Draft for Approval by Congregation — April, 2020
Castlegar United Church is a single point, Affirming Congregation with a core of very active, long term members. Our occupations are wide ranging providing a mix of people with multiple skills, talents and interests. Our spiritual journeys are diverse, and we strive for acceptance and understanding within our community.
Worship is a vital part of our church life. We generally follow the Lectionary on Sunday mornings led by the minister who is supported by the Worship Committee. Sermons have generally been a 20 minute reflection by the minister, who has incorporated the use of short documentaries, YouTube clips, powerpoints, object lessons and dialogue with the congregation and guests.
The congregation is invited to submit prayer requests verbally. Volunteers read scripture, take the offering and read the Minute for Mission. Children participate at the beginning of each service by lighting candles and often getting an object lesson from the minister. At the end of the service the children re enter and offer their crafts to the congregation during the offering.
On the last Sunday of the month we have a “Child Within” service in which the sermon is replaced by an activity led by the minister in the adjacent lounge. Those not wishing to leave the sanctuary remain while our pianist plays classical pieces to meditate by.
Our paid pianist and choir director assist the minister in choosing hymns from Voices United and More Voices for Sunday services, and directs our weekly choir practices. The choir presents an anthem periodically and adds a strong voice to the hymns on Sunday mornings.
We utilize three large video screens on which a volunteer projects responsive readings, prayers, hymns and power points. Those with hearing aids benefit from the hearing loop in the sanctuary. The minister uses a wireless mic in addition to hand held mics.
Average Sunday attendance is 30 – 40 people – mostly seniors with a small group of young families.
Our spirits are nurtured during worship as we hear the scriptures, sing the praises, partake of the sacraments, and are challenged by the reflection. We gain focus on our mission of becoming the body of Christ, and literally His hands and feet in our community.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND SOCIAL JUSTICE:
Our church members are generally well known within the broader community, as many have lived here a long time and are active in a variety of community organizations which promote the social justice issues which are at the core of our Christian beliefs.The United and Anglican churches were instrumental in starting the local Thrift store over 50 years ago, and people from our church continue to volunteer regularly. Our share of their profits is a significant addition to our income. The church also supports and volunteers at the weekly Soup Kitchen, the food bank and their activities. The congregation also provides financial and volunteer support for Camp Koolaree, a United Church camp on Kootenay Lake 10 km north of Nelson. Regular financial support is made to M&S and numerous community organizations.
We currently offer our church building for use by the Brownies/Guides, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Junior Community Choir and other musical groups for a nominal fee. We rent a large room with an adjacent yard to a local Day Care Center. Periodically we offer our building for use by speakers and groups presenting information and dialogue on current social issues.
Our minister, with the help of volunteers, leads a group called the Un-Church once a month. This group consists of 15 – 20 young families and elders who gather in our building for a meal and a message, mixed with singing, activities and stories. “It’s a unique experience to: uncover, understand, and unwind.” This group, with financial support of a Pacific Mountain Region grant, has rented Camp Koolaree for a three night retreat for the past two summers.
The minister invites anyone from the congregation and community to join him for a chat weekly at a local coffee shop.
We also assist the minister on a rotational basis in leading worship services at the local seniors facilities.
Our current minister is serving as the Padre for the Castlegar Legion.
FAITH FORMATION AND CHRISTIAN EDUCATION:
Worship services, children’s time on Sunday mornings, a weekly Adult Bible Study led by the minister, and confirmation membership classes as needed help us develop our personal faith relationship with God. These are the formal vehicles for our congregation, but interacting with each other and the community at large encourages our faithfulness through living examples.
Our congregation consists of individuals with strong leadership skills who work with the minister in carrying out the work of the church. New members are invited to participate in leadership roles, willing to share the load. We govern by consensus, and rely on our minister to inspire and keep us focused on our vision.
We have an active lay Pastoral Care Team which is supported and fostered by the minister. Team members visit those in need of support during times of crisis and bereavement. This helps to build and support ongoing relationships within the congregation. Team members refer those felt to need professional support to the minister or appropriate community resources. Less formally, we connect with each other at coffee time after Sunday services, by phone or through personal visits. Our minister invites members and non-members to join him casually at a local coffee shop each week.
The congregation and the minister are encouraged to recognize the needs of the church and to step up and work to meet those needs. We also recognize that no one can be expected to do more than they are able. The Ministry and Personnel Committee works closely with the minister to encourage a realistic workload, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Professional development for the minister is budgeted for. The minister has ecumenical involvement in the community and contact with other United Church clergy. The congregation is encouraged to share the workload to avoid burnout.
We operate under an Official Board structure which has recently been streamlined. The minister is expected to attend all Board meetings, and provide support and coordinate activities with the worship committee and personal faith formation initiatives. . Members of the Board make decisions on how the work of the church is to be achieved. Major decisions are brought forward at congregational meetings.
We have a secretary who is paid 6 hours a week to deal with bulletins and creating a weekly newsletter which is emailed to those who sign up for it. This keeps subscribers informed of church activities, next week’s scripture readings and links to activities of the broader church and community. Our secretary works closely with the minister and members of committees and together they form the communication hub of the congregation. The minister has taken on the task of grant writing for the Un-Church and future innovative programs.
OUR CHURCH BUILDING:
We moved into our current church building in 2003 after purchasing it from the local Baptist congregation. The building not only meets our needs but also supports numerous community groups. The sanctuary has been equipped with mounted projectors, large screens and a hearing loop. The downstairs can be accessed by stairs and a powered chair lift where there is a gym, large hall and kitchen and a variety of meeting rooms.
The minister’s office is a 10×12 foot room with a bright window and has a connecting door to the secretary’s office. It is also adjacent to a lounge area, with an adjoining small kitchen. The lounge is used for after church coffee gatherings, small group luncheons, adult and children’s activities during church services along with church and community meetings. It is very much the center of our church life.
Castlegar is a small town of about 9,000 people located on the banks of the Columbia River at its junction with the Kootenay River. It is a good place to raise a family, having a wealth of recreational activities and four distinct seasons.
Summer months are warm, with temperatures commonly in the low 30’s. There are numerous lakes and streams nearby for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and other water sports. Biking and hiking are popular on the numerous trails as well as the nearby Syringa Provincial Park. We are close to the TransCanada Trail, world class mountain biking trails, a renowned 18 hole golf course and a popular riverside family park. During the winter there are two excellent ski resorts within an hour’s drive – Red Mountain in Rossland and Whitewater in Nelson, as well as an extensive X-country skiing network 30 minutes away west along Highway 3. Backcountry skiing and snowmobiling are also common pursuits for local enthusiasts.
Ours is a stable community with a pulp mill, two sawmills and Selkirk College as major employers. Many people commute to nearby Trail for work at Teck Metals large smelter operation. Although young people often leave after high school for education and job opportunities, many are starting to return, bringing new energy to the community.
Although the Kootenays are known for mining and forestry, Castlegar has a unique flavor due to its Doukhobour heritage. These early settlers from Russia brought their traditions and lifestyle with a strong focus on peace, farming, simplicity and vegetarian cuisine which has had a lasting influence on the community. These attributes are reflected in various programs now offered at Selkirk College and the MIR Centre for Peace. The Doukhobour’s Brilliant Cultural Center is a wonderful addition to our regular communities of faith.