West Point Grey United Church
Oct 08, 2023

What We Are Thankful For

2 Corinthians 9:6–15

Ping Lan : 

Today is Canada’s Thanksgiving and I’d like to share my faith journey with you. My first time reading the Bible was in 2004. I wanted to learn English with my American  friend Jennifer. When we were discussing what kind of material to learn, she  recommended and offered me this Bible. But it is a pity we only learned the first chapter  of Genesis before she moved away. The Bible was thereafter shelved but it sparked my  interest. 

In 2009, I met Joy Wang, the mother of my daughter’s classmate. She warmly invited  me to join her Bible study group, so I retrieved the Bible from the bookcase and began  to study once a week. I can’t remember what we learned, but Joy’s willingness to help  others and positive life attitude inspired me, and also resolved some doubts in my life at  that time. The study group only lasted a year because Joy moved to Beijing. The Bible  was once again shelved. 

My family moved to Vancouver in the summer of 2015. One evening, my husband and I  walked to this church looking for the location of our Strata Council’s AGM. The council  usually rent the church fellowship room for the AGM. Yulien crossed the street and  greeted us warmly. She probably thought we were looking for a church. After a brief  introduction, we made an appointment to meet each other at the church at 10:30 on  Sunday morning. Of course, the following Sunday I went to the church as promised to  Yulien, which was the first time I stepped into the church in my life. I was introduced to  Linda, Val( our former pastor) and Dorothy… I participated in many church activities,  almost never missed the Sunday worship service, and also went to Israel with the  members of the church… But I didn’t really think about “baptism” until the winter of 2019.  One day, while I was chatting with my good friend Yuki, she suddenly asked me “Have  you been baptized?” “No.” I said. “Why? I think you should be baptized. “Just a simple  word which kept popping into my head for the rest of the day was ” baptized. “I really  think God flipped the switch in me in that instant. A few days later, while riding in Hyuk’s  car to a church event, I told him I wanted to be baptized. So on January 8, 2020, I was  baptized in the church in your presence, and as soon as I said my first words “I do”, I  began to cry until the whole service was over. My husband asked me, “What are you  thinking when you are baptized, you crying so much ?” “Nothing. My mind went blank .” 

Today, when I recall every bit of my journey, I am so emotional. 20 years is such a long  time. All my friends… Jennifer, Joy, Yulien, Linda, Yuki… are like lights illuminating my  way forward. I’m grateful for everyone I’ve met along the way. I am grateful for our  church for accepting me. Finally I am home.

Lita & Arn Padgett

——- Arn and I are Thankful for our beloved families and friends, here in BC and  Ontario. They are our strongest advocates, our constant source of joy and inspiration. 

——- We are Thankful for the beautiful memories of our Angels up in Heaven… both  our beloved parents, siblings, our young nieces… all gone too soon. 

—— We are Thankful for Canada’s continued work towards justice and reconciliation  with our First Nations sisters and brothers. 

——- My family, the Nacion family, is Thankful to Canada, who in the 1970’s opened its  immigration doors to medical professionals and their families. My parents, siblings, and I  were sponsored by my Aunt, an RN, and oldest sibling, a Med Tech. My beloved parents were already retired but decided to move our family out of the Philippines  because of the dictator Marcos and his horrific martial law. We received our Canadian  citizenship over 40 years ago and it was one of the best days of our lives! Canada is the  greatest country with its democratic government, universal health care, cultural  diversity, tolerance, stricter gun controls, and spectacular landscapes. 

—— We are Thankful for our West Point Grey United Church for the tireless  commitment of its many dedicated staff and volunteers, for its strong sense of being an  essential part of a huge, loving family, for its steadfast love and support for the  2SLGBTQ+ community. 

I have received permission from our wonderful Cathie Perry to read part of her most  heartfelt email to me from last August’s Pride Parade: 

It was just such a warm and loving environment with people cheering us on the way.  The United Church’s lead banner read “We are all made in God’s image: beautiful!” And  I noticed some people in the crowd getting teary when they saw it and some people  were putting their hands on their hearts and saying Thank You.” 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Edwina Picon

“I am thankful for a church that always welcomes me with open arms. I am thankful for a  country that let me in from the USA when Trump was elected 2016. I am thankful for the  friends who have supported me through the tough times and celebrated with me during  the good times. I am thankful for the opportunity to join voices with others in making  beautiful music. I am thankful for the warm embrace of community and the chance to  contribute to something bigger than myself. I am thankful for our affirming status and  our commitment to love openly and not discriminate. I am thankful for the acceptance  and love that this church family provides and I am even more thankful to get to be a part  of that love.” Thank you and have a great rest of your week! 

Karen Hunter : 

I was asked to say a few words about what WPGUC means to me on this beautiful  Thanksgiving Sunday. I thought to myself….Where do I begin to explain how important  this church is to me? 

So why not start in the beginning. I went back to the church records and found my  parents names listed as becoming members of WPGUC on October 13, 1963. I was  around 11 months old at this time. I was Christened in this church when I was a baby,  confirmed, otherwise know as a Profession of Faith on April 11, 1976 and have been a member of WPGUC all of my life. 

Growing up as a child I attended Sunday School and sang in the children’s choir. Many  of the children I attended Sunday School with I still keep in touch with to this day. We  had a very active social club at the church, called the “Couple’s Club”. It was made up  of families, couples and even those who were single in our church. Each month we  would have a social event, perhaps it was bowling, dinner at the Pink Pearl restaurant in  Chinatown arranged by Angus Mew or the yearly Progressive Dinner in which we went from one house to another to have salads, soup, a main course and dessert. Then there  was the annual fundraiser, the Rummage Sale, in which all of the church members  would pitch in to make this a great event at WPGUC. People would attend the  Rummage Sale from all over Vancouver! 

WPGUC is my second home. All of the church members, who I still remember as a  child, were and still are my family. All of you are my family too…my church family. I  thank God for WPGUC and my church family each day.

Jean Leach

Thanksgiving – the definition from the New Shorter Dictionary is a celebration marked  with religious services, held on an expression of gratitude to God. 

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is a National Holiday held on the second Monday in  October. We are celebrating Thanksgiving today, October 8th, 2023, here in our church. On October 8th, 1966, John and I were married. Fifty-seven years have gone by, and  fron that union, we have been blessed with two amazing daughters, and they in  children, I believe grandchildren were a priceless gift. Grandchildren can be hoped for,  but you cannot ask for them or hint that you want them; you have to be given them.

Thanksgiving is when we say thank you to God for all that we have received food,  shelter, family, and our country Canada. It is a time to count our many blessings and say  thank you to God.