Get in tune (#1, October 2001)
As a young teen I was always in awe of my father when he tuned pipe organs in the summers to
earn a little extra income. I'd go into the pipe room with him to see dozens of metal pipes,
of various sizes, all laid out for cleaning and tuning. A few taps could restore one to
perfect pitch. As I stood amongst the ranks of pipes, following completion of the task he
would apply his "test pattern" tune of J.S. Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary at full power.
It thundered throughout the sanctuary!
Country churches, however, tended to have old pump reed organs which you couldn't tune. The
reeds were brass -but still needed cleaning. He trusted me to help him with that job and,
again, a small country congregation had an organ worthy of the praise of God.
However, for some instruments, such as the piano, a tuning fork is required. A tuning fork
would be essential if ten pianos were to play together and be in tune. Jesus is our 'tuning fork'
who brings harmony for Christians who have their eyes on Christ, and amongst churches who
make Christ the centre of their life.
Occasionally I bring out my old guitar. I used to play it a lot. Invariably it needs tuning.
I can tune it to my pitch pipe, but when I do I can't sing to it! It' s too high. What do I
do ? I tune my guitar to my voice. It's easier for me to sing, but nobody can play with me!
I have never been able to play with another guitar or piano!
Are you like that? Do you try to stand alone with your own beliefs about God? Do you tune
your faith to your own spiritual peculiarities? Or, does the Word of God set the tone in
your faith? Are you in tune with Jesus?
As you start a new relationship with your new minister James Hurd this December, I invite
you to be intentional about your faith and in tune with Jesus. Get involved and get in
tune. Let beautiful harmonies arise as a chorus from your midst as you serve and praise
our Lord together! Paul calls this the fruit of the Spirit and truly it is a beautiful
sound. "But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who
belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and
desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives." Galatians 5: 22- 25
Interim Moderator for Parkwood
& Minister of Grace Orleans Presbyterian Church, Ottawa
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A biographical note on our new pastor (#2, October 2001)
The Revíd Mr. James T. Hurd, whose call to Parkwood Church was sustained
by the Presbytery of Ottawa on July 30th and by the Presbytery of St.
John on August 13th, is due to be inducted as pastor at Parkwood on
December 2, 2001, God willing.
He was ordained June 15, 1986 by the Presbytery of East Toronto,
following studies at the University of Toronto and Knox College, and for
five and half years served as minister at Knox Church, Wanham and Munro
Church, Blueberry Mtn., AB. Subsequently, he was called to St. Paulís
Church, Woodstock, New Brunswick, where he is completing nearly ten
years of service.
In the process of responding to the vacancy committee, he shared these
reflections on the mission and ministry to which Jesus Christ calls His
Vision and Approach to Ministry
The body of Christ is called to bear witness in the world in the present
age to Jesus Christ , who is "the way, the truth, and the life", through
whom alone men and women, young and old alike, come to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the members of Christís body to enable
the body to live together in faith, hope, and love, and to reach out to
the world in speech and in action with the good news that Jesus Christ
is the friend and Saviour of sinners, and the Lord of all.
Pastors are called to share, with ruling elders, in the oversight and
nurture of the flock of God. Such ministry includes preaching the
gospel, teaching the word of God, leading God-honouring, Christ-centred,
and Spirit-empowered worship. The body of Christ is called to live
together in unity and in fellowship, bearing one anotherís burdens,
spurring one another on to love and good deeds, and seeking to make
disciples of Jesus Christ in all places.
Priorities in ministry include preaching, worship, visitation of the
sick, bereaved, and those inquiring about faith or in spiritual
distress, teaching and bible study designed to motivate, assist, and
encourage members to live for Christ and to point others to Him;
administration, and equipping of elders and other leaders to give
leadership in pastoral care and discipleship.
A vision of a healthy congregation includes concern for the nurture of
faith in children and youth, worship that embodies the strengths of our
reformed heritage but which is also fresh and contemporary, a passion to
reach others for Christ, giving attention to both spiritual and physical
needs in the local community, and participation in the worldwide mission
of the church, both within and beyond the national church.
Session responsibilities include provision for and leadership in
worship, Christian education, discipleship and nurture, local outreach
and global mission, administration, and future vision and planning.
Ministry in the wider church
Mr. Hurd has participated actively in the life of the wider church in
Canada. For the past two years, he has served as Devotional Editor for
the PCCWeb *Daily* devotional webpage, which can be viewed at
http://daily.presbycan.ca/ and is available free of charge to some 4000
subscribers via e-mail each day.
He has been a commissioner to the General Assembly on five occasions, in
1987, 1990, 1994, 1997, and 2000, after attending the Assembly in Ottawa
in 1981 as a Young Adult Observer. Since 1997, he has served as a
member of the Assembly Council. Prior to that, he was a member by
correspondence of the Committee on Church Doctrine for a three-year
term. During the past year, he has been Acting Clerk of the Synod of
the Atlantic Provinces.
Many summers in childhood and youth were spent at Dorothy Lake Camp, in
northern Ontario, and he was Camp Manager there from 1979 to 1983; he
served as Secretary of the Camp Board of the Synod of Toronto and
Kingston from 1981 to 1986. During part of his tenure in the west, he
convened the Committee on Youth Ministry for the Synod of Alberta.
He has been involved with the Renewal Fellowship within the Presbyterian
Church in Canada since its inception, and has been a member of the
Atlantic Task Force since 1996.
Mr. Hurd has also valued co-operation within the wider body of Christ in
the work of the gospel, serving as President of the Woodstock and
District Ministerial Association, as Secretary of the Board of
Directors for the Woodstock-Houlton Can-Am Crusade, an
inter-denominational and cross-border undertaking in Woodstock, NB and
Houlton, ME in 1998 in conjunction with the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association. He has also served co-operatively as a member of the
Pastoral Care Committee for the local hospital in Woodstock, NB for
James and his wife Karen have two daughters: Jennifer, who will turn
nine in November, and Janet, who is six. They are in the process of
purchasing a home in the Barrhaven area of Nepean, and look forward with
anticipation to arrival in Ottawa on November 30th, and to worship at
Parkwood Church on the first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd.
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Read this later (November 2001)
You've probably got the same problem I have. I was reminded of it when I read a cartoon showing
four empty chairs arranged in a circle. The caption read, "Encounter group for procrastinators."
Right. Every so often I realize I'm procrastinating on some aspect of my life or ministry and
I write myself a not: "NO PROCRASTINATING!" Sometimes I feel like I need to find a Procrastinators
Anonymous Club. But, apparently they have yet to meet and the president, who was elected in 1971,
has yet to be installed. They say that if you keep putting things off, you will find that, most
of the time, they never needed to be done in the first place. So I guess procrastination saves
a lot of time. I mean, why paint your house? They're eventually going to put a ring road around
Ottawa - maybe it will go through your house!
My propensity to procrastinate makes me feel discouraged. Not keeping my word to myself deflates me.
It made me recently turn to Scripture where I noticed some new things about Jesus. I read in the
Gospels of what Jesus said and did and I realized that He did everything He said He would. But
it was precious little! He said three times that He was going to die for us and rise again, and
He did. He told the disciples that He would meet them in the Galilee after the resurrection
(Mark 14:28) and in Mark 13:26-27 He tells us that He will come again. But that's all He said
He would do. All the rest He just DID! He rarely said, "I will." For Jesus, there was no gap
between His intentions and His actions. He lived and died in the present tense so we could have
a future with Him.
Now, I've got some not so good excuses for being poor at keeping my word to myself. Like you
I tend to live life in the fast lane and as a pastor I juggle all sorts of information, needs,
commitments, responsibilities, goals, hopes, dreams and intentions. Every so often I'll drop
one. But I really want to be able to keep my word to myself. I know that in Jesus there is
strength to do so and that, as I pray, there is forgiveness also. So I will just keep working
on this aspect of my witness for Christ. But, I do believe now that when Paul said, "I can do
all things through Christ who strengthens me" - that he also meant to include procrastination!
Interim Moderator for Parkwood
& Minister of Grace Orleans Presbyterian Church, Ottawa
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Address change? (December 2001 - January 2002)
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they
will call him Immanuel -- which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1: 23, NIV)
Change of address cards are piled in my study as I write this. We are
moving, and looking forward very much to our arrival at Parkwood
December 1st. Change of address announcements, whether sent via e-mail
or Canada Post, are necessary to notify family, friends, and colleagues
where to find us. Certain businesses and government offices also need or
want to know our whereabouts.
The celebration of Christmas is about the change of an address -- Godís
address. God chose one day, 2000 years ago, to change His address. The
angelic announcement indicated, "God with us" -- the eternal Creator of
the ends of the heavens and the earth had stepped into time and space.
God is "now residing" with us, as James Montgomery in the carol, "Angels
from the realms of glory" puts it.
I would not get too far, though, in ensuring the proper re-direction of
my mail, if I were merely to post a note on a bulletin board in
cyberspace or publish my change of address in the Royal Gazette. It is
necessary that individual notices be sent, to each and every person or
entity with whom I correspond.
This is so, and more, with Godís change of address. He desires not only
to reside in the world he has created, but in the hearts and lives of
those whom He has made in His likeness. God is moving, today, into the
lives of men and women, young and old, teenagers and grandparents. Jesus
comes knocking, seeking a home in each of our hearts -- wanting our
lives to signal, "God lives here!"
Have you received His change of address announcement? Has He made your
heart His home? My prayer is that the Christmas season will be a
celebration of His presence in our midst -- in every heart, in every
home, in the household of faith, and in the communities in which we
Residing in Christ, and soon, God willing, to be residing in Ottawa, and
as your pastor,
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Entering the new year -- together, and with God (February 2002)
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the
Lordís great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself,
ĎThe Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.í The Lord is
good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. (Lamentations 3: 21-25, NIV)
Did you make a New Yearís resolution? The new year gives an opportunity
to make some new beginnings. For some, it means a new job, or a search
for one. For others, it means a new place of residence. For still
others, it means a new schedule, or assignment. For all, it means a new
invitation from God to walk in step with His Spirit as followers of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
For me, all of these things -- and more -- are new. Lest I run madly off
in all directions at once, one of my challenges is to set some
Printed on the front of our bulletin each week is a statement publishing
the purpose of Parkwood Presbyterian Church: "The purpose of Parkwood is
to enable individuals and families to discover, grow in, and share the
love of God found in Jesus Christ."
In coming to serve as pastor of the congregation, it is appropriate that
I address this purpose. In undertaking to do so, I have developed some
priorities, all of which happen to begin with the letter "P".
1. Prayer - The strength of the church is in her prayers. One of the
callings of a minister is to listen to the voice of God, speaking in the
scriptures, and to seek to discern how His voice addresses our
contemporary situation. Part of this discernment takes place through
conversation with God in prayer. Another key ingredient in the mix of
pastoral activities is intercession -- to lift up the congregation in
prayer before the throne of grace. Any congregation seeking to attempt
to serve God faithfully must not outrun its prayers, and in beginning
together on the road of service it is most important that we pray
together. It is not by chance that we have chosen to focus our first
series of sermons on the Lordís Prayer.
2. People - The life of any congregation is in its people. One of my
priorities is to learn names and faces, and how both go together. In the
weeks and months to come, and in co-operation with the elders, I hope to
visit the individuals and homes who are part of the Parkwood family. The
photo directory prepared some seven years ago is an aid in
identification, but we could all make good use of a new edition.
3. Preaching - The shepherd is called to feed the flock, and to lead
them to good grazing ground. The preparation of good meals takes time
and effort; likewise the preparation of good sermons must occupy the
time and energy of a pastor who is seeking -- in obedience to Christ the
Chief Shepherd -- to be a faithful under-shepherd. I am grateful for the
help of those who have assisted in unpacking and organising my library.
I value the labours of all who undertake tasks which enable me to devote
valuable time to reading and reflecting on the scriptures.
4. Planning - The coach of a team needs a plan, so that the whole will
function effectively together, reaching for excellence and seeking to
achieve future goals. In seeking to develop a comprehensive vision for
the future work and witness of the congregation, careful planning is
required. One of the first steps in this process is to identify and
understand existing programmes, with an eye to constructive evaluation
in due progress. I am pleased that our Youth and Outreach Director, Ian
Forest-Jones, is working on this project.
Please feel free to share with me your requests for prayer, and by all
means take advantage of the opportunities offered for worship, study,
fellowship, and service together.
I would leave you with one practical request. If you have access to
e-mail on a regular basis, please send me a short message to
email@example.com so that
I will have your e-mail address. We hope in time to develop a
comprehensive e-mail list so that we can utilise electronic communication
effectively within the congregation.
Grateful for Godís faithfulness, and anticipating His promised mercies,
which are indeed "new every morning".
Your servant in Christ,
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A Dose of Encouragement (March 2002)
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." (I Thessalonians 5: 11)
Good things sometimes come in small packages. Medicine that helps us to live with certain
conditions or diseases is often dispensed one pill at a time. Some of us learned as children
that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". Others are familiar with the Chinese proverb
that the longest journey begins with a single step. A new brick building is unveiled to
onlookers one brick at a time.
Building the church of Jesus Christ unfolds in a similar way, but the materials are not
pills or apples or steps or bricks. A key ingredient, though, is encouragement.
Encouragement is a gift. When we are told in the Bible to offer ourselves as living
sacrifices, we are reminded that we all have been given different gifts. If one's
gift is encouraging, "let him encourage" (Rom. 12: 8). Though some are especially
gifted, the instruction to "encourage one another" written to the Thessalonians and
again in the letter to the Hebrews is directed to all believers. We need to take
note of the example of those who are especially gifted in encouraging others, and
learn from them how to encourage others. Elders are to be examples. One of the
consequences of requiring elders "to hold firmly to the trustworthy message" is
that they will be able "to encourage others by sound doctrine." (Titus 1: 9).
Primarily God encourages his people through one another.
When Paul wanted to encourage the Ephesians, he sent Tychicus: "I am sending
him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he
may encourage you." (Eph. 6: 22) He does the same for the Colossians: "that
he may encourage your hearts." (Col. 4: 8) When Paul couldn't go to see the
Thessalonians, he wrote and told them that he had sent Timothy "to strengthen
and encourage you in your faith." (I Thess. 3: 2). In giving counsel to Timothy
concerning the conduct of his ministry, Paul wrote, "Preach the Word; be
prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage." (II Tim. 4: 2)
Bad news needs to be accompanied by encouragement. When God forbade Moses
to enter the promised land because of his sin, he said, "But your assistant,
Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel
to inherit it." (Deut. 1: 38 and 3: 28). When David withdrew to his room to
mourn the death of his son Absalom, Joab, the commander of army, told him,
"Now go out and encourage your men," and all that David needed to do to lift
their spirits and secure their loyalty was to sit in view of the people.
(II Sam. 19: 7-8) When Paul reminded Titus that he needed to rebuke sin,
he coupled rebuke with encouragement: "Encourage and rebuke with all authority."
(Tit. 2: 15)
At our recent annual congregational meeting, I was reflecting upon the many
aspects of the work and witness of Parkwood Church, and I was struck by how
many different people make significant contributions to the ministry of the
congregation. Many hearts and hands contribute to the life and witness of
the congregation. At times, though, it is easy for each of us to be so busy
"in my little corner" that we fail to give attention to what else is going on.
Obviously one must "pick and choose" the groups or activities in which one is
going to participate. None of us can or should do everything. Yet each of us
needs to remember that many are engaged in ministry or service that isn't
always evident; many do much work "behind the scenes". One of the best ways
to enhance the ministry of the congregation is to develop an eye for what
others are doing, and offer a little encouragement.
What a difference a daily dose of encouragement makes!
Encouragement may take many forms. It might be a smile, or a word of
appreciation. It could be a card of thanks, acknowledging a job well
done or an effort sincerely contributed. A telephone call or an e-mail
message saying, "I am thankful for your contribution in the congregation,
and I am offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God for you," and a prayer
thus offered, has tremendous capacity for strengthening the bonds within
the family of God and in building up the body of Christ.
Let us resolve to look for ways to encourage one another, and let us see our
burdens becoming lighter and our service for Christ more joyful and satisfying.
If each of us offered each day a dose of encouragement to someone in the body
of Christ, God alone knows how well the church would be sustained and would grow.
"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today." (Hebrews 3: 13)
In Christ, with encouragement,
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Thoughts on spring (April 2002)
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10)
Spring is here ... or at least we have had a taste. Most of us long for more -- warmer temperatures, drier streets,
brighter afternoons and longer days. Before our pleasure is marred by the appearance of black flies and the circulation
of pollen, let us pause and give unrestrained thanks.
Spring heralds new life. There is new growth in the garden and the forest. Green replaces grey (or brown) as the
dominant colour. Chattering crows and scurrying squirrels bring the yard to life.
The whole of the creation declares the majesty and the beauty of God the Creator -- the tiny flowers and the
towering fir trees, the birds of the air and fish in the water, the sun and the wind, and even the rain that
washes away the salt and the sand.
Beyond the renewed life and energy in the plant and animal kingdoms, spring offers the promise of new life in
human relationships. It is possible to stand on the sidewalk and comfortably chat with neighbours, enabling
new relationships to be formed or former ones to be renewed. The impediments of travel in ice and snow are
removed, encouraging walks or drives for visits with family and friends. Outdoor entertaining and hiking or
camping expeditions are again more attractive options for shared activities.
The arrival of spring coincides with the celebration of Easter. We mark the resurrection of Jesus -- God has brought
back life from death. The Saviour who has suffered is set free from the bonds of death to life again. Out from the
dark, cold tomb has come the light and warmth of the risen Jesus. He lives, and he lives to give life to all who
would truly live.
Let us rejoice in the coming of spring, affirming with thanksgiving that God is renewing the earth once again. Let
us use the freedom and energy offered by the season, and reach out to others around us, demonstrating love for our
neighbour as ourselves. Let us also lay hold of the promise of life, embracing Jesus as our Saviour and life-giving
With gladness and joy in the arrival of spring and its promise, and abounding in the life abundant given me in
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On calling and answering (May 2002)
"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help,
and he will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58: 9, NIV)
The installation of a new telephone system in our church building during
the past month has given many opportunities for reflection. Until now,
there has only been one telephone line into the building, which has
meant that those calling the church have often had great difficulty
getting through. With at least three of us in the office most mornings,
it has also often been difficult to find a moment when the telephone is
free to make outgoing calls. The new system provides much more
flexibility, allows for easier communication within the building, and
permits messages to be left for specific individuals.
It has taken those of us in the office, however, a while to get used to
the new system. Several times the telephone has rung, but we have not
known how to answer it! Retrieving messages has been a challenge. One
day, when all the íphones were "dead" because of a technical problem at
the telephone pole outside, the only place inside the building where we
could get a "live" line to call out or to retrieve messages left on the
answering service was in the furnace room. We are thankful that our
Administrative Assistant is not claustrophobic! Sometimes callers have
been routed to the fax machine, and we have had to pick up the receiver
on the fax machine to talk to people. Sadly, on occasion, we have "lost"
callers, while trying to transfer them from one extension to another.
Gradually we are getting these problems ironed out. We are very grateful
for the labours and support of those on the Finance and Maintenance
Committee who have invested much time and effort in researching and
installing the new system.
With all our modern means of communication -- including voice messages,
e-mail, and plain old two-way telephone calls -- I cannot help, however,
but reflect upon how much better God is at answering the calls of His
people. Thousands of years before Alexander Graham Bell thought of
inventing the telephone, and before the advent of computers and
talkswitches gave us the facility to transfer calls or record messages,
God had the capacity to listen. He could and still can take incoming
calls from everyone at once, and is never confused about the callerís
identity. His wires are never crossed and the messages are never
garbled. He is always available to answer, and when He speaks, what He
says is what we need to hear.
"This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed
it and established it -- the Lord is his name: ĎCall to me and I will
answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.í"
(Jeremiah 33: 2-3)
"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will
hear." (Isaiah 65: 24)
With confidence, therefore, we can join the psalmists in calling upon
- Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. (Ps. 27: 7)
- In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (Ps. 86: 7)
- I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. (Ps. 17: 6)
Jesus Christ has given us free and open access on Godís private line to
talk to Him at any time. Let us call without hesitation!
Sincerely, in Christ,
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Remembering God in the summer (June 2002)
"When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers,
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you -- a land with large, flourishing
cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you
did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you
did not plant -- then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you
do not forget the Lord." (Deuteronomy 6: 10 - 12, NIV)
Assuming our rather chilly spring days give way to warmer ones, summer provides
many incentives to be out-of-doors. For some it offers opportunities for travel.
We live in a large, flourishing country, and there are many things to enjoy.
Having only recently arrived in Ottawa, we have much to discover -- and our
discoveries have begun in our own backyard.
The previous owners of the home that we have purchased were great gardeners,
and left us a rich legacy of perennial plants which have been popping us through
the spring season. A beautiful collage of colour adorns our backyard. Tulips,
rosebushes, and a host of flowering plants the names of which we do not yet
know are everywhere in sight. We are truly thankful, and humbled, to be able
to enjoy the fruit of work we did not do.
In giving counsel to the Hebrew people, God told Moses to warn His people that
in the midst of God's rich blessings, they needed to be careful not to forget
the source from whom all those blessings spring.
The same is true for us. It is all too easy for the alluring sights and sounds
of summer to divert our attention from God who has created all things and who
sustains them. By all means, let us bask in the sunshine and enjoy the summer
breezes -- whether at the cottage or the beach, strolling the golf course or
wandering through the countryside -- but let us remember to turn to God in
prayers of thanksgiving and in songs of praise.
Opportunities for worship and fellowship at Parkwood this summer are focused
on two weekly activities. On Sundays, we will share in one combined service
at 10:00 a.m., beginning on June 23rd. A summer Vacation Sunday School will
be offered following the children's story, with a special invitation to
children in the neighbourhood to join us.
Secondly, during the months of July and August, a mid-week Wednesday Evening
Fellowship programme will give opportunity for recreation, reflection, and
fellowship together. Recreation will begin at 6:00 p.m., with both active
outdoor sports and more restful indoor games available. An exposition or
study on "The fruits of the Holy Spirit" will follow, with plans for separate
learning groupings for teens and children. At 8:15 p.m., cold drinks will be
available to encourage conversation and fellowship among friends and visitors
Whether the summer takes us far afield or keeps us close to home, let us ensure
that we find ways in worship and fellowship with God's people. Let us remember
the God whose creative genius gives us this wonderful season we call summer,
the Shepherd whose watchful care leads His sheep to enjoy green pastures, and
the Spirit who blows and breathes upon His people to produce abundant fruit in
our lives and in our life together.
With warm greetings, anticipating both warm weather and warm fellowship,