UCW 60th Anniversary Celebration: Then Sings My Soul!

Sandra Child was one of 10 Alberta women who attended the United Church Women (UCW)’s 60th-anniversary celebration in July 2022. Sandra says the experience of gathering with women from across the country, hearing inspiring speakers and seeing the Atlantic Ocean was best summed up in the old hymn refrain, Then Sings My Soul!

By Sandra Child, Regional Representative, Central United Church, Calgary

UCW members from Chinook Winds and Northern Spirit Regions who attended the 60th anniversary were: (back row) Karen McLennan; Barbara Davison; Shirley Mcllwain; Susan Oleskiw; Margaret Sargent; (front row) Eleanore Tribe;  Donna Krucik; Sandra Child (author); Mabel Hunter; and Sandy Skogstead.

After months of anticipation, it was time to leave for the United Church Women (UCW)’s 60th Anniversary in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I made my way to the Calgary Airport for a July 9th evening flight to Halifax and on to Sydney. When I checked the screen, there was not the dreaded “delayed” or even worse “cancelled.” All was well.
The UCW’s Anniversary was held July 11th -15th 2022 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Center in Sydney located on the Membertou Reservation. The theme for this event was “Continuing in Hope,” and the theme song composed by Rev. Alice Finnamore was “Into Your Hands.”
At the Halifax Airport, I met two women from White Rock BC also going to the anniversary. At the Sydney Airport, we were warmly greeted by members of the organizing committee. After pictures were taken we were off to the Hampton Inn and Suites.
The anniversary officially opened with a buffet dinner and we were entertained by drummers and dancers. The banners from each region were presented.
On Tuesday, the morning began with worship led by Rev. Alice Finnamore who has a beautiful singing voice. For some hymns, she played her tambourine and I played mine too. Fun. The theme speaker was Canadian Journalist and Human Rights Activist Sally Armstrong. After a buffet lunch, Rev. J.D. Kennedy gave a talk on offering C.O.M.F.OR.T to one who is dying. After supper, we were entertained by Pat Ledwell, a comedian who was very good.
Wednesday was Tour Day and I assisted organizing committee member Marilyn by holding up the Cabot Trail sign so those taking this tour knew where to gather. Other tours were to Louisbourg and the Iona Village. We saw fabulous scenery along the Cabot Trail and took a gondola ride. The ocean view was incredible. I had never seen the Atlantic Ocean before and I was in awe. Then sings my soul! On our return to Sydney, the evening entertainment was the Men of the Deeps. They were incredible. They walked into the darkened room dressed all in black with headlamps on. Very impressive and they can sure SING!
On Thursday a presentation was given on Women for Change in Zambia which offers girls a chance to go to school rather than marry at a young age and have children when they are children themselves. Rev. Alice Finnamore presented Self-Care – Hope in Action. After lunch, Catherine Stuart, a liturgical dancer, presented Hope of the Journey Spiritual Renewal through Movement and Song. Catherine also participates in Ukulele Church. The evening banquet had a theme of a tea party. The tables were decorated with a teapot with flowers as a centrepiece and china teacups at each place. The United Church’s General Secretary Michael Blair was the guest speaker and Fiddle and Friends was the entertainment. The event concluded on Friday morning with the communion service led by Rev. Alison Etter. The choir made up of the delegates presented a song sung in Gaelic which Alison had taught them and Rev. Alice conducted the choir. The Banners were piped out to the song, Farewell to Nova Scotia. I appreciated Rev. Alice very much and took opportunities to speak with her briefly on several occasions.
Following this event, Barbara Davison, Eleanore Tribe, Shirley Mc Ilwain and I (All from Chinook Winds Region) toured the area by car. None of us had been to Nova Scotia before. We went to a funky hat shop on the Cabot Trail. I had met the owner at the Regina airport in June and told her we would be there in July. Unfortunately, she was not there however her assistant was and, yes, I bought a one-of-a-kind hat! We went to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck. After one meal, I walked down a cement boat launch ramp and put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and again: Then sings my soul! The highlight was the boat tour to Bird Island. What incredible rock formations we saw along with seals, eagles and many other birds. We went early in the morning and the sun glistening on the water was beautiful.
As my flight going to Sydney was at night I saw the sunrise from the plane something I had never experienced before and again, Then sings my soul! Later, On the flight to Calgary, the lady sitting beside me had the flight path on her device. We were fortunate to see the Bay of Fundy, the St. Lawrence River and part of James Bay.
This whole experience was wonderful and, yes, you guessed it, Then sings my soul!
I will close this by including a sung blessing that was used at the Anniversary to bless each presenter: May the blessing of God be upon you. We bless you in the name of God.

Sandra Child with UCW 60th Anniversary Worship Leader Rev. Alice Finnamore