Faiths Faces Kelowna: July 2006

Faiths Faces Kelowna

This is a personal experience exploration of the different churches, temples, mosques, etc. in Kelowna. Through this weekly experience, I hope to become more spiritually-oriented, while getting to experience different religions, and different slants on the Christian experience.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

St. Mary's East Kelowna

Address: 2710 East Kelowna Road
Date & Service Attended: July 30 2006
Pastor/Priest/Leader: Lay pastor - Eileen

Sermon: A contemplation of John 6: 1-21 (The Miracle of the Fishes and Loaves, and Jesus walking on water.

The lay pastor, Eileen, referenced a biblical book (sorry, I've forgotten by whom) that said that there are three ways to look at the Fishes and Loaves:
  1. An actual miracle as stated;
  2. A communion, where sustenance is gained;
  3. Jesus turning the 5,000 from selfish, to sharing and caring
She elaborated on the third point - that the people, having come so far, and it being the travelling time of Passover, were unlikely to have arrived there (Sea of Galilee) without some food.

By Jesus setting the example, and sharing what little he was able to round up, encouraged the crowd of pilgrims to share what they had. In short, to turn from selfish, to sharing, and then caring. So that the five barley loaves and two fish ultimately became twelve baskets of leftovers. A miracle of a sort too.

(This reminds me of the story of stone soup that I had read as a child. Perhaps Jesus was the spiritual originator of "stone soup").

In any case, it was a different way to think about John 6.

The second part of the sermon related to the walking on water miracle. Again, another biblical book was related, and Eileen said that John 6 also shows us how Jesus does three things:
  1. Watches us;
  2. Guides us;
  3. Helps us.
Other parts of the service: There was hymn singing, one which I really enjoyed, "Wind Upon the Waters", in their 1998 "Common Praise" hymn book (anything with nature in it really gets me, as I enjoy this display of God's magnanamous nature more than almost anything).

They also had flute playing, a hand drum, two acoustical guitars, and an organ. Usually, one or two of the instruments were being played while a hymn was being sung.

My feelings/thoughts: Usually, I don't comment on the church venue, but this is a very small, historical church building. Very nice I thought.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the service and the people: it's a very intimate type venue, and the interaction of the congregation supported that intimacy even more. To me, it felt like the best kind of family gathering. I also appreciated the prayer, where we prayed for a number of different worker types, and various people of the congregation, but where we could also call aloud the name of someone we wanted a prayer for.

I enjoyed the variety of music, I liked Canon Jim Kiddell ringing the bell at the start of the service.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed the service, with the slight proviso that I enjoy a sermon that uses a current "life" example, of how the scriptures/God has meaning (and in what way) and can be put to use on a regular basis. In that regard, the sermon wasn't quite as I like, but the rest of it was unbelievably beautiful for me.

If you're like me, I can't recommend enough that you try out this service. I think this is a real hidden gem of a church.

Other things: (Occassional comments on church goings on, or musings about the service, situation, etc.) Announcements that were slightly humourous: If you are between 75-80 and volunteering at the church, they need to know your name so you can be covered by the insurance policy (not quite sure why everyone else's name doesn't seem to be needed). Got a laugh from the congregation when one parishioner asked, "What if you're over 80?"

My own very personal ranking on the service and sermon overall: [I liked it a lot]

Religion: [Christian]
Denomination: Anglican
Size of Congregation: [Small]
Primary demographic appearance: [Older (mostly 40+ years old)]
Was greeted/welcomed, made to feel welcome: [Once or twice] And was personally introduced in the service to the rest of the congregation by the lady sitting next to me, Joan.
Service Started: 9:30AM
Service Finished: 10:25AM

Contact this church:
Phone: 763-3660, email:
Web-links: None found.

Faiths Faces Kelowna

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Seen: The Crystal Cathedral

Well, this isn't really a church review, but just something I've always wanted to do, and did it last year (2005) when I was down in Disneyland. I and my eldest daughter, saw the Crystal Cathedral and took in the service.

I have read, over the years, a couple of inspirational books (1, 2) by Dr. Robert H. Schuller, and always enjoyed his inspirational and upbeat message. And of course over the years, I'd seen a few of his Hour of Power sermons on TV, given in the marvelous Crystal Cathedral. What a wonderful man, and a great venue.

Unfortunately, he wasn't giving the sermon the day I was there, so I missed out on that.

However, his son-in-law recounted his testimony of how and why he became a Christian. It was interesting, and kind of a cautionary tale on a life lived only for wordly pleasure (before he became a Christian). One of the parts of his testimony that I particularly enjoyed was his recounting of various people warning Dr. Schuller that this fellow was kind of unsavoury, with a dubious past: did Dr. Schuller really want this fellow mixed up in Dr. Schuller's growing church?

To one questioner, Dr. Schuller replied: Yes, he's exactly the type of person we want here! This is a (spiritual) hospital for sick people - not a museum of saints! Which of course reminded me of why I'm so fond of Dr. Schuller and his message of hope.

More info: Crystal Cathedral


Faiths Faces Kelowna

Sunday, July 23, 2006

St. Charles Garnier Parish Kelowna

Address: 3645 Benvoulin Rd, Kelowna V1W 4M7
Date & Service Attended: July 23 2006, 8:30AM
Pastor/Priest/Leader: Wayne Pfliger

Sermon: The new church allowed both Jew and Gentile to come together in worshipping God. The new God presented by Jesus wasn't like the old God who was seen as a rule giver and enforcer. The new God was kind and forgiving and open. However, many Jews could not accept that Jesus was the embodiment of God on Earth. The Pharisees (priests/pastor etc. old the old Jewish religion) also could not accept this, as they were held to be the interceders/interpreters of God.

Very short sermon, very limited "tie-in" today's world.

Other parts of the service: Traditional Catholic, prayers, hymns, small readings.

My feelings/thoughts: Similar to last week (a Catholic service also), the service is so filled with ritual that made me feel like I didn't know the secret handshake. No guide handed out to the service, so as a newcomer, you really don't know where you are going. No multi-media to help you along.

The Catholic Church, based on my two experiences so far, seems to be an insiders club. To some extent, it seems to me like they are the Pharisees of old. Lots of rituals that I couldn't understand, and without explanation. Even the pastor doesn't say who he is.

It all seems needlessly mysterious to a faith that should be - in my opinion - striving to welcome newcomers. But I suppose that many comfortable with the rituals don't see how it can be intimidating to newcomers who lack the years and years of practice.

Even the service is set out in a handbook that outlines the weekly service for an entire year. This seems, to me, to be very rigid, which is exactly what happened with the Pharisees, says the Catholic Encyclopedia.

However, I also have a strong bias towards a meaningful sermon, and when that is lacking, I feel disappointed, cheated even. I prefer one good sermon with some tie-in to today's world, to one hundred rituals that others may find comforting. So this definitely colours my view of today's service.

Other things: No comment.

My own very personal ranking on the service and sermon overall: [Not Really for Me]

Religion: [Christian]
Denomination: Catholic
Size of Congregation: [Medium]
Primary demographic appearance: [Older (mostly >40 years old)]
Was greeted/welcomed, made to feel welcome: [Once or twice]
Service Started: 8:30AM
Service Finished: 9:30AM

Contact this church:
Phone: 860-6776
Web-links: Unknown

Faiths Faces Kelowna

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Immaculate Conception Church Kelowna

Address: 839 Sutherland Avenue
Date & Service Attended: July 16th 2006 9AM Service

I have to admit that I was late here - I thought that the service started at 9:30, and arrived just after 9:20. Most of the church services I've gone to over the years, the sermon usually starts about 20 minutes in, so I thought I'd get most of it. However, those Catholics - judging by this service anyway - are an efficient bunch because by the time I got there, the sermon was mostly complete.

This was the first time that I'd been to a Catholic service, but I have several more to go to before completion of my experience, so I can live with being late in this instance.

Sermon: What I caught related to criticism. Take it seriously, but not personally.

Other parts of the service: Singing, various prayers, etc. People going up to the front of the church for something or other. Priest "snacking" as part of the service. (OK I know it's got some meaning, I just don't know what!)

My feelings/thoughts: A very traditional type of service; felt ritualistic - you were either on the inside of the club or not - and as a non-Catholic, I definitely was on the outside looking in. Everyone else "knew the code", but not me.

If you like a ceremony-filled type service, then this might be for you. I've never particularly enjoyed ceremonies of most sorts, and rituals and traditions don't hold that much appeal to me, so it wasn't really my sort of service.

Other things: No modern multi-media like many churches these days, but a much more traditional church building.

My own very personal ranking on the service and sermon overall: [Not Really for Me]

Religion: Christian
Denomination: Catholic
Size of Congregation: [Medium]
Primary demographic appearance: [Mix (above & below 40)to somewhat older ]
Was greeted/welcomed, made to feel welcome: I was late, but there was welcoming within the service itself.
Service Started: I'm going to assume that it was 9AM on the nose.
Service Finished: 10:05AM

Contact this church:
Phone: 762-3910
Web-links: Main church:

Faiths Faces Kelowna

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Kelowna's 2003 Fire: The Unacknowledged Miracle

That's one accurate aim! The unacknowledged miracle of the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park / Kelowna interface fire (Wikipedia entry).

I wanted shed light on one unacknowledged aspect of the 2003 forest/interface fire in Kelowna, that ultimately consumed some 239 homes, achieved a size of 25,912 hectacres (convert to acres), and had a fire perimeter in excess of 197 kilometers (convert to miles) by the time it was 100% contained.

Before I tell the tale, let me quickly provide some background information:
  • 2003 was a particularly hot and dry year in B.C.
  • Aug 16th: The fire started on Aug 16th, just beyond the southern boundary of Kelowna, in the Okanagan Mountain Park area (map) with few people in the very immediate vicinity. Although the fire was spotted quickly, it was too late to get water bombers here, and up in the air that day. By the time fire suppression started the next day, the beast was well on it's way to earning a place in history.
  • Aug 19th: Moving to the north, south and east, by August 19th, the fire had grown to 2,800 HA, and 2,000 Kelowna residents were now on one hour evacuation alert notice.
  • Aug 20th: By very early morning August 20th, the fire had now grown to 6,300 HA, and by 10AM, had achieved a size of 11,000 HA. By 11AM, reports were that the fire was now 13,000 HA. Considering the rapid growth of the fire, many Kelowna residents were starting to become alarmed.
  • Aug 21st: By early evening the next day, August 21st, the fire had jumped a guard, and residents of 3,100 homes were now ordered out of their houses. This was estimated to affect anywhere from 9,000 - 10,000 people.
  • August 22nd: This was the most ferocious night of the fire's destruction; it advanced on exclusive residential areas, consuming over 200 homes that night, with winds pitching the fire forward with 60-70 kph wind gusts. Residential firefighters were facing walls of flames, up to 125 metres high, and advancing at 100 metres per minute in some cases. Burning debris the size of dinner plates were reported landing six to eight kilometres away from the fire.
  • Aug 22nd: that same night, another huge evacuation order was given, this time affecting another 20,000 or so residents. At this point, it was estimated that about 1/4 of all Kelowna residents had been ordered from their houses.
  • Aug 22nd: The fire was now estimated at 17,000 HA in size. Yet, oddly, this very night, was also beginning of the end for the fire.
  • Aug 23: the fire was now estimated at 19,000 HA, although it was growing more slowly now.
  • Aug 23: some evacuation orders begin to be rescinded, allowing about 5,000 residents back in to their homes.
  • Aug 24th - Sep 8th - although the fire continues to grow, it grows rather slowly aided by a cooling trend and some September rainfall.
  • By September 20th, enough rain has fallen, together with firefighting efforts, for the blaze now to be declared 100% contained, and the fire - which had achieved a maximum size of 25,912 HA, had started shrinking. Fire suppression efforts, rains and further cooling temperatures eventually douse the blaze entirely by the end of October.
What was extremely unusual was that the night of the greatest destruction, was also the night that sweet relief from the heavens arrived. This is the part of the story that is practically unacknowledged. On August 22nd, just as the firefighters were facing the very worst night of the fire, rain arrived - but only on and near the fire - and practically NOWHERE ELSE!

Yes, a huge fat, rogue weather cell, absolutely blackened with moisture, crossed it's legs and marched all the way from the Pacific Ocean, some 250+ kilometres to the west - over several high mountain ranges, and dropped its load directly on the fire. It was remarkable to watch the effect.

That night, Aug 22nd, I too was starting to become concerned. From the downhill slope of my street, with small Dilworth mountain partially obstructing my view, I could see a wall of orange some 15 kilometres to the south, on either side of Dilworth, highlighting the night sky. It looked alarming, ominous, and unstoppable.

Although we ourselves were not under evacuation alert or order, I decided to fuel the car, in case we need flee. Apparently, many people had the same idea; all the regular and mid grades were sold out, leaving only premium available together with a lengthy wait for a pump.

By the time I returned to my house, some 45 minutes later, I took to the street again to view the fire. It was like someone had turned off several lights. Dilworth was no longer illuminated against the night sky, although the fire was still visible along my western view corridor. No one could tell me what had happened to the eastern illumination in my absence.

Asking my neighbours, friends, etc. the next day yielded no answer - but a couple of days later, one friend who lived on the opposite (western) side of the lake advised he'd seen a fat cloud passing over his house - but had given up hope when it dropped no rain on him.

One the other (fire) side of the lake, it was a different story however; while the firefighters were battling 125 metre high walls of flames, and 100 metre a minute fire advances, just past them to the east, the rain was pouring down. In fact, it came down so heavily in the village 10 kilometres east (Joe Rich) of the fire, that my hockey buddy reported that his eaves couldn't handle the onslaught and overflowed themselves. This, I then knew, was the fire suppression on the eastern front that I'd seen that night.

To the south of the fire, rain was barely reported in Penticton, and very little seemed to drop anywhere else. But on the eastern front, well ... prayers were answered that night.

I don't know how many other people had prayed, but I recall praying for the seed of a major storm to start in the mid-Pacific, because, given the forecast for dry and hot weather continuing, it seemed like this was the only way any rain could possibly arrive.

Even today, it's very hard to find any record of this rainfall, or the role it played in slowing the fire. The rain of August 22nd: Kelowna's unacknowledged miracle.

Photos: Aug 22 2003 Burning

Other Images (and index)

As recorded by Jay Walker

Faiths Faces Kelowna

Sunday, July 09, 2006

St. David's Presbyterian Church Kelowna

Address: 271 Glenmore Road
Date & Service Attended: Sunday July 9th 2006, 10AM
Pastor/Priest/Leader: Pastor Richard Moffat

Sermon: Streams of Living Water - Holy Spirit Adventure - Part 5 (A contemplation mostly of Ephesians 5:18-25)
Pastor Richard Moffat, a Scotsman (I think) with a moderate accent - occasionally, a little tough for me to understand, delivered the sermon with modest amounts of humour.

The lead thought was that unlike a glass of sugar and water which can become saturated and the water thus refuses any more sugar, one can never become too saturated with the holy spirit. There are four consequences of being filled with the spirit:
  1. I will speak in a new way;
  2. I will have a melodious heart;
  3. I will be a thankful person;
  4. I am willing to submit to others, even when in leadership (servant leadership).
Speaking in a new way was said to include sharing with one another; Christian fellowship. I understood it to be saying the right thing, in the right way.

Having a melodious heart comes from being happy within the lord, and then song spontaneously wants to come up through us. If our heart is melodious, we are almost certainly filled with spirit.

Being a thankful person was stated to be a matter of obedience, recognizing that we are right where God wants us to be at the time. It is impossible to be filled with the spirit, and to be cranky or grumbling at the same time.

Finally, submitting to others is also a sign of being filled with the spirit. Wives must submit to husbands, and husbands must submit to wives, by placing them in the primary decision-making role, by respecting their opinion, and by not trying to control them. When wives are placed in this position of respect, they do not have any problem yielding to husbands.

For those in leadership positions, this means turning to a model of servant leadership, which will enhance your effectiveness, increase your enjoyment and reduce your stress, compared to a bullying type of leadership.

Pastor Moffat further added a few more thoughts:
  • Walk in conscious dependence on the lord;
  • Be gracious and tolerant of others - the lord uses other people too for his purposes - perhaps even ones you don't particularly like;
  • Don't force your own experiences on others as being absolutely correct and the only way forward - being tolerant is a sign of growing wisdom.
Other parts of the service: Typical hymns (four singers/musicians) leaning towards more traditional; a soloist; prayers.

My feelings/thoughts:
I enjoyed the sermon, and the balance of the service was satisfactory to me. I will try to incorporate the things he talked about this week into my life, particularly the first one, which is probably where I am weakest of the four items.

I particularly liked the part about being thankful - I often muse that we in Canada, in this society, are so unbelievably lucky, compared to so many others around the world, or just looking back into the very recent past. I hope others recognize our good fortune too.

I also liked very much the fact of the prayer - when I've been to these prayers before, and we are praying for this or that, it seems more like the pastors lengthy prayer alone. Too often, there is no time to muster any energy towards the "stream of consciousness" prayer. This time, it was different - while the prayer was as long as it often is, Pastor Moffat allowed a brief pause of a couple of seconds before moving onto the next item in the prayer.

While the pastor often says "Let us pray", it more often feels like "Let me pray, and you ... well ... you can listen". Not in this case: I felt that I was personally able to effect a brief prayer/meditation on each particular item. In brief, I felt involved, and that I was actually praying too! Thanks Pastor Moffat.

Other things: (occasional comments on church goings on, or musings about the service, situation, etc.) Mission trip to Uganda, Spring 2007. Various fund-raisings.

My own very personal ranking on the service and sermon overall: [It felt "Average" to Me]

Religion: Christian
Denomination: Presbyterian
Size of Congregation: [Small]
Primary demographic appearance: [Older (mostly >40 years old)]
Was greeted/welcomed, made to feel welcome: [About three to eight times]
Service Started: 10:05AM
Service Finished: 11:17AM

Contact this church:
Phone: 762-0624
Web-links: Main church [nil/unknown], youth, other [nil/unknown], blog.

Faiths Faces Kelowna

Basic information provided and my ratings ...

I generally hope to fill out all the ratings and information for each service I attend ... please add a comment if you'd like to see something else added ...

Date & Service Attended:


Other parts of the service:

My feelings/thoughts:

Other things: (occasional comments on church goings on, or musings about the service, situation, etc.)

My own very personal ranking on the service and sermon overall: [I loved it!] [I liked it a lot] [It felt "Average" to Me] [Not Really for Me] [Definitely Not for Me]

Religion: [Christian]
Denomination: xx
Size of Congregation: [Small] [Medium] [Large]
Primary demographic appearance: [Younger (mostly less than 40 years old)] [Mix (a good mix of below and above 40 years old)] [Older (mostly 40+ years old)]
Was greeted/welcomed and/or made to feel welcome: [Once or twice] [About three to eight times] [There was a whole lot of welcoming/maybe too much]
Service Started: xx.xxAM
Service Finished: xx.xxAM

Contact this church:
Web-links: Main church [nil/unknown], youth [nil/unknown], other [nil/unknown], blog [nil/unknown]

Faiths Faces Kelowna


This is a blog of my personal experience, of trying to get to at least one service of the various religious organizations around my home city, Kelowna. Based on the 2005/2006 Yellow Pages, it looks like there's some 73 different churches, mosques, temples, etc. that I'll be visiting, on the basis of one per week.

Currently, these are mostly of the Christian variety, including some five Anglican churches, nine Baptist churches, six Catholic, three Lutherans, five Seventh-Day Adventists, numerous other Christian "varieties", one Morman, one Islamic, two Sikh, and one Buddhist. As there doesn't appear to be a Jewish synagogue here, I may take that experience in, in another city.

I expect that this blog and its format will evolve over the time I'm completing this experience. Further, it's intended as a wholly personal experience record, and my experience with, or slant on, with any particular organization/church/temple/sermon/service etc. might be quite different from yours.

I hope to give a little bit of background about that particular church, temple, etc., as well as the sermon/major teaching of that day. Again, my perception may differ from your own. I may also post personal musings and experiences that relate to sermons given, or tangential experiences and thoughts.

My own leanings at the outset of this experience toward any particular branch of religion falls more within the Gandhi camp than anything else, quoted as follows:
Gandhi's religion was spiritual humanism because he declared that the service of the poor whom he called "Daridranarayana" is a true service of God. In other words, Gandhi found God amidst his creation; this creation is confined not only to India, his own land and not Hinduism alone, the religion to which he belonged. It consisted of men belonging to different land and different religions. ... The best principle of different religions, he felt, should be assimilated for the advancement of our society. (Source)
I hope you will enjoy my blog, and use it as one vehicle to explore your own spirituality and faith - no matter what religion it is based on....

Jay Walker