Retreat Hills of Peace

August 14-20 Camp Mungai (10-11 yrs) Samish Island

August 28- September 2 Singles Reunion Samish Island

Sept 2-4 Canada West Mission Conference – Ribstone AB

Sept 23-25 Men’s Retreat Hills of Peace

Sep 30–Oct 2 Women's Retreat Chilliwack

October 28-30 Singles Retreat Samish Island

Note: Hills of Peace Spiritual Retreat and Samish Island Adult Reunion

cancelled for 2016 due to World Conference

Dates are subject to change, please register early


Quote of the Week

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