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

PSA ad campaign targets young women involved with gangs

Crime Stoppers campaign encourages girls to reject being lured into the gangster lifestyle

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

‘We’ve heard you,’ says Surrey mayor before public gets say on draft budget

Mayor says city received 116 letters, majority of letters about ‘postponement’ of Cloverdale ice rinks

Delta man charged in relation to North Delta thefts

Taranjot Singh Grewal, 40, of Delta, is facing five theft-related charges

Row, row, row your car, down a Surrey road

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining outside

Heavy rain, wind cause power outages in White Rock

Chance of showers throughout the evening

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

A vehicle incident has closed Highway 1 in both directions

Inquest scheduled into death of man in prison for gang-related killing

Gurwinder Mann, 39, died in Abbotsford while serving life sentence

UPDATE: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Flooding shuts down Columbia Station on Expo Line

TransLink says riders will be bused to connecting Expo and Millennium Line stations

Most Read

l -->