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Sharing Our Story in Vernon
     Pages from the Tell Me a Story magazine produced by Knox Presbyterian Church in Vernon, B.C.
dences many called home.
Knox Presbyterian Church in Ver-
non, B.C., took up the challenge and planned an online and print maga- zine full of stories, pictures, anec- dotes, recipes and poems from both church and community members.
With funds on hand, a summer student with an eye for graphic arts was hired to help put together the magazine and organize the mate- rial received. Several retirement homes in Vernon were gracious in allowing the summer student to in- terview their residents, while some church members even invited the student into their home (adhering to COVID-19 protocols, of course). A family, grieving the loss of their mother, donated photo albums con- taining old black and white photos to help fill the pages of the magazine with nostalgia and special moments in time; in some way, bringing their mother’s memory alive once again.
For the final step of publication, the Session of Knox opted to have a professional printer bind the 80-plus pages, which gave it a professional and polished look. While the publi- cation was distributed online, the elders recognized that for many sen- iors, the old-fashioned print maga- zine was an important way that each par ticipant in the program could cel- ebrate their “few minutes of fame” and share it with family and friends.
Lessons learned
from this project
We Have a Story to Tell: Our story may be the most valuable asset the
church has today. As Christians, we know we have “The Story” to share, but our congregations are full of sen- iors with rich stories of life’s ups and downs, the once-in-a-lifetime mo- ments and even the everyday mo- ments. While “The Story” feeds our faith, the stories of those who sit in our pews remind us of our resilience, persistence, laughter and friendship. Finding creative ways to share the stories of life and to create oppor- tunities to celebrate the wisest and dearest of our congregations serves us well as the people of Christ.
Bringing the Generations Together: One of the unexpected developments of this project was the impact that the stories had on the summer stu- dent. He encountered many things lost from his generation: real film negatives, a copy of the Vancouver Sun from the day “Man Walked on the Moon,” and he learned what a “shivaree” was. He was patient and mannerly as the elderly shared the same story more than once and he watched carefully when he worked in the church offices, observing how we cared for each other in the day- to-day comings and goings at the church.
Many parishioners returned sev- eral times, bringing new stories and photos for the student to consider. In glimpses of the holy, we could see our student become more respectful of the seniors before him, while our seniors were genuinely pleased that someone was interested in what they had to share.
Magazine Becomes Ministry: Our
grant requirements clearly stated that the primary focus of this project was to be community-based, not church-oriented. Yet, by the time of its completion, a spirit had fallen into the pages; relationships had been created, stories and names remem- bered, grief released, family recipes and laughter shared. We could hear whispers as the pages turned: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
As our church wrestles to be- come something new while holding on to the heritage of its past, we have the oppor tunity to gather to- gether the stories of our congrega- tion, our community and our church families. It is these stories that can bind us together and remind us not only of the church we have been, but the church we will become. The potential to create publications with a focus on weddings, the war-years, seasons of church life, and so forth are almost limitless; easily shaped to suit your church family and inter- ests.
Stories are at the heart of the Christian experience. These stories have brought us this far. Where will they take us next? It’s time to “Tell Our Story”!
By the Rev. Dr. Teresa Charlton, Knox Presbyterian Church in Vernon, B.C.
The Tell Me a Story magazine was initially conceived by the congrega- tion of Knox Presbyterian Church in Vernon, B.C., as a feel-good project. The North Okanagan Community Foundation offered grants to help lo-
cal non-profits initiate creative ideas to keep the community engaged and to uplift spirits during COVID-19. Of particular interest was how these projects might impact seniors in positive ways, as the elderly were often most restricted due to health and mobility challenges, along with the regulations of the retirement resi-
    Acting Together through Faith in Uxbridge
 By David Phillips, St. Andrew’s– Chalmers Presbyterian Church in Uxbridge, Ont.
We are fortunate in many ways at St. Andrew’s–Chalmers Presbyterian Church in Uxbridge, Ont. As we de- velop and implement our new Vision Statement, “Acting together through faith we offer care and community to all,” there are two ways in particular where we would like to highlight our good fortune.
First, we were blessed with good luck to be the recipient of a large amount of money to be used at our discretion and, second, the congre-
gation is using it well.
A Growing Together Fund was estab-
lished with very defined criteria. Each year 70% of the gains are available for mission and 30% is available for major church proper ty improvements.
In 2021, there were three major projects: 1) educational suppor t in Guatemala, 2) relief suppor t for Af- ghanistan and 3) financial suppor t for the North Durham Warming Project.
Guatemala: The congregation has supported the Francisco Coll School for over 20 years. However, we wanted to help some students advance past the first six years of education and attend three years of
“high school”—three more years of learning trades and skills to help them in their adult future. We have pledged $10,000 a year for seven years to help with the education of graduates of Francisco Coll to par- ticipate in this next level of education. This program was just implemented in January 2022.
Afghanistan: We have contributed $40,000 to PWS&D for an emer- gency food assistance project. This project is qualified to receive match- ing funds from the Government of Canada and is an ecumenical initia- tive through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, helping the many in need in
A group of internally displaced people in Kabul, Afghanistan, following the takeover by the Taliban, September 2021. PHOTO CREDIT: PWS&D
North Durham Warming Initiative:
Uxbridge has seen an increase in homelessness and those who are at risk of becoming homeless. This ini- tiative addresses the needs of people who are living in their cars or tents over the winter. The total donation is $10,000, which is distributed as re-
quired in $2,500 amounts.
The year 2022 marks the first full
year of implementing our new vi- sion for the congregation and we look forward to seeing what new and creative ways will develop to live out this vision, either through our own programs or through disbursements from the Growing Together Fund.

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