Tag Archives: Nanaimo

Stormpocalypse 2018: We were not ready

It’s been quite exciting here on Vancouver Island the past few days. Thursday December 20th we were hit with one of the largest windstorm’s BC has seen in recent years. Off the coast of Tofino wind gages clocked hurricane force speeds. Waves were over 20 feet high. Thousands of trees fell knocking out powerlines, homes, and blocking roads. Ferries were canceled. Schools were closed. It was chaos. We were not ready.

The water treatment plant first suffered a power outage. Then the back up generator failed. Once back online, the mechanical failure was beyond repair for over 36 hours. We were not ready.

Grocery stores that had power sold out of bottled water within minutes. It took the City of Nanaimo more than 24 hours to set up emergency warming stations. Hundreds of thousands were without power. Some still are without power and will be until well after Christmas. We were not ready.

Some residents had back-up stores of food and water. Many had no heating, no method of cooking, no way to wash themselves, communication was horrid. Most notifications went through social media. With no access to electricity, no wi-fi, and no cell service as phone batteries died—residents were in the dark literally and figuratively as workers and volunteers worked (and continue to work) around the clock to restore services. We were not ready.

As a resident of Nanaimo, located directly on an active fault line, I’m concerned at the City’s (and the province’s) complete utter lack of adequate contingency planning. How is it that we have a multi-million dollar brand new water treatment plant that had such a catastrophic failure after a wind storm? What if this was an earthquake situation? With the amount of seismic activity we’ve had of late registering at 5.0 or better, it’s scary to think about what would happen. Residents do not have enough food or water to make it through more than a day or two.

At our house, we went through our very expensive emergency kit and noticed it didn’t even have a real first-aid kit. We’ve since remedied that. We saw the storm coming for days and people went on about their business like it wasn’t coming. As the storm hit, and in the aftermath, shopping malls remained open even though traffic lights were out causing 34km long traffic jams on the main highway. This blocked emergency service routes. But people still got to do their Christmas shopping, so crisis averted I guess.

Some took the chaos seriously, but most did not. Businesses were posting on social media that they were still open and available for holiday shoppers. Restaurants were maxed out and turning people away. No food supply shelters were set up, or are set up. The gulf islands are still without power, food, and water. No state of emergency has been declared, and it is unlikely that it will occur.

Another storm hit Vancouver Island Saturday night. A look at the forecast shows we will have multiple systems of varying strength continue to hit us until the end of December. Clean up is taking a very long time. BCHydro has sent ferries of linemen and crew trucks to help with over 800 workers arriving by Sunday morning (according to BCHydro’s website).

Food is spoiling in grocery stores as power is yet to be restored in some communities. The local government continues to ask us to have patience. I am extremely disappointed in how this was handled and the utter lack of emergency preparedness of local government for any kind of large-scale disaster. I am very thankful Nanaimo has just elected a new council and new mayor who unfortunately inherited this mess weeks before it came to light. Here’s hoping they learn quickly from this event as climate change will only increase the frequency of similar incidents.

Will we be ready for the next one? My house is. I can’t speak for the rest of the region, but one would hope so.

Hub City Cinema Society: The Oscars 2017

Unfortunately, the most shocking event of the 2017 Academy Awards will not be fashion, political, or celebrity relationship oriented. The shocker was when Warren Beatty announced La La Land as the winner of Best Picture when he was handed the wrong envelope on live tv. Well, that was awkward.

30 of us gathered at Piper’s Pub, in Nanaimo BC, dressed in our finest to celebrate this season’s best and brightest in the film industry. In the true spirit of the show must go one, Hub City Cinema Society (HCCS) was not going to let a last-minute venue change steal the show.  We were greeted by photographers and a red carpet to get us in the mood. Guests were more than happy to purchase their own food and beverages at Pipers while watching the live broadcast of the Oscars.

During commercial break, an Oscar themed trivia game gave guests the chance to win a $25.00 gift card (donated by one of HCCS’ sponsors).

As of May 2017, HCCS will have been going steady for four years. This year, 2017, they have the privilege of receiving two grants (as well as many donations from local sponsors). To learn more about how you can be involved with HCCS or to find out what they’re up to, click here : www.hubcitycinema.ca.

This year’s contenders were of a high-caliber. More than once, guest were at odds in their predictions of who would take each category. Some notable awards of the evening were: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them-Best Costume Design, Casey Affleck-Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, Emma Stone-Best Actress for La La Land and lastly, Moonlight-Best Picture.

Manchester by the Sea was under the Amazon umbrella-this is a game changer. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Netflix or Hulu at the Oscars in the not too distant future. There were many firsts tonight. Thanks to HCCS for hosting.

My First Queer Church

Do you know what it’s like to be in a church where there’s only one heterosexual couple? If you’re like most of us, you don’t.

What you probably can relate to is being excluded by the church. Like me, you’ve been refused communion, been refused the opportunity to use your gifts, and just generally not invited to church functions that are not outreach oriented.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend The Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship. I was insecure, skeptical as to what everyone being welcome meant, and was so hurt and broken by the Body of Christ that it seemed easier to avoid new things than take a chance. My friend Tori, a trans woman not that it matters….but let’s face it, it does, invited me for the weekend.img_1434

I was housed by her friend Jack, a trans man who has hand written scripture verses as artwork hanging all over the house. I was able to decompress from the past decade of suppressing my sexuality, be validated and be cared for.

On Sunday, we went for brunch like a bunch of cliche LGBTQ friends….but no, I did not have mimosas.  Then we went to help set up for church. Church happens in an old banquet hall at 4pm every Sunday. It’s a place where the motto is “Everyone is Welcome, and we mean it!”. This phrase is displayed on the overhead projector for all to see, and they really do mean it! There’s people from all walks of life, pets and an online church following. No one singles you out but everyone makes you feel welcome. There’s hugging, worship, prayer and communion.img_1439

Two things from my time at this church brought me to tears and healed my wounded heart for the first time in a very long time.

First, I was invited to play the piano after soundcheck was completed. See, my friend Tori that I mentioned before knew that I used to be a worship leader. She knew that I had been missing that part of my life within the church, and we got there early specifically so that I’d have that opportunity. At first, I felt awkward, and then something beautiful happened. I let my guard down. I played like I hadn’t had a two year break from the piano. I sang from the depth of my soul–from my pain, from my joy of belonging, from my burden of being one of the marginalized at the edge of the church. In those moments, I felt close to God again, I felt his love, I felt that my calling had not changed, and I felt at home.

Second, after listening to Sarah (a trans woman) bring a glorious truth filled word about God’s generosity and obedience in giving–we had communion. As the helpers passed out the wafer and the juice, I watched in awe as there was zero trace of pretence and awkwardness–as we sometimes notice in Contemporary Church. Each member of the congregation was keenly aware of the preciousness of those around them. I began to tear up. Each one of these folks believes that I am perfect as made and perfect in Christ. At no time were we asked to examine our hearts before taking communion. At no time were pet sins mentioned requiring repentance before God as a preemptive deed leading up to the Eucharist.

We were covered by grace, created in the image of God and therefore invited to remember how that good news happened. It was the first time I was invited to participate in communion since April. I didn’t realize how important those rituals, of remembering Jesus together with other believers, were. I didn’t realize how much I was in survival mode. Mostly, I just didn’t realize.

I’m going to go back.

More importantly, I am going to help the same thing to happen here.img_1430

5 Things I Learned from Discussing Sexuality with a Pastor

Recently, I did something that I was afraid to do. I talked with a local pastor about LGBTQ people and their relationship with the church. I was scared before I went, even though I know this person and knew the content of the conversation, that it was going to be about trying to convince one another of opposing views. Here’s what I learned:

1) Bridging is bumpy.

One of the most helpful things we did for one another at the start of the discussion is define our terms and our lack of exhaustive knowledge on the material we were about to discuss. We laughed a bunch and admitted that it felt weird to talk this openly about being “not straight” (as I put it) and loving Jesus.

2) Something’s got to change.

The reason for today’s conversation was the recognition that when people come out as LGBTQ they feel, for one reason or another, they need to leave the church. LGBTQ Christians feel like they have to choose between fellowship with people who love Jesus and worshipping/serving together and their sexual orientation. We both recognize that conversations need to be had at an open table. This table needs to have listening ears on both sides–not to convince each other about theological ideologies but to listen to one another with empathy and understanding. There will be an “us” and “them” as long as we talk past one another.

3) People are hungry.

Pastors and lay workers within the church (read many churches, not one specific church) are meeting outside of Sunday services with LGBTQ community members to learn how to engage with people and begin ministering out of a place of love. What’s being discovered is the amount of people who were raised in church, attended youth group, and even went to Bible College who identify as other than straight and left the church. They desire greatly to worship alongside other believers without being seen solely for whom they love. They want to be seen as God’s children walking out faith.

4) We don’t agree on every sin.

In the course of our conversation, we discussed whether or not conservative and mainstream Christian churches would be able to understand that LGBTQ Christians do not believe that their orientation is sin. We talked about how wide the spectrum is within the LGBTQ community–where some hold to traditional male/female marriage teachings opting for celibacy as the way to honour God with a same gender orientation and others hold to same-gender long term committed marriage. Similarly, Christians don’t all agree on alcohol consumption, secular movies and entertainment, swearing and modesty.

5) One important question remained.

How can we remove the stigma, isolation and fear for those who come out in faith communities?

There’s a few ways to do this. All of them take a long time.

First, sexuality regardless of straight or LGBTQ needs to be discussed in the context of church teaching. How can we expect a conversation round sexual orientation and inclusion if we can’t even discuss sex in the context of marriage? It is astounding the amount of young adult Christians who didn’t know how their body worked…or why it worked that way when I was at Bible College–because it was dirty and taboo.

Second, we need to create a culture where someone disclosing sexual orientation, sexual confusion or gender related questions is met with compassion and not solutions. Thank them for sharing with you. Admit that it must have been scary and difficult to talk about. Let them know that your love for them has not and will not change. Maybe consider waiting until later to discuss they why and how they know or are questioning. First just hold them and tell them it will be okay.

Third, how can the church make space for LGBTQ people and families to participate in church? We discussed the various reformations in church culture: women in ministry, divorced leaders, children outside of marriage–and how the church has embraced and including those once marginalized groups (some better than others). In light of those revelations of grace, how can the same attitudes be applied to the LGBTQ people in our communities.

What about you? Did you feel at one time or another like you had to choose between living authentically and being accepted? How can we walk with you?

Truth Telling: Canadian Edition

I never really thought about how much my Canadian culture effects what I do in uncomfortable situations. This past Saturday, our local PRIDE Association hosted a vigil to IMG_1018show solidarity and pay respects to those lost and effected by the mass shooting in Orlando at The Pulse nightclub.

Standing in the circle, listening to each of the speakers share from the heart, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the loss, I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the pain of losing people who are just like me, I wasn’t even uncomfortable that this was the first time I attended something as a fully out person–I was uncomfortable because I spent 29 years of my life contributing to this type of hateIMG_1026.

 

 

In Canadian culture, it’s abhorrent to be rude intentionally to someone else. To contradict them or correct them publicly is a kin to assault. People are encouraged to “mind their own business” and gossip about it in hushed whispers to their neighbours or friends sitting beside them. We whisper and point, roll our eyes in disgust or move to another spot on the bus. Very rarely does one hear someone publicly call out another for inappropriate behaviour–because that would go against Canada’s Tolerance. When does being polite pour gasoline on a silent and raging fire?

Every single time I allow someone to cause others pain, I am fueling the type of hate and homophobia that led to this and many other violent tragedies. One of the speakers’ words echoes in my heart: “now is the time to refuse to let our friends and families say something is so gay. Now is the time to audibly say ‘no, that is not acceptable’ when we see anyone being bullied or put down. Now is the time to fight harder than ever for equal rights. Above all, now is the time to stop making those same mistakes with other minorities.”

Together is the only way forward. Prejudice, homophobia and blind hatred is going to tear this world apart unless people who are remaining silent start to speak. The next time one of your friends tells a racist joke, tell them that’s not acceptable. When they tell you to lighten up, remind them how many people died because of that attitude.

The next time you hear a stranger say something cruel in the mall, don’t just ignore it. Call them out or comfort the person being targeted. Kindness is another weapon against hatred. If you’re afraid of speaking out, imagine how afraid that person being verbally and emotionally assaulted is every time they need to go to the mall for new clothes.

Stand up for the humane treatment of all people. Every single person deserves to live their life with dignity. We are all created in the image of God. There are no caveats in scripture for what constitutes a human, so there’s no need for it in culture.