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What could spiritual community look like for those who have journeyed beyond a system of beliefs?

Explore this question and much more at Ever Wonder…an expansive spirituality conference

Ever Wonder...

Ever wonder…what ethical compass do we have for navigating these times in which we live?

Ever wonder…what humanists, spiritual but not religious, atheists, and progressive Christians have in common?

Ever wonder…how to nurture an expansive spirituality rooted in values rather than beliefs?

Ever wonder…what teachings the universe story might hold for us?

 

Ever Wonder is a conference for spiritual seekers who are open to wisdom from many sources, eager to learn from one another and willing to explore beyond the boundaries of belief systems.

Join us to experience meaningful music, inspiring spiritual gatherings, informative theme presentations, panel discussions, and workshops along with opportunities to have meaningful conversations with others exploring values based spirituality.  We will also celebrate the work of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity (2004-2016) and explore ways to cultivate an expansive spiritual network to serve us now.

Afternoon Sessions Saturday & Sunday

Theme Presentation
Gretta Vosper
Saturday, September 2nd from 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM (Lecture with Q & A)

Shopping with the Nones

As those identifying as having no religious affiliation (the “Nones”) continue to grow in numbers, early adopter organizations work to create communities that welcome them. Alan Cooperman, head of the religion department at Pew Research, has claimed that the god of the Nones is “shopping.” But this group is still statistically unstudied. What they want and what it is they are seeking, if anything, is relatively unknown. Do we have any responsibility toward the “nones”? How can we predict what it is we could offer, if anything? And how are we challenged to offer anything that might support them?

 

Free Public Lecture
Gretta Vosper
Sunday, September 3rd from 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM (Lecture with Q & A)

Ever Wonder if We’re Dead Yet?

We become interested, sometimes even obsessed, with our legacies as we pass mid-life and reflect upon what it is we will hand off to those we leave behind. Organizations, whose legacies can be far more profound than those of individuals, must do this as well, especially as they experience decline. What is the legacy of the liberal church? And what is it that we can do to ensure that what we hand off to those who follow us is the best we have to offer?

1. (Sunday Only) Is There a Place for Non-Theists in the United Church of Canada? 

In an environment where a minister has faced a review and a formal hearing for her theological views, and where a church in midst of institutional change is dealing with new and untested processes, what does the future look like for those who don’t subscribe to the traditional, but who have evolved theologically? A panel will explore the theological climate of the denominational leadership, what inclusion (or not) might look like, the implications of Gretta Vosper being placed on the Discontinued Service List (Disciplinary) and the future of congregations and leaders exploring non-theism. A panel of presenters explore these questions from various perspectives. Presenters: Fabian Jennings, Margaret-ann Armour

2. Welcome Home: How The ‘Great Story Of Our Unfolding Universe’ Is Shaping My Spirituality?

Presenter, Margaret Hetherington ‘The Great Story’ as it is sometimes called, with its deep time, amazing realities, and ever evolving nature has become my story too, connecting me with all that is. Oneness, belonging, wonder, gratitude, awakening, growth, resiliency, respect are becoming integral to my journey, as are spiritual practices that help me remember my connectedness with the universe. This journey as earth and universe dwellers is rich for some of us; tragic and deadly for vast numbers of other humans, other species and the earth’s well-being. We are not guaranteed an authority and a dominance as the old story of theism claimed. How can we become fully human, free and responsible, as we turn our attention to the religious issues of our day: to care for the earth in its fullest need? In our ‘belonging’ that makes us inseparable from all that is; what meaning can we find in a fragility that depends on our willingness or not to accept our full humanity. What does it all mean to you?

3. (Saturday Only) Toward Spiritual Gatherings: Expanding our Experience 

Providing a consistent and theologically unified experience for congregations can be a difficult transition. Many speak about progressive ideas and understandings in study groups but then experience language, liturgy and music on Sundays that reinforce traditional and sometimes unhelpful images and actions. Learn some strategies and discover resources from congregations that have transitioned from worship to spiritual gatherings that express a more expansive spirituality in music, prayer and language. Presenters: Nancy Steeves, Christopher New, Charles Bidwell

4. The Ancient Connection: Values-Based Wisdom in the Jesus Tradition

From its earliest writings, the Jesus tradition offers a values-based wisdom.  The roots of what became Christianity was an expansive spirituality shaped and rooted in Jewish and Greek philosophical traditions; and rather than being formed around belief, dogma or creed, much of what we know of this early tradition centered in a new way of living and a practical experiential spirituality. Explore some of these values-based roots from the heart of the Jesus tradition and discover their relevance for today. Leadership: Bruce Miller

5. Rewilding Spirituality

For many, our lifestyle and social structures are alienated from the natural world.  We need a revolution in how we think, what we do with what we know and how we act.  Our planetary crisis is primarily a spiritual crisis. This session will begin a journey of ‘Rewilding’ of land, soul and society beyond traditional environmentalism and sustainability.  Come and learn together how to maximize the power of nature to enhance our minds, our personal and societal vibrancy, and our resilience. Presenters: Sherry Ann Chapman

6. (Saturday only) “Occupying Spirituality: Activism, Solidarity, Beliefs, Values”

Are you a theist, a post theist, a humanist, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Jew, a mystic, a Muslim, a pagan, a Quaker, a First Nation’s elder? Ever wonder whether that may not really matter? Ever wanted to cry out:

  • “Hey, don’t lay your theology or a-theology on me. Just tell me what you value: justice? Love? Compassion? The environment? That will tell me all I need to know about your beliefs; about the wisdom of your faith or even the wisdom of your lack of one.”

If you’ve felt that, come and tell all the rest of us who may have felt it too. Come join a smudge and talking circle guided by First Nations friends. We’ll pass an eagle feather and share our wisdom as we seek to know how we can reach across spiritual and religious differences – not to cancel them – but to grow in our power to make real our shared values. A solidarity that doesn’t require making “the other” the same. Presenters: Carola Cunningham,  Fabian Jennings

Accommodations

1. Holiday Inn Conference Centre Edmonton South
4485 -Gateway Blvd. Edmonton, AB T6H 5C3
P: (780) 431-1100 : F: (780) 437-3455; Reservations: www.holidayinn.com/edmontonsouth

Rates are based on double occupancy

Standard Queen Room: $109.00 Deluxe King Room: $119.00
Block reservations ends July 31st. Please quote SSUC’s name for negotiated rate. Includes breakfast for 2 adults. Children under 12 free of charge. Pool.

2. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Edmonton South -Walking distance to SSUC
Standard 2 Queen $129
Single Queen $119
Free parking, wifi

2440 Calgary Trail Edmonton, AB T6J 4R1 (780) 440-5000
Private Booking and Payment
30 Doubles: /night; 10 singles /night.
Reservations@hiexedmsouth.com ; 1-877-660-8550; Direct line booking: (780) 784-4802 (Louisa)
Free Breakfast 6:30 -9:30 a.m. week days; 6:00 -9:30 week ends
Free Wifi., Parking, Pool & Hot Tub, Pet Friendly on Main Floor. No room service. Block reservation:ends July 31st, 2017. Please quote SSUC’s name.

3. SSUC Billet Options (no cost)

Contact SSUC @ info@smsuc.com

Transportation

Co-op Cab (780) 425-2525 Flat Rates: $41 from the Airport; #30 to the Airport Co-op Cab: call “BK” @ 780-9356900
LRT Airport Bus every 30 minutes for $5

Uber

SSUC pickups available from Century Park LRT to shuttle to any accommodation.

Meet our Speakers

Speakers

Nancy Steeves

SSUC Minister

After more than a decade of practicing law, Nancy joined the ministry team at SSUC. In a rich collaboration with this congregation, she completed her Doctor of Ministry degree at Chicago Theological Seminary focusing on “Setting a Spacious Table.” The discoveries which began in this project continue to evolve as we explore ways of gathering as spiritual communities that are congruent with an expansive spirituality. Nancy celebrates being part of a diverse community of seekers who honor experience, seek inspiration from a variety of sources, are committed to greater social justice and strive to live the values of our deepest and highest humanity.

Christopher New

Minister, Musician, Composer

Chris is in team ministry at SSUC where among other things, he interprets expansive spirituality for children and youth by creating programming and curriculum. He writes new music for congregational singing that expresses our deepest spirituality for the 21st century regardless of creed, tradition or custom. His song book, “Our Highest Values”, was published in 2016.

Gretta Vosper

Minister, Author, Atheist

Her best selling books include With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe in 2008, and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief. She has also published three books of poetry and prayers. She has been a minister with West Hill United Church in Toronto since 1997. Gretta Vosper is also founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. Her work bridges Progressive Christianity and atheism exploring beyond the boundaries of Christian thought.

Scott Kearns

Musician, Member of West Hill United

Scott is a composer, improviser and all-around busy man. As music director of West Hill United, he’s written many pieces of music for Sundays and special occasions that he has gathered in a collection called “The Wonder of Life” and is now compiling a second collection. Scott has an M.Div. and is completing a doctoral program in theological studies at York University. When Scott isn’t making music or researching theological issues, he’s working as a registered social worker at a long term care facility.

    Karen Lumley Kerr

    President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists

    Karen Lumley Kerr is an atheist activist who is in her 4th year as the President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists, and is co-founder of the provincial wide AB Secular Conference. She’s actively involved in the secular movement, Dying with Dignity Edmonton Chapter, APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning), Alberta Pro-choice groups and LGBT rights activism. She is also a member of the Edmonton Interfaith Center for Education and Action.
    This mother of three holds a diploma in Music Performance from Grant MacEwan University.

    FABIAN JENNINGS

    Growing up in a politically aware family predisposed me to grapple with the responsibility of social engagement from a young age.
    My academic background is in philosophy, and I have enjoyed significant involvement in four denominations – Catholic, Unitarian, Quaker, and United Church. That has fed my ongoing reading, conversations, affiliations and actions over the decades, and led me to a post-theist world view, which I will share as a conference panelist.

      Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour

      Associate Dean, Diversity at the University of Alberta

      Educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Alberta, Margaret-Ann Armour is Associate Dean of Science, Diversity, University of Alberta. Her research was on the management of hazardous chemical waste. She encourages women into science and engineering and chairs the WinSETT Centre Board. She is active within the UCC and is chair of the Board of St. Stephen’s College. Awards include a 3M Fellowship, Montreal Medal of the CIC, Order of Canada and six honorary degrees.

        Margaret Hetherington

        Margaret Hetherington since childhood has found encouragement in life and the United Church to ask questions and to grow. This led her to a BA (Sociology) at the U of A and theological learning and MRE at Covenant and Emmanuel Colleges, Toronto in preparation for diaconal ministry.
        Marg’s official ministries were at Washington United, Scarborough ON, St. Andrew’s Lacombe, and Trinity United, Edmonton. Her mostly unofficial ministry was teaming with partner, the late Rev. Bob Hetherington, on a rich 48 year journey of ever-evolving Christian faith.

          Lisa Stein

          Professor

          Lisa Stein is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Alberta. She has been a member of the Westwood Unitarian Universalist Congregation for five years. Although her spiritual beliefs do not include a supernatural entity, Lisa finds the UU message to be one of tolerance, hope, and service. She began attending Westwood to bring a moral and spiritual dimension to her children’s lives in hopes that they grow up in service to the world.

            Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson

            Doctoral Theology Student

            Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson is a doctoral theology student interested in the diminishing line between theism and nontheism. Formerly a board member of the Humanist Society in the US, she is the author of The Humanist Celebrant Handbook (Humanist Press, soon to be released) and numerous journal and magazine articles. Autumn enjoys challenging the popular assumption that theism and nontheism are easily delineated and also teaching about centuries- old Christian and Jewish traditions of nontheism.

              Sherry Ann Chapman

              SSUC Member and Artisan Academic

              Sherry Ann Chapman is a dancer, drawn to water and making meaning in forests and mountains. She is an SSUC member, an endorsee of the Earth Charter and the Charter for Compassion, an artisan academic, and a facilitator of group dialogue in Edmonton.

                George Rodgers

                Progressive Christian

                George Rodgers has extensive pastoral and administrative experience in the congregations and courts of
                The United Church of Canada. As well, he has taught courses in Christian Scriptures and contemporary theology at
                Naramata Centre, St, Stephen’s College, and the University of Alberta. His recent presentation to the Beyond Speaker
                Series at Southminister-Steinhauer was entitled “Beyond Beliefs.

                  Rev. DR. Bruce Miller

                  Bruce was born in Hamilton, Ontario and spent his early years in Ottawa where he attended Carleton University. He has graduate degrees in theology from seminaries in Philadelphia and New York and he received his Ph.D from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1984. Bruce has taught religion courses at the University of Alberta for more than 20 years, and has served as minister in United Churches in Alberta for more than 30 years. And recently he served as the MLA for Edmonton-Glenora from 2004 to 2008.

                    Shelagh Parsons

                    Chaplain

                    Shelagh worked with troubled teens while completing her M.Div. and then began her official ministry as the Youth Coordinator in the United Church of Canada’s National Office. Shelagh facilitated youth work throughout the UC and developed curriculum in this appointment As she completed this part of her journey, Shelagh spent a year in the Corrymeela community in Northern Ireland. On her return to Canada, she served in congregational ministry in Alberta, followed by campus ministry as chaplain at the U of A and internship in chaplaincy at the U of A hospital. She completed a Master’s degree in counselling and worked in a clinical counselling position with Catholic Social Services. After ten years of adult and couples counselling utilizing narrative therapy, Shelagh recently retired and pursues her passion for learning in the realm of spirituality, various faith traditions and mindfulness. Throughout the conference, Shelagh will serve as our chaplain and be available for anyone wishing to share a conversation.

                      Louise Lawrie

                      Member of Westhill United

                      Louise is a member of West Hill United Church, who resides in Cambridge Ontario. She is a graduate of U of Toronto in Physio & Occupational Therapy; however, looking after their 3 children and managing Michael’s busy family practice office became her full time job. Raised in the United Church, but attending mainly because it was the family custom, theology was far less important than the social and service work components. As Progressive theology became more available, she and Michael became seekers, and hopped on the Progressive train. Finding Gretta Vosper and the West Hill community, finally provided a theology that made sense, and a place that felt like home.

                        Dr. Michael Lawrie

                        Retired Family Physician/ Westhill United Board member

                        Michael has been a member of West Hill United Church since 2014, and currently serves on the Board, as Chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee. He is a retired family physician, having done all of his education and training at the University of Toronto. He is an active community volunteer and has been a Rotarian for 30 years. His family had a peripheral and occasional affiliation with the United Church, but he became more active and involved following his marriage to Louise, 45 years ago. He has travelled the progressive journey for 20 years, starting with John Spong, but really became part of the movement, after reading Gretta’s books and watching You Tube West Hill services. Michael and Louise travel to West Hill 2 or three times each month.

                          Dale Iriving

                          Retired Minister

                          Ordained in 1967, Dale served pastorates in Alberta and Northwest Conference and Nova Scotia, as Conference Personnel Minister from 1984 to 1996, and in intentional interim appointments. He retired from serving Mill Woods United Church in 2008. Over the years he supervised 6 Ministry Interns which kept his interest alive to contemporary theology. Keenly following the Progressive Christianity movement, Dale has attended seminars with John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Diarmud O’Murchu, Miriam Therese Winter and others. His personal spirituality has continued to evolve, bringing him to SSUC and the Ever Wonder conference.

                            Ian Kellogg

                            Minister

                            Ian is a “child of the manse,” and like most of his contemporaries, left the church as a teenager. Sixteen years ago, he surprised himself by stumbling back into his local United Church in Toronto, a move whose surprise he compounded by deciding to pursue ministry ten years ago. Ordained in 2011, Ian served three small churches in rural Saskatchewan before moving to Edmonton in 2014 where is the minister at Mill Woods United Church.

                              LORIE KURZ

                              Member of Meewasin Valley United Church

                              Lorie Kurz is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has had an affiliation with the United Church as long as she can remember. She has been actively involved in several aspects of the church both locally and regionally. She was at the point of giving up on the institution of church when she read a letter to the editor in the Observer written by Gretta Vosper. It became a turning point in her faith. With renewed enthusiasm, a very informed and well-read group of like minded friends, the evolution of Meewasin Valley United in Saskatoon began.

                                Charles Bidwell

                                CHARLES BIDWELL Retired Minister, SSUC Member Charles is chair of Senate for St. Stephen's College in Edmonton and the coordinator of the Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Collection housed on the St Stephen's website under Research Tools. He is the retired minister of Metropolitan Community Church of Edmonton that ministered to LGBTQ folks who had been rejected by their faith community.

                                Charles is chair of Senate for St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton and the coordinator of the Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Collection housed on the St Stephen’s website under Research Tools. He is the retired minister of Metropolitan Community Church of Edmonton that ministered to LGBTQ folks who had been rejected by their faith community.

                                  Event tickets

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                                  6:15 PM
                                  Registration/Welcome/Hospitality

                                  Join us at SSUC 10740 19 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6J 6W9

                                  Opening gathering by SSUC ministers Nancy Steeves and Christopher New featuring music by SSUC musicians.

                                  Nancy Steeves and Christopher New

                                  As those identifying as having no religious affiliation (the “Nones”) continue to grow in numbers, early adopter organizations work to create communities that welcome them. Alan Cooperman, head of the religion department at Pew Research, has claimed that the god of the Nones is "shopping." But this group is still statistically unstudied. What they want and what it is they are seeking, if anything, is relatively unknown. Do we have any responsibility toward the “nones”? How can we predict what it is we could offer, if anything? And how are we challenged to offer anything that might support them?

                                  GRETTA VOSPER

                                  A panel of participants sharing their stories of moving in and out of religious/spiritual paradigms including an opportunity for participants to share something of their “progressions/transitions/evolution”

                                  Moderator: Ian Kellogg; Panelists: Marilyn Blackall, Louise Lawrie and Lorie Kurz

                                  Panel Discussion: What do atheists, humanists, SBNR and progressive Christians have in common? And what contributions do they make to the common good?

                                  Moderator: Linda Jennings; Panelists: Karen Lumney Kerr, Lisa Stein, Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson and George Rodgers

                                  Afternoon Sessions (participants will choose one of 5 possibilities) SEE THE TAB ABOVE 2. Welcome Home: How the Great Story of Our Unfolding Universe Is Shaping My Spirituality 3. Toward Spiritual Gatherings: Expanding Our Experience (Saturday Only) 4. The Ancient Connection: Values-Based Wisdom in the Jesus Tradition 5. Rewilding Spirituality: Land, Soul, and Society 6. Occupying Spirituality: Activism, Solidarity, Beliefs, Values (Saturday Only)

                                  Various
                                  2:30 PM
                                  2. Welcome Home: How The ‘Great Story Of Our Unfolding Universe’ Is Shaping My Spirituality?

                                  Presenter, Margaret Hetherington ‘The Great Story’ as it is sometimes called, with its deep time, amazing realities, and ever evolving nature has become my story too, connecting me with all that is. Oneness, belonging, wonder, gratitude, awakening, growth, resiliency, respect are becoming integral to my journey, as are spiritual practices that help me remember my connectedness with the universe. This journey as earth and universe dwellers is rich for some of us; tragic and deadly for vast numbers of other humans, other species and the earth’s well-being. We are not guaranteed an authority and a dominance as the old story of theism claimed. How can we become fully human, free and responsible, as we turn our attention to the religious issues of our day: to care for the earth in its fullest need? In our ‘belonging’ that makes us inseparable from all that is; what meaning can we find in a fragility that depends on our willingness or not to accept our full humanity. What does it all mean to you?

                                  Margaret Hetherington

                                  Providing a consistent and theologically unified experience for congregations can be a difficult transition. Many speak about progressive ideas and understandings in study groups but then experience language, liturgy and music on Sundays that reinforce traditional and sometimes unhelpful images and actions. Learn some strategies and discover resources from congregations that have transitioned from worship to spiritual gatherings that express a more expansive spirituality in music, prayer and language.

                                  Nancy Steeves, Christopher New, Charles Bidwell

                                  From its earliest writings, the Jesus tradition offers a values-based wisdom. The roots of what became Christianity was an expansive spirituality shaped and rooted in Jewish and Greek philosophical traditions; and rather than being formed around belief, dogma or creed, much of what we know of this early tradition centered in a new way of living and a practical experiential spirituality. Explore some of these values-based roots from the heart of the Jesus tradition and discover their relevance for today.

                                  Bruce Miller

                                  For many, our lifestyle and social structures are alienated from the natural world. We need a revolution in how we think, what we do with what we know and how we act. Our planetary crisis is primarily a spiritual crisis. This session will begin a journey of ‘Rewilding’ of land, soul and society beyond traditional environmentalism and sustainability. Come and learn together how to maximize the power of nature to enhance our minds, our personal and societal vibrancy, and our resilience.

                                  Sherry Ann Chapman

                                  Are you a theist, a post theist, a humanist, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Jew, a mystic, a Muslim, a pagan, a Quaker, a First Nation’s elder? Ever wonder whether that may not really matter? Ever wanted to cry out: “Hey, don’t lay your theology or a-theology on me. Just tell me what you value: justice? Love? Compassion? The environment? That will tell me all I need to know about your beliefs; about the wisdom of your faith or even the wisdom of your lack of one.” If you’ve felt that, come and tell all the rest of us who may have felt it too. Come join a smudge and talking circle guided by First Nations friends. We’ll pass an eagle feather and share our wisdom as we seek to know how we can reach across spiritual and religious differences – not to cancel them – but to grow in our power to make real our shared values. A solidarity that doesn’t require making “the other” the same. Presenters: Carola Cunningham, William Blake, Fabian Jennings

                                  Carola Cunningham, Fabian Jennings
                                  10:00 AM
                                  Spiritual Gathering

                                  Join us for a special Spiritual Gathering at SSUC

                                  We become interested, sometimes even obsessed, with our legacies as we pass mid-life and reflect upon what it is we will hand off to those we leave behind. Organizations, whose legacies can be far more profound than those of individuals, must do this as well, especially as they experience decline. What is the legacy of the liberal church? And what is it that we can do to ensure that what we hand off to those who follow us is the best we have to offer?

                                  GRETTA VOSPER

                                  Afternoon Sessions (participants will choose one from about 4 possibilities) SEE THE TAB ABOVE

                                  Various

                                  CCPC shares narrative a few presenters offer thoughts about future possibilities

                                  (small group conversations, reporting, celebrating)

                                  Thank you for joining us

                                  2:30
                                  (Sunday Only) 1. Is there a Place for Non-Theists in the United Church of Canada?

                                  Public is welcome for this session. Visit http://everwonderconference.ca/sessions/ for the options

                                  http://everwonderconference.ca/sessions/

                                  Location

                                  • 10740 19 Avenue Edmonton, AB
                                  • info@smsuc.com
                                  • (780) 435-2028