Published in ” Young at Heart” newspaper for Seniors, December 2018 issue, article written by Nancy McPherson, Rideau Park United Church.
At a slight curve in Alta Vista Drive, at the corner of Cunningham, in a long-established residential neighbourhood, Rideau Park United Church welcomes its congregation and members of the community to services, activities and events. Rideau Park has been a Christian presence in the area for 65 years. Today, it serves not only the immediate Alta Vista area, but also the growing communities of southeast Ottawa.
Its congregation includes people from diverse backgrounds, denominations and faith traditions. The sign on the front lawn reads, “Rideau Park United Church is a family of people who joyfully proclaim a loving God as revealed in Jesus Christ.” It is an accessible church in every way. For those with mobility or hearing issues, it’s an accommodating place. For those with spiritual needs, it’s a place that welcomes you with open arms. For those new to the community, it’s a true centre; it hosts many programs for adults, children and seniors. It has a new website, www.rideaupark.ca, which eases the hunt for details about the varied activities this active congregation provides. And did we mention the inspiring church services each Sunday at 10 am, and special events, such as concerts and the Christmas pageant, that are live-streamed, if you can’t attend in person?
Christmas is a very big deal at Rideau Park United. The season begins with Rideau Park’s Christmas Treasures Bazaar the first Saturday afternoon in November. It was recently described by someone who does not belong to Rideau Park as “the Christmas Bazaar that sets the bar” in Ottawa. It is a tradition that involves dozens and dozens (and dozens) of volunteers from within the congregation, plus friends of Rideau Park.
From the first Sunday in December, the start of the season of Advent, to Christmas Day, there are numerous activities to enjoy. There really is something for everyone’s taste. Whether you are a serious music aficionado (Rideau Park has a great choir of adults of all ages), enjoy hand bells and chimes or get a kick out of seeing little children performing, or would like to enjoy worship at beautiful Sunday services and thoughtful midweek Advent evening retreats, there are events you can check out via the Rideau Park website or the church office (613-733-3156).
For those who wish to share their joy tangibly with those less fortunate, there is the Christmas Cheer program the week of Dec. 20 and the Shoebox project. Both of these initiatives provide some relief to those in need, through the practical gift of groceries via Christmas Cheer, or by more personal necessities provided for residents of shelters through the Shoebox project.
The whole congregation enjoys the annual Christmas pageant, involving as many as 100 children on-stage and many teen and adult volunteers behind the scenes. An original production is created each year – this year to be performed on the 16th – as a framework surrounding the traditional story of the Nativity. It is often hilarious and always heart-warming.
Christmas Eve, Rideau Park pulls out the stops – literally. There is a tremendous church organ and a tremendous organist, Andrew Ager. Three services will be held throughout the evening: a family service at 6:30 pm where the children’s choirs perform jubilantly, a candlelight Communion service at 8:30 pm, and a 10:30 pm service of Christmas reflections in word and music.
Rideau Park United shines throughout the year as a safe place to join in worship, prayer and music. There are meditative services, Sunday School classes, a hugely popular summer camp (Camp Awesome), sponsorship programs for refugees, Scouts and Guiding programs, community dinners and lunches, fitness and yoga groups, a euchre club, a lunch club with speakers; the list is long. The long-established tradition of volunteers and staff providing pastoral care in homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities continues.
Rideau Park shines throughout the year, but at Christmas we dazzle. Please enjoy the Christmas glow with us this December.
Rideau Park United Church is located at 2203 Alta Vista Drive.