Husband-and-wife team Rev. Armand Houle and Rev. Kathy Hogman work together at the west end Trinity United Church. Photo by Heather Andrews-Miller
Any given morning in the capital area a scene is repeated in many homes. Following a family breakfast, the children head off to school and the parents drive off to their respective jobs.
For Kathy Hogman and Armand Houle, the similarity stops there. The two ordained ministers share a team ministry at Trinity United Church and work together each and every day. We try to keep home and work separate, and to find time with each other to nurture our relationship, says Hogman. But our work is bound to creep in to our everyday conversations. The west end church is a busy one, with over 350 families totalling close to 1000 people, so the administration of the activities and preparation for weekly services does require a large commitment of time and a lot of planning.
The couple met in Wawanesa, Manitoba and married in 1987. I was serving as minister and Armand was driving a delivery truck, remembers Hogman, who was originally from Winnipeg. He was living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and commuting on weekends to visit me, a 1000-kilometre journey. As Houle became involved with the church through his wife, he felt compelled to switch careers and entered Brandon University, getting a bachelor of arts degree. When we moved to Saskatoon, he attended St. Andrews College, receiving his theology degree, explains Hogman. The couple served in various western Canadian parishes before answering a call to Edmontons Trinity United in 2003. We had been living on the BC coast for eight years, so we are enjoying the sunshine and blue skies of the prairies, she says, adding that Edmonton is a wonderful place to live and raise their two children. Sarah, at age 14, attends Laurier Heights School and 17-year-old Paul is a student at Jasper Place High School. Paul juggles his school work with part-time employment and Sarah is involved in numerous activities, including soccer, band, and the school year-book committee, adds Hogman.
Like all ministry personnel, the two are concerned that the approaching Christmas season seems to be more about commercialism than about spreading its universal message of peace toward all. Regardless of religious affiliation, most families want to treasure memories around special moments but its hard, with television commercials pressuring people to buy large expensive gifts, and the stores lighting up their Christmas displays in October, continues Hogman.
Trinity, located at 8810 Meadlowlark Road about 10 blocks east of West Edmonton Mall, has been increasing its outreach to the community in recent years and this advent season is no exception. Whether folks are actual members of our congregation or not, we want Edmontonians to feel welcome to attend our activities. For example, on the evening of Saturday, November 26, we are hosting an inter-generational potluck and advent craft event, she says. Well listen to some stories and do some crafts, giving the children an opportunity to interact with adults on a different level, because the adults arent there as parents or teachers, but as fellow citizens enjoying a pleasant activity, she adds. The evening will be fun, and Hogman points out that it will be a welcome change from the overwhelming stress and tension which the festive season can create, when we are pressured to create the picture-perfect but impossible Christmas that is portrayed on television. Its important to have fun, and to reflect on the message of the season, to experience love and care with friends and family, she states.
During the 11:00 a.m. Sunday worship services through the advent season leading up to Christmas, the church will look at what the preparations for the big day actually mean. What are we really getting ready for, she asks. Its not the excesses of buying, eating, and partying, but a focus on the spiritual centre of our lives. Whether or not the house is perfectly clean, the cookies all baked, and the presents meet all of our expectations, what is born in us at Christmas is the possibility of life-transforming relationships with our Creator and with each other.
A presentation of music will be held on December 11 when the Trinity choir presents a Christmas Cantata. The choir may be small, but they are mighty. They are phenomenal and they are giving us Christmas in song, and an opportunity to hear the message through music, she says. And on Wednesday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. an Oasis Service will present worship in a peaceful service which offers an oasis, a time of solace and contemplation, when we can renew our spirits, she says. Sometimes the gifts we can best give to ourselves and to our families are spiritual gifts, and these are the ones that will last. A childrens Christmas pageant will be held during worship on December 18, with a time of fellowship over lunch following the service. Two Christmas Eve services will be held, with families being the focus at 6:00 p.m. and communion at 10:00 being the featured activity for the meaningful night.
Armand Houle adds that the work which churches do in the community continues all year long. Trinity is one of many churches which is happy to extend its services to people outside of our membership. Sometimes people drop in to the church office throughout the week, other times they attend worship, but either way we like to think our church is a welcoming place in the community, he says. The church helps in many ways, contributing to a food bank for students on the university campus, offering babysitting respite for neighbourhood families on specific Saturdays, hosting a monthly bridge night and other small group activities on various evenings throughout the week, and so on, he adds. As well, we take our turn serving lunch downtown at the Bissell Centre twice a year and contribute to the Centre regularly with food and clothing donations. A Saturday morning mens breakfast is a popular activity at Trinity as is a Thursday morning time for women.
More information about the church can be obtained by calling 489-0860. We need to engage meaning in our lives, meaning that goes beyond what we put on or put in our bodies. We need to connect with our Creator and with each other, concludes Hogman. There is something deeper, something that flows from the seat of our souls and the heart of our being. Trinity hopes to offer that to everyone.
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