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Members of Mothers’ Union in New Brunswick, 55 in all, gathered at St. John the Baptist Church in Riverview for the annual rally on April 27.

Special guests were Archbishop David Edwards and Diocesan ACW president Jill Stewart. Diocesan MU chaplain, the Rev. Caleb Twinamatsiko, led the church service to start the day. 

Readings were offered by Susan Watson, Pat Margison and Susan Colpitts-Judd. Joanne Ham, co-president of MU, read the Prayers of the People. Adele Knox read the names in the Book of Remembrance, 52 names stretching back a few decades. 

Bishop David, in his sermon, noted the cross he was wearing, the Canterbury Cross, is a reminder of the worldwide nature of Anglicanism, as is Mothers’ Union.

His sermon tied in two readings, one from Acts 8: 26-40, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch; and one from John15:1-8, the vine and the branches. He reminded those gathered that Jesus offered living water to a Samaritan woman at the well. She shared her story with her whole village and they came to believe. 

It was in Samaria that Philip found himself, successfully preaching and helping even more Samaritans find Jesus. But God directed Philip to leave.

“The Holy Spirit says to Philip, ‘Leave this success. Get up and go stand by the road,’” said David. 

The story ends with the eunuch believing and being baptised, “and the church in Ethiopia grew from that event. Now the church grows from Samaria to Ethiopia. The vine is already spreading.

“In the same sense, Mothers’ Union is part of that vine, spreading over the world,” he said.

How did the Ethiopian incident launch the start of the Christian church there? 

“Philip listened,” he said. “The Son of God will direct the Church of God into places the Church needs to go so the vine can continue to grow.”

David was at a confirmation service at St. Luke’s in the Parish of Portland in Saint John the previous week, where 175 people came out to celebrate. Many were not churchgoers, but they were there supporting the four young people of Indian ancestry who were being confirmed. 

St. Luke’s is now the church for newcomers in the city, and that came about because of one simple act.

“It began when they offered their empty rectory to an immigrant family,” said David. “The spirit will lead us in the direction it wants us to go.

“Just go and stand by the road in the middle of the desert, and I will do something. And the vine will expand,” he said.

“The vine is centred on the whole of creation, the cosmos, not just the world. Everything in the whole of creation is the object of the love of God, and we as the branches play our part in showing that love.”

The Rev. Caleb Twinamatsiko gave a short presentation on KCSE, Kigando Community Support for the Elderly, a charity he came up with after witnessing his widowed mother’s decline in her old age.

“It all started with me coming here and leaving my mother behind,” he said. “My mother was 99 and dependent on me. I left her there in her house, and soon I thought ‘I have to go back.’ I almost went back.”

When he did return to Uganda, for a visit, he found her living arrangements were not conductive to good health.

“Everyone thought she’d be dead by the end of the year,” he said. “She had depression, and bad nutrition.

“We spent time there re-arranging her home, and things got better,” he said, adding that he’d learned from visiting seniors and nursing homes here how living spaces should be set up to help the elderly.

“We changed everything and she was very happy.”

Caleb explained that Ugandan women work hard physically all their lives to grow food, gather wood for cooking fires and walk up to 40 kilometres to get to markets, either to buy or sell food.

“By 65, they’re done. They sit and wait to die. They are worn out,” he said, adding by then they are widowed and have no marketable skills or money.

So he and wife Hope began thinking of how to share what they did for his mother to other widows also in need.

They raised some money to buy basic supplies for women. And when they visited Uganda, they gathered the women of his village together.

“Hope gives the tips on hygiene. We give them tips on how they should live. At the end of the day, we share a meal, and we send them home with supplies,” he said.

“The time they spend together makes a big difference,” he said.

In the course of this journey, the Twinamatsikos have founded Kigando Community Support for the Elderly, which is registered in Uganda, and in the process of becoming a registered charity in Canada. 

A donation of $15 will buy a month’s worth of basic food and other items for an elderly widow in Kigando.

“It’s not everything,” said Caleb. “It’s what they lack. We’d like to find a group here to partner with them. We pray we can continue to help.”

Shelter Movers Moncton is a new organization, just over one year old. Two of its three staff members, Courtney Wilson and Jonelle Mace, were the guest speakers for the afternoon.

Shelter Movers is a free service accessed via referral from other agencies like the RCMP, YWCA, Harvest House and Victim Services. Its role is to help people threatened or harmed by intimate partner violence move out to a new, safer home. 

While most clients are women and their children escaping a violent man, people can also be fleeing abusive family members, roommates, and even predatory landlords.

“Women and children are our main client base,” said Jonelle. “The most dangerous time is when a woman announces she is pregnant, and when she is trying to leave.”

The average move in Canada costs about $2,200, which is often out of reach for a woman who has been under the thumb of her abuser. Financial issues are a huge burden and a barrier to leaving an abusive homelife.

In practical terms, Shelter Movers supplies and drives moving vans and shows up with lots of volunteer help on moving day. For high risk moves, they also provide security. 

“We also do pet fostering,” said Courtney. “We work with PAW and they provide free fostering.”

Avis car rentals provides cars so that volunteers and employees never use their own vehicles. They also provide free storage units for people in limbo.

“For urgent exit moves, we work with the RCMP,” said Jonelle. 

After just over one year, Shelter Movers has facilitated 132 moves in the greater Moncton area. In February this year, they did 15 moves, the most they’ve ever done, so the need is there. While they take care of the move, they do not find a new house or apartment for clients.

Having a chapter of Shelter Movers in Moncton, one of nine in the country, all began with Moncton’s MP, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who heard about the group in Ottawa and felt her city needed the service.

Besides Avis, the group has support from Enterprise and Penske. Funding is a mix of government and private donations and they are always looking for ways to fundraise. 

They eventually want to be able to expand to Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi. You can learn more at their website  or their Facebook page.   

The day wrapped up with a fun activity, Family Feud. Earlier, MU members were asked to submit their names to play on a team. But weeks before that, host Joanne Ham sent out survey questions to get the fodder with which to play the popular TV game.

Ten names were called to form two teams. They named themselves Team This and Team That. The questions included your favourite board game; favourite potluck dish; favourite book of the bible; favourite part of an MU meeting and so on. Team This won the game and played for Fast Money, though the joke was there is no money.
It was a fun and interactive way to end the day.

1.  Team That members, Diane Nash, Sheila Staples, Susan Colpitts-Judd, Ivi Turner and Shara Golden, react to a second strike during the Family Feud game, with moderator (and MU co-president) Joanne Ham, at right.

2.  Heather Miller mans the sale desk, while Pat Margison, Donelda Kalijn, Leona Gallant and Shirley Hupman do some shopping.

3.  Group photo of the MU members in attendance at the 2024 Rally Day.

4.  Shelter Movers speakers Courtney Wilson and Jonelle Mace.
McKnight photos

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