St. Matthew’s United Church eBulletin Dec 8, 2019  Advent II: Preparation


  • What's coming up at St. Matt's
  • White Gift Sunday Dec. 15 to receive gifts for Breakfast Guests
  • Sharing Christmas the St. Matthew's way (Cookies, calendars, gift ideas …)
  • Bethlehem@Barrington choir rehearsals
  • Keep in your prayers …
  • Thanks to …
  • Volunteer Fellowship Time hosts needed
  • Things you can donate to St. Matt's
  • Protecting the Light: Suggestions on Energy and Transportation Advent Wreath Actions


What's coming up at St. Matthew's  (* see below for more information)

Sun. Dec. 15  Advent III          Choral Christmas Service with Symphony Brass

                                                – White Gift Sunday for Sunday Breakfast  *

                                                -- Choir rehearsal for Bethelehem@Barrington, after church *

Sun. Dec. 22  Advent IV         Sunday School Christmas Service

                                                – Christmas Breakfast 8 am

Tue. Dec. 24                            Bethlehem@Barrington Live Nativity Service, 6:30 pm

                                                Candlelight Communion, 10 pm

Christmas Day                        Christmas morning Carol Service, 10:30 am



White Gift Service Dec. 15 to receive gifts for Breakfast Guests

Each year our Sunday breakfast teams accept gifts from the congregation to give to the many guests who attend the special Christmas Breakfast on Dec. 22. If you shop for a Christmas gift for a guest, clothing is most welcome (socks, underwear, warm sweaters, coats, mitts). Just make your own gift tag and identify who (m/f) the gift is for and indicate the size.

            In addition – or as an alternative – purchase $5 Tim Horton gift card(s). Tim Horton gift cards are very popular with our guests and this year, it is our hope that we will be able to give one $5 gift card to every guest.  This will increase equity and still enable guests to select a White Gift to open.

Gifts can be brought to church for presentation as a White Gift on Sunday Dec. 15 or left at the church by Friday Dec. 20.  Gift cards may be given to Carol Smillie, Janet Copeland, Michelle Jensen, or Rev. Betsy Hogan.


Sharing Christmas the St. Matthew's way

Bake Cookies for Christmas Breakfast Dec. 22 – Donations of homemade cookies are requested to give to guests at the special Christmas breakfast on Dec. 22. Cookies can be dropped off at the church hall on Sat. Dec. 21 between 1-3 pm during set-up. Pick-up can be arranged if needed. If you have any questions, contact Michelle Jensen,

Advent Food Box for Feed Nova Scotia – Mark the December days leading to Christmas by gathering any of the following items that are especially needed: Soup, stew, canned meat and fish, canned vegetables and fruit, pasta and rice, pasta sauce, peanut butter, cereal, baby formula and food, powdered and canned milk. Bring your box to church on Dec. 22 and we will deliver them to Feed Nova Scotia for distribution to local families.

Wracking your brain for Christmas ideas? St. Matthew’s Earth Spirit Action team can help with a list of easy and helpful eco-friendly suggestions for Christmas. Whether decorating, gift giving, or gift wrapping, make this one even more environmentally friendly. Printed handouts and a small display are available at the rear of the sanctuary. Contact the church office or Stephen Mercer if you would like the information emailed to you.

Gifts with VisionThe United Church of Canada offers a Gifts With Vision online and print catalogue for those who are looking for an alternative way of honoring friends, family, or any life occasion or season. Support initiatives that address poverty and hunger, education, wellness, leadership, safe spaces, and more. You can send a kid to camp, build a well, provide hot meals at homeless shelters, or adopt bees – whatever suits your interest -- and your gift can help change the world without buying stuff your friends and family neither need nor want. Gifts support the Mission and Service partners in Canada, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East. The 2019 edition has been published and is available online at, and a few copies of the print catalogue are available in the sanctuary.

Canadian Church Calendars – 2020 Church Calendars can be purchased ($6) from our Minister of Music, Wayne Rogers.

Shop for Peace – Support the farmers of Palestine in the struggle for their livelihood and land: buy these Zatoun fair trade products after church. Cash sales only, exact change welcome. Thanks to Janet Copeland for organizing this.

  • Olive oil $18
  • Soap bar $5
  • Za'atar herb mix $5


Poinsettias – All are invited to purchase a poinsettia to place in the church for the season of Christmas, perhaps in memory of or in honour of a loved one. Shirley McInnes will be collecting names and money.


Bethlehem@Barrington Choir Rehearsals

All are invited to join the ad hoc whoever-turns-up gang of singers who together provide the tunes to greet the Christ Child on Christmas Eve! The B@B songs are all iconic and fabulous Top 40 hits and it’s an uplifting way to begin your Christmas Eve celebrations. First run-through: Sun. Dec. 15 at noon in the sanctuary.


Keep in your prayers

  • The family of Glennis Farquhar, a friend of St. Matthew’s and wife of Rev. Alex Farquhar who served our congregation as minister from 1959-1964. Flowers in the sanctuary last week were shared by her family in her honour.
  • Ted MacNeil and Dora McGrath and their family, mourning the death of Ted’s brother, Melvin, who shared their family home.


Thanks to …

  • AcabellA Handbell Choir and harpist Patricia De Méo for sharing their music with us on Sunday. Next Sunday’s music will feature Choir and Brass with members of the Symphony Brass, Matthew Fraser, organ/piano, and percussionists Trevor Brandenburg and Craig Reiner.


Volunteer Fellowship Time hosts needed

Can you volunteer to host a Fellowship Time?  This important work to ensure a pleasant time of refreshment and conversation after worship services is coordinated by volunteers. Allow an extra half-hour before church for set-up, and after church for clean-up, and the work is done. More hands are needed! Contact Linda Campbell <> if you can take a turn.


Things you can donate to St. Matt's

Do you have extra MUGS? -- More mugs are needed for Sunday Breakfast. If you have any to donate, please mention to Carol Smillie in the choir OR just bring them on a Sunday morning.

 Tim Horton's Gift Cards – These are used by both the Breakfast Program and the church office when people in need stop by. Cards valued at $10 are preferred.

 Board games, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies, DVDs/VHS and machines to show movies on – St. Matt's will be an Extreme Weather Warming Centre for Halifax this winter, and it would be wonderful to have more fun things available to keep people occupied during inclement, cold, or unpleasant weather.


Protecting the Light: Suggestions on Energy and Transportation Advent Wreath Actions

 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Gen. 1: 3-4


Use the footprint calculator available through the link on St. Matthew’s website (there are others online) to calculate the carbon footprint. Try some of the following to reduce your footprint: (full version on St. Matt's website under the Earth Spirit Action link:


  • Plan a dinner by candlelight one evening a week and keep most of your lights off.


  • If you already have a decorated Christmas tree, turn off the lights when you are not around or put them on a timer.


  • Change to LED lights for home and trees, if you have not already. Changing one 100 watt bulb to LED equivalent saves 52 kg CO2 per year.


  • Have a “no screen” evening and plan an activity such as a board game, reading, knitting, making music or story telling. Develop a checklist to help kids ( and yourself) remember to turn off lights, computer, video games when not in use.


  • Can you turn back your thermostat a degree or two? Sweaters for Christmas? Turning your heat down 1 degree C. saves 184 K CO2 per year.


  • Unplug your small appliances when not in use. Put the reminder in your Advent calendar.


  • Wash only full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers. Wash clothes in cold water with an environmentally friendly detergent.


  • Used to long showers? Reducing your shower by 4 minutes per day (if you have time to stay in that long or have several people showering!) can save 3650 gallons of water a year.


  • Teach kids to shower with a timer. Set it for a reasonable time or negotiate with older children.


  • Replace the filter in your furnace – every three months recommended for more efficiency.


  • Have a refrigerator rule for kids. Know what you want before opening the door! Develop a funny cartoon as a reminder to close the refrigerator door.  (Good to establish before the teenage years!)


  • Doing Christmas baking. Observe how long it takes your oven to pre-heat. Avoid pre-heating earlier than necessary.


  • Install low-flow shower heads to cut back on hot water usage.


  • Maximize the heat from the sun by opening blinds/curtains facing the sun; close blinds at night.


  • Plant a tree. Tree Canada has inexpensive gifts of trees for planting across Canada. Trees are the most efficient carbon sinks.


  • Seal air leaks in your home. Make it a family fun activity to find them.


  • Involve them in deciding a suitable penalty for forgetting (for example, less screen time, or part of their allowance donated to an environmental organization or ecojustice group).  Have kids monitor the adults for compliance as well! 


  • If you are not a regular bus rider, look up the schedule and see what transportation needs can be met by public transport this season. Choose “a bus day” for an entry in your advent calendar.


  • Organize the chores to minimize your car usage and avoid unnecessary trips.


  • Are you a cycler? Have you been one earlier? Biking in the city is getting easier. Also Ecology Action Centre has a program for kids and for adults introducing/re-introducing safe cycling in Halifax.  Plan for spring bicycling.


  • Check out resources in your neighbourhood that you can walk to.


  • Buy gifts, food and clothing from local sources as much as possible. Transportation of these items has a large impact on carbon footprint.


  • If you are travelling for the holidays, pay the carbon offset. Better still calculate what the carbon footprint is and then donate its cost to one of your local or favourite environmental organizations. Ecology Action Centre, Clean Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia Nature Trust are three examples of local environmental organizations doing our work for us!


  • Schedule some time to read up on energy issues confronting Nova Scotia or Canada; check out creative energy solutions being proposed. Take a stand and tell your municipal  or provincial representatives how you feel about these issues.


  • Check out Efficiency Nova Scotia There are new incentives coming down! They also have incentives for businesses if you are a business owner. Have your home or business assessed for possible support in making your places more energy efficient.


  • Escape the high energy maintenance of our homes in winter! Make plans to enjoy the outdoors regularly especially during the holidays. Appreciate the beauty of our natural world. Pay attention to the other-than-human inhabitants that depend on our care and respect for their habitats. They all play a role in supporting our lives.


  • If you have kids or relatives with kids visiting for Christmas, take a trip to the Discovery centre – check out the energy exhibit and the locally centred footprint calculator.


  • Give gift donations to organizations working to help workers transition to jobs in the alternative energy fields. Earth and Iron is one such working in Canada; it was founded and is run by workers.


  • Looking for bigger changes? Check out new incentives for solar power. Review your investments – consider investing in companies supporting wind, tidal or solar power. Check out the new energy monitors that can check the performance of the appliances in your home. There are many with different capacities.



Administrative Stuff

Church office: (902) 423-9209,  

Pastoral care: Rev. Betsy Hogan, (902) 423-9209,

Sunday Worship: 10:30 am

Minister of Music: Wayne Rogers, (902) 429-1680,

Student Organist: Matthew Fraser

On the web:


Ushering – Click this link to open the sign-up page


EarthSpiritAction Resources for Thinking About God's Green Earth:


Meeting Schedule 2019-20

Congregational Meeting       May 3, 2020 (budget)

Session, Stewards, Board       Jan. 12, Mar. 8, Apr. 26

Worship and Music                Feb. 2


Regular Activities

Sunday Free Breakfast  – Sundays 8:30 am

Thursday Noon Bible Study – TBA

Choir Practices – Thursdays – Handbells 6:15 pm, Sanctuary choir 7:30 pm

Lunch Bunch community choir – Fridays at 12:15 pm

St. Matthew’s Book Club  – Third Tuesday

Melville Heights Service – Third Sunday at 2 pm at Melville Heights retirement lodge

Potluck Church  -- Wed. Jan. 15


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