A Better Than Blue Christmas is being organized this Sunday, Dec. 12 for anyone who feels lonely or loss at this time of year. The potluck dinner is being organized by Barbara Gilday, the new minister of the United Church of Canada in Whistler. "It’s a time to reflect, to share if you want, and to acknowledge loss," Gilday said. The dinner is at 6 p.m. and anyone interested is asked to call 932-5104 for details. Gilday arrived in Whistler Oct. 1, taking over from Harlene Walker, who retired last summer. Born in London, Ont., she has worked in Africa, the USA and across Canada, most recently as chaplain at a Calgary hospital. Her background also includes being an early volunteer with Canadian University Service Overseas. Gilday has lived in Vancouver several times during the course of her career and came to Whistler to ski 27 years ago. She calls the mountains God’s cathedrals. "I’m a spiritual leader, I feel spirit in the mountains," she says. "Seventy-five per cent of Canadians say they are spiritual, yet few go to church." She sees part of her role right now as reaching out, helping find a sense of community within and outside the church. "I think we need to peel back the layers, let the spirit back in. There are some basic truths that we need to make meaningful in today’s context," Gilday says. She is trying to reach out young people in Whistler, exploring how she can be available for people to talk to — in a spiritual sense rather than a religious sense — and in a language that makes sense to them. One of the things she wants to offer is a sort of dinner with mom, for young women who may be away from home for the first time. She’s also interested in organizing Taize services in the new year. Named after a French town with a monastery, the services will be musical, featuring chanting, readings and meditation. They will be offered at 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and musicians are needed. "People in the community can suggest and decide what we can offer," Gilday says. "We’re in this ministry together." "I’m curious about the ways God’s working in the world. There’s no one way." The United Church worships every Sunday at 9 a.m. in the Skiers’ Chapel at Creekside. Children’s church is at the same time. A Christmas Eve service will be offered at 10 p.m. on Dec. 24.

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