March 26, 2021
Spring has arrived in the church gardens!
Dear First Friends,

Redwing black birds calling, chalk drawings on sidewalks, skipping ropes and scooters, no snowpants needed, daffodil leaves strong enough to poke through dead leaves, snowdrops and crocuses making splashes of colour - all point towards hope and new beginnings!

Celebrating Hope Dinner April 3
Thanks for supporting our Celebrating Hope Dinner, our latest fundraising event at First United. We have over 100 orders as of Wed, March 23 (newsletter deadline).

Because we are not sold out, DeliWorks is willing to guarantee any additional orders we receive before Monday March 29, 9:00am. We ask you to invite family and friends to join us as we work towards another sellout.

Please call Lynda at 519-885-4534 or Muriel at 519-746-2566 to place your orders if you are interested.
Thanks, Muriel
Worship This Sunday
Sunday, March 28 at 10:30 AM ~ Palm Sunday Service: We begin Holy Week by recalling Jesus' entry to Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospel according to John 12:12-26 in scripture, sermon, and song. Registration for Zoom (including service and coffee time) is required. Click Here
Weekly Words from the Part-time Minister of Worship and Pastoral Care
"Prayer" by Christi Belcourt, part of the the McMichael Collection Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth.
On Wednesday Evenings in April, we'll prepare for Earth Day by praying with nature. As a preview, check out the special exhibit at the McMichael (Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth) available as a free virtual tour, Click Here.  As an inspiration for faith-in-action, see the United Church of Canada's For the Love of CreationClick Here.

Monday, March 29 at 10 am: The UCW is preparing for the Family Day Worship Service on Sunday, May 9. (We'll also talk about making 1000 Peace Cranes for Pentecost. For a video demonstration: Click Here) Interested in joining in the planning? Click Here

Tuesday, March 30 at 7 pm ~ A Virtual Birthday Celebration: Everyone with a March birthday is welcome to gather to share a birthday story: For Zoom link, Click Here .
Here are the March Birthdays that were sent to me:
March 4           Ted Willingham
March 5           Lee Willingham
March 10         Margaret Dickson
March 16         Dréson McDonald
March 20         Joanne MacPhail
March 25         Margaret Colmer-Shantz
March 30         Ken Mott
If you haven't sent me your March birthday yet, please do!

Wednesday, March 31, at 7 pm ~ Lenten Series: Finding Peace.
For Zoom link, Click Here.
Blessings, the Rev. Rose Ann Vita ( or 647 763 0101)
Here Comes Holy Week
We are heading into Holy Week from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday. As the week winds out, we celebrate some of the central stories of our Christian faith. May I encourage you to view and participate in the Maundy Thursday evening and Good Friday morning worship offerings in which all four United Churches of Waterloo are sharing; and then, tune into our Easter morning worship live-stream service at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. The links and times for these services are listed below and posted on our church website. All services will be recorded for viewing at a later time if you cannot be present when they are first aired.

Thursday April 1 - 7:00 pm - Maundy Thursday Service
To join the service Click Here

Friday April 2 - 10:00 am - Good Friday Service
To join the service Click Here
Webinar ID: 837 7878 6547
Passcode: 038896

Sunday April 4 - 10:30 am  Easter Sunday Service with Communion - Rev. Harry Disher

Blessings, peace, and Easter joy be with you,
From the Safe Start Team
For the most up-to-date vaccination information, please refer to the Waterloo Region Public Health website or call 519-575-4400. Information about Vaccine Clinics in Waterloo Region is available here and to learn about Vaccination Pre-Registration (for Eligible Priority Groups) Click Here.

The team met on March 17 and completed a final walkthrough of the sanctuary to confirm the seating plan, observing all COVID protocols and Public Health guidelines. A smaller group is working on putting together a "What to Expect" video for when the Board makes the decision to return to in-person worship.

If you have any comments, concerns or suggestions for us, we would be happy to hear from you! Email us at

Your Safe Start Team: Ken Arnett, Jay Brooker, Sheena Curwood, Harry Disher, Joe Hipperson, Kathleen King Martin, John Lindsay, Cathie Stewart Savage, Ron Taylor
Follow-up to March 7th Conversations That Matter
We have received more than 75 suggestions for possible small group activities at First. Thanks to all participants. We are recommending five of the activities listed to the Transition Team for implementation at this time. Once they are up and running we will give further consideration to others on the list.

From the Small Group Animators: Harry, John and Joan
Book Club
Tomorrow, Saturday March 27 at 9:00 a.m. is our next Book Club gathering! We'll be discussing The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and choosing a new book for April. Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom then! Click Here to find the Zoom link on the church website.

Gordon Wray
Noon Hour Concerts at First - Live streamed from 12:00 – 1:00
On Tuesday, the Penderecki String Quartet performed an absolutely exquisite performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No 15. It’s no surprise that they’re considered one of Canada’s best String Quartets, attracting international students for their string program at WLU. Each member was so appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of our series.

As the Board mentioned in a previous newsletter, we may be able to allow for a very small audience only if the Waterloo Region COVID-19 designation improves. If this is the case, we will post a notice on the First United Church website. Spots will be limited so potential audience members must register at as soon as possible once notice has been posted on the website, and no later than 4:00 pm on the Saturday before each Tuesday concert. (In the event that the Government’s announcement happens on a Monday, registration would need to be made by Monday evening).

Audience members must register in this way for each concert that they wish to attend. Registration is necessary for contact tracing in case of an outbreak and to ensure that we stay within the allowable number of people in the sanctuary. Once you register, you will receive an email if there is a spot for you at the next concert. Information will be provided about how to submit the Church’s Liability Waiver, as well as the self-health checklist to be completed before arrival at the church. Once you are at the church, you will be asked to sign in on the audience list for that concert. So, keep an eye on the First United Church website for updates!

The remaining concerts in this series are best accessed at:

March 30 - Larry Larson (trumpet) & Lori Gemmell (harp)
April 6 - Springdale Trio - Wendy Wagler (flute), Ben Bolt Martin (cello) & Boyd McDonald (piano)
April 13 - Ian Sadler (pipe organ)

Additional Concert!
An additional concert has been added featuring Joanne Bender (piano) and Bruce Skelton (violin) on Tuesday April 20 from 12:15 – 12:45. Since this is not part of our 8 concert series, access to it has not as yet been decided. Stay tuned!

Cheers!  Sharon Gowland

For additional FREE concerts, Click Here
Pastoral Care
For Pastoral Care needs please email the church (  For our Minister of Pastoral Care call Rose Ann Vita 647-763-0101 (cell) or (email).
Gallery Choir
We continue to rehearse virtually on Thursday evenings (7pm-8pm) and have several pieces of worship music in the works. Members have been able to pick up hymnals and sheet music at the church, observing current COVID-19 protocols.

Our recordings of Long Ago and Far Away (communion), and Lead Me Lord (anthem), were included in the past two Sunday worship services and more are planned for Easter. A few individuals have rejoined the choir and some are going on temporary leave, moving to Nova Scotia or retiring at this time. We appreciate those individuals "on call" who are supplementing the choir with their wonderful voices too.

For anyone that may wish to join, even if only for a short time, please send me an E-Mail, as we would be happy to have you.

Stewardship / Finance
Easter is early this year and you may already be thinking about your special givings at Easter. The special Easter givings at First will be shared among Skylight, Rainbow Camp and SHOW (Supportive Housing of Waterloo). A mailing will be going out to congregation members before Easter with the special envelope for your Easter givings.

Drive-By Farewell
Annette & Gordon Wray are moving to Kentville Nova Scotia in mid April. Our granddaughters are growing up fast and we have not visited them in over a year, so when Gordon took a package from work we decided to embark on a new adventure. We will host a Drive By to say farewell on Sunday April 11 from 2 to 4 at our home. You can wave, open your windows and chat, etc. We ask that you not bring any gifts, flowers, etc. as we don't want to have to pack it or put in the compost or garbage.

Matt & James will be in an apartment in Kitchener, with James going to Conestoga College and Matt working at Resurrection College. 
We have been so blessed by our community, the various groups we have belonged to, and our workplaces. May God's Blessings be with you all.

Annette & Gordon Wray
Together We Stand, but Apart