Monday, May 21, 2018

Responses & Reactions to Leaving Christianity, New Book About Decline of the Church in Canada























It was impossible to include reaction to Leaving Christianity: Changing Alliances in Canada since 1945 by Brian Clarke and Stuart Macdonald in my Free Press column—my column was already 1,900 words, and I’ve got as many words here again!

After reading the book, I contacted academics who study religion in Canada. I wanted to know their reaction—what did they think of the book?

Here’s what they told me.

Overall Response

The overall response to the book was positive, including a sense of gratitude for the enormous amount of work done by the authors.

“This book is the most comprehensive account available of the relatively recent history of the changes we have seen in Canadian Christianity in the last 70 years,” says Paul Bramadat, director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria.

“Their systematic and sober description is so valuable for scholars of Canadian religion, history, and society.”

“I think they're clearly right about the unaffiliated being the new mainstream or dominant group in Canada,” says Kevin Flatt, professor of history at Redeemer University College.

“I think they're also right that Canada is a difficult environment for church recruitment and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.”

“This book is long overdue,” says Lori Beaman, a professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change.

She describes the book as a “detailed and realistic look at statistical data from a range of sources to analyze the present status of Christianity in Canada.”

Rise of the “Nones”

There was no disagreement about the rise of the “nones,” although some wondered if that is a fixed category—some people who are currently among the “nones” might decide to seek greater religious involvement in the future.

Reg Bibby, a professor of sociology at the University of Lethbridge, agrees that the “no religion category has grown significantly,” but notes there is research to suggest it will level off over the next few decades—not keep growing as the authors suggest.

Plus, he says, “the pro-religious sector remains with us, and is being fueled and will continue to be fueled mightily by immigration, led by Catholics and Muslims.”

At the same time, being "low religious" doesn’t mean "no religious,” he says—Canadians continue to say they believe in God, or a higher power, and participate in religious activities such as prayer.

Impact on Society

Clarke and Macdonald suggest that decline in religion will have a significant on Canadian society—giving, volunteering, voting and other civic participation.

Nobody disagreed with that sentiment, but Beaman wonders if Canadians will come up with something to replace religion as a driver of civic engagement.

She asks: “Will new constellations of nonreligious service providers emerge, or will some religiously initiated and maintained services transform over time into nonreligious or non-affiliated services? Is that process already occurring?

“Are the social justice activities of Canadians being partially relocated to online action, amorphous communities and targeted strategic action that brings together issue-focused initiatives?

“Is the very nature of volunteering changing such that old measures do not adequately capture its new forms?”

She also wonders if the authors are too pessimistic about the state of Christianity in Canada—that Canada is now “post-Christian.”

“Christianity is woven through Canadian culture and society so tightly that it will be some time before the impact of reduced affiliation and limited Christian literacy are fully translated into public spaces and institutions,” she says.

She notes that God is referenced in the Charter, that “multiple Christian interveners regularly weigh in on issues like prostitution, assisted dying, and education that come before the Supreme Court of Canada,” and that Catholic hospitals and schools are still publicly funded.

Moreover, she says, Christian practices and symbols “are being rendered as ‘culture and heritage,’ which at least partially protects their presence in public spaces for the time being.”

But even if she doesn’t think Canada is now post-Christian, she agrees with the authors “we are well on our way.”

Conservative vs. Liberal

One of the strongest reactions came over how the decline in religion is impacting groups—and to how the authors seem to downplay the role of theological beliefs.

For Flatt, “I think it's clear from the evidence that churches' beliefs play some role, and specifically that more theologically conservative churches with definite beliefs tend to fare better than more liberal ones.”

It's not the only factor, he says, “not by a long shot.” But it is “an important one.”

The evidence is in, Flatt maintains: Mainline and liberal denominations that place a lower value on commitment are shrinking, while conservative denominations which have high commitment are growing or stable.

As a result, “I don't think it's crazy to argue that maybe the big theological differences between these two streams of Christianity play some role in their growth or decline,” he says.

He adds that “it turns out the growing churches are more theologically conservative, and that's one of the major factors explaining growth, even when controlling for lots of other things.”

At the same time, “churches of every stripe face strong ‘headwinds’ in contemporary Canada,” he says. “It's hard to grow a church here, period, no matter what your theology.”

Sam Reimer, a sociology professor at Crandall University, also feels that theological beliefs matter in terms of who comes and how long they say.

Conservative churches, he says, “tend to attract the more staunchly religious or most religiously committed,” people who are “slower to leave and less likely to be become 'nones'.”

He also notes that more conservative churches tend to place a high value on evangelism, “which boosts their numbers, if only slightly.”

He agrees with Flatt that “conservative or liberalness is not the only important factor on church growth. Conservative churches are affected by many of the same broader forces of secularism as liberal churches, which promote general decline across the board.”

However, he notes, “conservative churches do a better job of resisting cultural influences and holding on to their own, often with strong youth programs, which means they are more protected against secularism.”

For John Stackhouse, a professor of religious studies at Crandall, beliefs are also important, but not just because conservative churches tend to require higher commitment from their members.

What makes the difference for him is not just theology, but “the piety that goes with it: a genuine sense of interaction with the biblical God, with Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit, versus “God-as-you-conceive-the-Divine-to-Be” and spirituality on your own terms.”

Impact of Immigration

The one area where almost everyone thought the authors didn’t give enough attention in the book was to immigration.

It’s true that changing immigration patterns have changed over the decades, which is one of the reason why groups like the Presbyterians, Anglicans and Lutherans have seen declines—their pipeline of European co-religionists was severed.

But that doesn’t mean Christians aren’t still coming to Canada, as many of the people I interviewed noted.

In fact, 48% of all immigrants between 2006 and 2011 were Christians.

With an estimated 1 million immigrants expected over the next three years, if that figure holds  it means as many as 500,000 new Christians coming to Canada.

That won’t replace all the losses, of course. But it isn’t insignificant, either—especially when you consider these immigrants tend to be more devout than people born in Canada.

It was suggested that the groups that will benefit most from this influx of new believers will likely be more conservative groups, since Christians in the developing world tend to be more conservative and morally conservative.

As a result, “immigration is going to play a huge role in the future of Christianity in Canada,"  says Flatt.

Bibby agrees, noting that the global explosion of Catholicism and projected increases in immigration numbers for Canada over the next several decades means that immigration will potentially have a significant impact on the Canadian religious landscape.

Says Bibby: “Immigration has always shaped religion in Canada; in my mind, it is the key to understanding where things will be in the future.”

Rick Hiemstra, director of research for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, adds that these waves of Christians “from outside Canada could come and revitalize us.”

What this means for Canadian Christians, he says, is they “should welcome increased immigration.”

But Joel Thiessen, professor of sociology at Ambrose University, adds a word of caution; the unknown, he says, is “what will happen to second and third generation. Will the boost stand?”

The Future

Clarke and Macdonald are clear that the book isn’t meant to provide answers for how to respond.

But others have some ideas.

For Stackhouse, there’s something about conservative theology. But as importantly, is the need for churches—all of them—to do better when reaching out to Canadians.

“Studies have been showing how underfunded, poorly led, and otherwise weak are so many churches in Canada today,” he says.

Put another way, “if churches were all functioning as they should and these trends were still as they are, then, yes, the churches are doomed. But when churches manifestly are not doing even basic things well—good preaching, well conducted worship, strong Christian education, vital community life, effective mission—then one mustn’t over-interpret the statistics.”

Maybe, he says, “churches can improve how they cater to the market and thus reverse at least some of these trends.”

Thiessen, who also helps lead the Flourishing Congregations Institute, identifies at least three things church could do better.

First, be welcoming to immigrants. With so many of them being Christians, churches need to “examine how open they are to other ethnic groups, especially those already have an affinity for your group.”

This includes taking a look at leadership in a church; is it all white?

Second, they need to focus on leadership development.

Churches, he says, need to “create space for new generation of leaders, including them in decision-making now, enabling them to have ownership of the vision.”

This will not always be easy, since younger Christians will see things differently, and hold different beliefs on some issues—such as LGBTQ* inclusion.

The older generation, he says, has to be prepared to “ask what cost they are willing to pay to hand things over to younger leaders,” who might not see things the same way they do.

At the same time, Thiessen cautions, it’s not a one-way street.

The next generation “also needs to learn from the older generation,” he says. “It’s not all about them.”

Third, churches need to be actively involved in their communities.

“How active and present in the community is your church?” he asks.

Involvement in the community conveys to neighbours that a church “doesn’t exist only for itself,” he says.

This includes partnering with other groups, and using that as a “gateway for connection.”

This doesn’t mean “people will flood into churches,” he adds, but it could “change the perception of the church, that it’s just for someone else.”

Finally, Hiemstra cautions that nothing about the future of the church in Canada is certain. 

“History shows things can change in surprising ways,” he says, adding that he doesn’t think that we are seeing the end of the church in Canada.

The “form of Christianity is changing,” he acknowledges, and some denominations may not survive.

“Different expressions of faith will come and go,” he says, adding that “Christ never guaranteed denominations would endure. He said the church would survive.”

New Book Chronicles Decline of Christianity in Canada

Called "the most comprehensive account of the changes in Canadian Christianity”





















On July 1, 1967, an estimated 20,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for a worship service to kick-off the official celebration of Canada’s centennial.

It was presided over by clergy from the major Christian denominations—United, Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic—along with a rabbi.

The service included readings from the Bible (Prime Minister Lester Pearson read from the book of First Peter) hymns, and a confession of sin. It concluded with the entire gathering voicing a litany of dedication to God.

Fifty years later, when Canada marked its 150th anniversary, religion appeared to be absent on the Hill.

The day in Ottawa began with a celebration of welcome and diversity. The opening celebration featured musicians and guest speakers, including the Prime Minister.

If there were any clergy present, or any prayers or hymns, the official schedule fails to note it.

For Brian Clarke and Stuart Macdonald, authors of the new book Leaving Christianity: Changing Alliances in Canada since 1945, the differences between the two celebrations illustrate the significant changes for the church in Canada over the past 50 years.

In the book, Clarke, a professor at the Toronto School of Theology and Macdonald, a professor at Knox College, state that the decline of the church in this country is far more widespread than is commonly assumed.

Using census data, they show that many churches and denominations are in serious trouble.

That’s no surprise, of course. Anyone who has gone to almost any mainline church on a Sunday morning can see the empty pews.

But what the authors discovered is that the trend of decline is not limited to mainline denominations. Other groups, such as the Christian Reformed, Pentecostals, Mennonites, the Salvation Army and some Baptist groups, are also seeing decreases.

Meanwhile in Quebec, where loyalty to the Catholic church has traditionally been high—even if few attend services—the decline in allegiance to Catholicism “can only be described as precipitous,” they say.

As for Catholics in the rest of Canada, more of them are switching to no religion, along with a “remarkable rise” in the number of Catholics who never attend services.

Altogether, it adds up to a significant “disengagement with church-based religion, they write.

“There is a decline in the number of people who socialize their children into churches, or go to churches for rites of passage. There is a decline among those who come to church expecting that their social needs for friendship and community will be met there.”

These changes will “profoundly affect how Canadians live their lives, the vitality of their religious institutions, the salience of these institutions in Canadian society, and the state of Canadian civil society, in which churches and church-affiliated organizations had a significant presence.”

Rise of the “Nones”

Clarke and Macdonald trace the start of the change in how Canadians view religion to the 1960s, with mainline churches the first to feel the effects.

This change was “sudden, it was broad-based, it was massive in scale, and it gained momentum over time,” they write. “It is no exaggeration to say that these churches for the most part lost the baby boom generation.”

Not only did they lose them, “they didn’t get them back.”

Many of these Canadians went on to become “nones” over the next several decades—people who when asked to name their religion on the census, check the box that says “none of the above.”

Today some 7.8 million Canadians identify as having no religion, about 25% of the population. In 1961, that figure was 1%.

Clarke and Macdonald call the growth in the non-affiliated “the most dramatic change in the Canadian religious scene since the 1960s,” noting if they were a religious group, it would be the third-largest after Catholic and Protestant.

(If anything, they believe the number of those who are unaffiliated with Christianity to be much larger. They estimate about 17.9 million Canadians are disconnected from religion, including many who are no longer religiously active, but haven’t got around to checking off the “none” box yet.)

But along with the growth in the de-churched—those who have left religion—there’s a new cohort not seen in such large numbers before: The children of the “nones.”

According to Clarke and Macdonald, there are over 1.5 million Canadians under 15 who have never been to church, except for weddings or funerals.

“As opposed to their parents who left church and became de-churched, they are among the non-churched and have very little or no exposure to Christian beliefs and practices,” they say.

 Demographic trends “don’t get any stronger or deeper than the growth trend among no religion and the cultural shift it represents,” they say, adding “we are witnessing an unprecedented cultural shift.”

Not all churches are struggling

What about conservative and evangelical denominations? Clarke and Macdonald say that some of these church groups “have weathered the changes of the last 40 years with greater success than the larger Protestant churches.”

They suggest this is because of strong group identity, active efforts at outreach and their ability to retain more of their youth.

These denominations “are doing better at maintaining membership, attendance and religious identification” than the mainline churches, they say.

But beginning in the 1990s, “many of them have seen decline . . . the end of a common Christian culture is now affecting them, as it did earlier with the country’s larger Protestant denominations,” they state.

Conservative churches “are one of the few forms of Christianity that is not shrinking.” But, they add, trends suggest that “stability or modest growth is the reality.”

Impact on Society

The consequences of these changes are dire for many churches—decreased attendance, drop in giving, closed congregations. But all of Canadian society will feel the pain.

And why is that? Since active church participation is a chief predictor of whether someone gives to charity or volunteers, declining church affiliation and participation will have “a profound impact on civil society, most clearly seen in the decreases in volunteering and charitable giving,” they say.

Fewer church members means there will be fewer people donating to charities, in other words, putting many of them at risk—and not just religious charities, since churchgoers give to many causes.

The changes will also affect how people learn to be engaged citizens.

“Churches have traditionally served as one of the chief entry points—if not the chief entry point—to civil society,” they write.

Historically, churches were where most Canadians learned how to be civically engaged through things like speaking in public, leading meetings, being part of boards or committees, engaging people with differing viewpoints, giving to charity and doing service in the community.

Declining church attendance means “fewer Canadians will have the chance to learn the skills necessary for civic engagement that they used to learn in church,” they state.

Of course, other groups also contribute to society’s social capital. But “churches have been one of the major gateways to participation in the rest of society,” they say, adding “for whatever reason, they are unique in the ways they empower people to become active members of Canadian society. The decline in churchgoing, then, is a societal issue.”

Diminishing influence will also affect relations between churches and government, the authors contend.

They note there was a time when elected officials paid serious attention to statements issued by church leaders—statements based on their number of people they counted as members, and their beliefs.  

Today, however, Christian institutions “can no longer assume they can secure public recognition” because of who they represent or what they believe.

“They must do so on the basis of civil and human rights or how they might contribute to the common good, rather than specifically Christian values,” they state, adding that the “church’s voice is one voice among many, if heard at all.”

Where to from here?

According to Clarke and Macdonald, there is no easy fix.

“The trends we are tracking are well entrenched, and they indicate that the pool of Protestant and Catholic affiliates will continue to shrink and to do so at an increasing pace as new cohorts of youth appear, other cohorts age, and still others disappear.”

This isn’t to say that some congregations aren’t flourishing, they add. Some are, but “many more are struggling. Some will survive, but many will amalgamate or close.”

As for the future, they recommend that denominations “accept that Canada is a de-Christianized, post-Christian society. The challenge for churches is how to adapt, adjust, and start to function effectively in this context.”

This is “not a matter of tweaking a program, new music, new liturgy, new style of sermons, etc. to reverse fortunes,” they say.

Instead, it is about finding new ways to communicate about the faith “in a culture that no longer understands what they are talking about. They [churches] can no longer appeal to Christian symbols and ideas that used to be diffused in the general culture to proclaim their message.”

They also recommend that seminaries prepare future clergy “to deal with the context of ministry that awaits them, which is dramatically different from what it was just a few years ago . . . for the sense of loss and pain they will encounter in congregational ministry.”

And they suggest that “in such a post-Christian society, Canada’s churches will need to rediscover Christianity’s founding impulse for mission and engage their new cultural and religious context.”

Reaction to the book

Reaction to the book has been positive, with some critiques.

Paul Bramadat of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria calls it “the most comprehensive account available of the relatively recent history of the changes we have seen in Canadian Christianity.”

Lori Beaman, Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change at the University of Ottawa, praises its “detailed and realistic look at statistical data from a range of sources to analyse the present status of Christianity in Canada.”

For her, the book is “necessary, even vital” for anyone studying religion in Canada.

Other scholars of religion in Canada, like Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge, John Stackhouse and  Sam Reimer of Crandall University, Kevin Flatt of Redeemer University, Rick Hiemstra of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Joel Thiessen of Ambrose University, also agree that Clarke and Macdonald have done a great deal to advance the study of Christianity in Canada.

But they also have some critiques. 

One is that the authors don’t seem to take seriously enough the impact of immigration. Since between 40%-50% of immigrants to Canada are Christians, these newcomers can bring not only be a source of members for some groups, but also of a new vitality and energy.

Another critique is that Clarke and Macdonald seem too pessimistic about whether some of the non-affiliated might one day be more open to involvement in Christianity; maybe those positions aren’t as fixed as they claim.

Finally, there is a question about whether they are selling churches short. Perhaps with good leadership, openness to new ideas and a willingness to change, they may discover new and creative ways to engage Canadians.

As for the authors themselves, they don’t claim to know the future and, as churchgoers themselves—Clarke is Anglican and MacDonald is Presbyterian—they hope for the best for the church. But they believe the large level of disengagement from organized Christianity is not going away.

As they conclude in the book: “For good or ill, the place of Christianity in Canada has undergone a dramatic shift. We are now in a post-Christian Canada."

From the May 19, 2018 Winnipeg Free Press. Click here to read more detailed responses and reactions to the book from Canadian academics and others who study religion in Canada.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Native Americans Call on Churches to Lead Way to Healing from Indian Boarding Schools



Since 2008, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, Canada has been wrestling with the legacy of the residential school system.

The topic has fueled discussion in the media, community meetings and in faith groups—especially in those churches that ran schools.

Some would say that things aren’t moving nearly fast enough, but there’s no escaping how this has become a topic of national conversation.

This was evident last month, when Pope Francis decided not to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system made headlines across Canada.

All this attention in Canada is quite unlike what’s happening in the U.S.

Like Canada, the U.S. also had a similar boarding school system for Indigenous children.

In fact, the Canadian residential school system was modelled on it; in 1879 Prime Minister John A. MacDonald sent Nicholas Davin to the U.S. to study its boarding schools for Indigenous children.

Davin’s Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds led to the creation of Canada’s system—the legacy of which we are still dealing with today.

In the U.S., over 250,000 children were removed from their families, some of the forcibly, and sent to over 500 schools.

The goal of the schools was to “kill the Indian and save the man,” in the words ofCaptain Richard Pratt, who helped create what was called the U.S. Indian boarding school system.
Many of these American schools in the U.S. were also run by churches—Presbyterians, Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, Episcopalians, and others.
Like in Canada, the schools left a legacy of suffering, loss of language, family breakdown and alcohol and drug abuse.
Unlike in Canada, however, little attention is being paid to the issue in the U.S.
Some Americans are trying to change that. One person is Denise Lagimodiere, an associate professor in the school of education at North Dakota State University in Fargo and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Pembina Chippewa.
Lagimodiere—who traces her roots to Manitoba through her great-grandfather Jean-Baptiste Lagimodiere—is President of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, a nonprofit organization building a database of survivor accounts.
She became interested in the issue after learning family members, including her own father, were boarding school survivors.
“I never knew these stories existed because my family members had all maintained silence on their experiences until I began asking questions,” she says.
Her goal is to see something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission occur in the U.S.
America, she says, is “not even begun the truth-telling part, much less get to reconciliation.”
But with no media interest, or attention in Congress, she believes it is up to the churches in her country to put it on the national agenda.
“We need the churches,” she says. “We need them to research their schools, where they were, when they were established, how many students there were. It would be a recognition of what was done to us.”
She would also like to see more of them issue apologies, like the United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches have done in Canada.
“An apology to survivors would be a recognition of what was done to Native kids,” she says. “Many survivors need that as part of their healing.”
In her interviews with former boarding school students, she hears “wrenching, heartbreaking, and traumatic” stories of physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition, forced labor, religious and cultural suppression, inadequate medical care, deaths and suicides in the schools.
“The majority had never spoken a word of their experiences to their children or grandchildren,” she adds.
When she asked them what they felt could help heal them from their boarding school experiences, many said they needed to return to their traditional Native spirituality.
They also said that they need to do “something most difficult—to forgive, to get rid of that hatred, after which they could truly be healed.”
That healing for many Indigenous Americans, she believes, will only be fostered and encouraged if the U.S. comes to terms with the way it wronged them through the boarding schools. And she hopes American churches will be among those who lead the way.
Photo above: Carlisle, PA Indian boarding school, 1900. From the May 5, 2018 Winnipeg Free Press.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

"God Doesn’t Care if a Good Idea Comes from Another Denomination"



May 9 Event at Charleswood United Church to bring church leaders together for learning, networking

The challenges facing churches today are well-known—declining attendance, falling membership, decreased giving, to mention a few.

If there’s any comfort for churches that are struggling, it’s knowing their church isn’t alone; many others are also having a hard time keeping the doors open and people engaged.

But not all the news is bad. Some churches are trying and finding new ways to do ministry that are working or showing real promise. Problem is, few others know about them—denominations can be siloed, and there are few ways of sharing information between them. How can church leaders find out about successes in other denominations?

Find ways to share new ideas is the goal of “Behold I do a new thing! Emerging perspectives on ministry,” a one-day conference on May 9 for clergy and others involved in ministry.

The goal of the Ted Talk-style event, which will run from 9 AM to 2:30 PM at Charleswood United Church, is to provide learning opportunities for clergy and religious leaders in Winnipeg, and also help them develop new relationships across denominational lines.

“Everyone is in the same boat,” says Michael Wilson, minister at Charleswood United Church and one of the event’s organizers. 

“The questions that are being asked by people at one church are being asked by others. By coming together, we will find we have a lot to learn from each other, to see what kinds of creative things are happening locally.”

For Wilson, the event is also a personal project that begins with his own interest in theological education.  

As a minister, he knows that continuing education is important and valuable. But there are limited options in Winnipeg; most of the conferences for those who are involved in ministry are costly and far away in the U.S. and other parts of Canada—many people in Winnipeg can’t afford to attend them.

“We live in a place that is kind of remote” from those opportunities to learn more about creative ways of doing church, he says. “It is harder to find resources.”

Seeing a gap, he approached leaders from other church groups, along with the University of Winnipeg Centre for Theological Studies and Canadian Mennonite University, to ask if they wanted to come together to sponsor some educational events.

“Once people got together to talk about it, the idea caught fire,” Wilson says.

The event, which will feature local theologians and leaders from Anglican, Catholic, Mennonite, United Church and Lutheran churches, will be a time for attenders to "get out of their silos and learn from each other," Wilson says.

"I'm sure God doesn't care if a good idea comes from another denomination."

Finding ways to work together locally across church lines is also important since “denominationalism as we have known it for a long time is not a model that is working anymore,” he says.

The “locus of ministry shifting from the denomination to the congregation,” he adds, noting that more than ever the question is “what does a local community feel the spirit is calling them to do?”

At the same time, churches are also facing challenges about diversity—gender, racial, linguistic, and sexual, along with needing to find ways to promote reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.

“These are the growing edges, and we want to get together with others to see what they are doing about them, and what we can learn from each other.”

In addition to the event on May 9, the organizing group is planning other educational events for Winnipeg in the future.

On October 2-3, they are bringing in Anna Carter Florence, professor of preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary and author of Rehearsing Scripture: Discovering God’s Word in Community.And on May 7-8, 2019, well-known speaker and author Diana Butler Bass will be here.

Cost of “Behold: I do a new thing!” is $40 and includes lunch. Registration information is available on the Charleswood United Church website at or by calling (204) 832-3667.