New First United minister Rev. Louise Cumming (right) joins long-time White Rock Christmas Day Dinner organizer Chip Barrett in inviting the community to join the celebration.

White Rock tradition continues with a new face at the table

Registration needed by Dec. 22 for Community Christmas Day dinner

A grand tradition will continue Dec. 25, as White Rock’s Community Christmas Day Dinner returns to the hall of First United Church.

But there’ll be several new faces among welcomers – including First United’s new minister Rev. Louise Cumming, successor to Rev. Joan McMurtry, who retired in March.

Cumming, who assumed her duties in August, said she’s delighted to continue the First United’s long-time tradition of hosting the donation-supported dinner.

“It’s particularly fitting that the church opens its doors on Christmas Day,” she said. “It’s a wonderful tradition and a great way to share Christmas with all kinds of people.”

While it’s open to anyone without other plans on Christmas Day, cut-off for registration this year is Monday (Dec. 22).

And those who plan to attend have a new number to call this year – the church office at 604-531-4850.

Long-time organizer Chip Barrett said pre-registration is needed as soon as possible because the hall size is limited, rides (where necessary) need to be organized and Janet Kozakow, the new chef for the traditional turkey and trimmings feast, needs to know how many to expect for dinner.

The annual event was created more than 30 years ago by former city gardener George Bryant and other like-minded volunteers – including former First United minister Rev. Howard Filsinger – as a symbol of good-fellowship to embrace those who were alone or lonely at Christmas time.

Over the years it has evolved into one of the city’s finer expressions of community – a warm, extended-family celebration bringing together volunteers and people of widely varying ages and circumstances.

Cumming noted she is familiar with former Filsinger’s pioneer work in helping create community-building initiatives.

“For a lot of people who attend First United, social awareness and commitment is key to who they are as a congregation,” she said.

“I also understand a lot of people who come here on Christmas Day come for our Thursday night community dinner – we don’t want to let our friends down.”

Although she comes to the community after serving a congregation in West Kelowna for the past two years – and her first assignment as a minister was in a community near Timmons, Ont. – Cumming isn’t a stranger to the Semiahmoo Peninsula. For some 10 years prior to her work in Kelowna, she served congregations nearby, in the two Langleys.

Cumming said she feels very fortunate to have been assigned to First United.

“I still keep pinching myself – I can’t quite believe I’m living in this area,” she said.

Cumming, who grew up in the Invermere area of the Kootenays, was first ordained a minister close to 30 years ago.

“It was a bit of a departure from what I had been doing before,” she said. “I had mostly been working with people with developmental disabilities – in fact, I’m still involved with a large community in Burnaby.”

Cumming  was inspired to become a minister after meeting Jean Vanier – the Canadian theologian and humanitarian who founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities – and by the principle of inclusivity.

“It’s about paying attention to people on the margins of society; learning to listen and value people regardless of their status in society,” she said.

As part of the Christmas Day celebration, Cumming said she’s also happy to continue a tradition started by McMurtry, contributing her own retelling of the Christmas story.

All of the other usual features of the dinner will be in evidence, Barrett said  – including the visit from Santa, a sing-along of favourite Christmas carols and the welcoming presence of the White Rock Youth Ambassadors to help seat guests.

Although some of the “key people” in organizing the event have retired, it seems to come together serendipitously each Christmas, Barrett added.

“But we will be keeping an eye peeled for people who’ll be happy to step up in future to ensure that the event continues.”

First United Church is located at the corner of Centre Street and Buena Vista.

 

 

Just Posted

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

Coldest Night an event for warm hearts

Sources’ White Rock event one of 130 walkathons across Canada on Feb. 23

Guatemala mission offers hope, health

Peninsula team to visit remote villages, build a home, in Piedra Blanca

MK Delta Lands development another step closer to breaking ground

Delta needs Metro Vancouver’s okay before swapping hundreds of acres and adding it to Burns Bog

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Most Read

l -->