TSP Times Advent Edition – December 2017

TSP Times Advent Edition – December 2017

TSP TIMES
ADVENT EDITION
DECEMBER 2017

Message from Joan and Peter Wyatt

We write on World Children’s Day, 20 November 2017, and have just finished watching a live-stream children’s takeover of the United Nations General Assembly sponsored by UNICEF. Children from around the globe told their personal stories of harm and hope, and challenged the UN and people around the world to continue to act for, and to advocate, the wellbeing of the world. As in the story of Christmas, a little child shall lead us.

 

We began our brief sojourn at TSP in late September. Now, approaching the Advent journey to Christmas, we begin to anticipate our return to a quiet life in the Almaguin Highlands. Like the UNICEF program, our time of sharing ministry with the people of TSP has been a rich and inspiring privilege.

 

Some things remain consistent with our earlier time here. Commitments to pressing issues in our current local and global contexts remain impressively strong. So too does creative, able, and committed leadership across a broad spectrum of ministries from governance to social engagements. Music, celebrated in a service where we heard from Brad about his sabbatical time, continues to nourish the heart and soul. A pastoral care committee that could be the poster child for what pastoral care might be in every congregation continues to tend, with love, so many.

 

Some things that we longed for back in 1989 when we arrived as team ministers also remain. Outside signage at Bloor and Robert Streets, and in the Centre back hallway, making clear that there is a United Church in the building, is still lacking. The announcements still can run as long as a short sermon, even though we continue to print most of them, and now also send them out on the list serve! Tensions about how best to steward our resources, be relevant and faithful are still threads that run through decision-making and visioning. So too the breadth of theological diversity in our midst makes both worship and community life an opportunity to practise acceptance and respect for self and others a true reality.

 

When Cheri was introduced to the congregation on October 1, while Bill Phipps and Susan Mabey were here to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the amalgamation of St Paul’s-Avenue Road and Trinity, she said that she is honoured to have been chosen to serve you. We agree – it is a deeply rewarding experience for any of us. May Cheri’s time with you bring excitement, hope, peace, joy, and love.

 

We thank you for welcoming us into your midst for these three months — and wish for you an ongoing ministry that tends and cares for the spiritual needs of this faith community, so that the ministry beyond these walls may continue to go forward with grace and energy.

Bloom Where you are Planted: Gifts of the Spirit

By Lois Kunkel, Chair of the Church Board

Just this week, Del Doucette, Linda Padfield and I were talking TSP in our roles as Vice-chair, Secretary, and Chair of the Church Board.  Del was already drafting an email in his mind as I was still sorting through my thoughts and discerning what we might do. After Linda left for her yoga class and we were enjoying our ginger tea, I found myself making the observation of our working styles out loud to Del.  We had a very cool conversation about how we work.  Del is a litigation lawyer, quick on his feet.  It is very necessary in his work to think fast and to write well. I’m a psychotherapist (or a “psycho” as my son used to say).  My work is listening, discerning, letting things emerge.  Now, I also know that Del loves bird-watching, so I know that he can be still and listen and I know that I can think well, although differently from Del.

 

Using our gifts…Romans 12: “And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us…”

 

We are all thinking about this as we complete the Season of Commitment.  We all have gifts to bring and to share in our TSP community.  These may change as we change and our capacities change.  I think of the gift of prayer.  Our capacity for prayer never changes no matter what ability we have.  “What can I give him, poor as I am”, says the hymn, “give him my heart”. I believe prayer affects the energy field of the one who prays and of the one(s) prayed for. Your prayers are the glue of our community and hold our circle in grace.

 

When my siblings and I were teenagers, wondering what to make of our lives, my old father used to tell us, “bloom where you are planted”.  He would also paraphrase the words of St. Irenaeus, “the glory of God is (hu)man fully alive”. These words of my Dad stay with me.

 

I love having an amaryllis plant in Advent.  It’s almost like magic since you can watch it emerge and grow every day.  Careful tending/watering and expectant waiting leads to the most glorious blooms – kind of like the spiritual life.

 

Forgive me these random thoughts…. Growing in community is like this:  Discerning our gifts and sharing them; Letting our differences be our strength and that often means talking about them, so we can let the body work in harmony. Together in community, we support each other in blooming where we are planted and becoming “fully alive”. This is my prayer for us all.

 

Blessed be.

Envisioning Our Communications Strategy

From your Church Administrator

Hi folks!  I thought I would touch base with you on our communications situation.  A lot of movement is happening to bring clarity to the policies and procedures for staff and volunteers.  This should make event planning a whole lot easier and straightforward, leading to more successful events.  We have been making great connections with the building tenants and the community throughout the Season for Commitment.

 

Rev Cheri Dinovo has been busy making the rounds and getting oriented to our life here at TSP.  In meeting with her, we considered how we can communicate better to support our collective vision.  Cheri has hired me to redevelop her website for her ministry, which is great – because of her online presence, her website will draw people to our website!  Win-win.

 

Cheri very clearly indicated that social media is on the top of her mind.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and quite possibly YouTube will all be important communication platforms for Cheri’s ministry.  The young ones really connect with this.  My task will be to create accessible communication for everyone.

 

Into the future, with peace!

Jared Scratch, Church Administrator

Panel: Investing with Purpose: Building Community Through Local and Global Action

On Sunday November 19, 2017, as part of Trinity-St. Paul’s’ Season for Commitment, an Interactive Panel Discussion and Q+A took place from 12:00-2:00.  Over 50 people from TSP and the community attended the event titled, “Investing with Purpose: Building Community Through Local and Global Action”.  The stellar panel focussed on Socially Responsible (SRI) and Impact Investing, and how we could contribute both individually and collectively to bring about positive change.

 

Moderator:  Moira Hutchinson, Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Activist

Panelists:

  • Eugene Ellmen, National Director, Canada and U.S. at OIKOCREDIT
  • Armine Yalnizian, Economist and Well-Known Media Commentator
  • Brian Barsness, Director, Investment Services at Kindred Credit Union

​We were challenged to make a difference individually and collectively; as a follow-up to the event and the challenges posed, here are some important links and resources that were referenced or discussed during “Investing with Purpose: Building Community Through Local and Global Action”

The information below provides additional tools for you to better understand Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) and Impact Investing, as well as affordable housing and other topics discussed or referenced by Brian Barsness, Eugene Ellmen, Moira Hutchinson, Armine Yalnizyan, and the audience.

 

PLEASE NOTE:  This material is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, any investment or financial advice.

 

Affordable Housing Resources and Links

 

  1. Canada Infrastructure Bank

http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/CIB-BIC/index-eng.html

 

  1. Meritas SRI Funds – leaders in the Canadian SRI market

https://www.qtrade.ca/oceanrock/aboutus/about_meritas.jsp

 

https://www.qtrade.ca/_pdfs/en/news/20160808-ORII-meritas-sri-funds-invest-with-new-market-funds.pdf

 

  1. New Market Funds’ NMF Rental Housing Fund – referenced in Panel Discussion as one fund active in creating new affordable housing units. It is a closed fund.

FUND

 

Both Meritas and Vancity Credit Union (B.C.) were mentioned in the panel discussion and both have invested in New Market Funds to address these urgent housing needs.

 

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) + Impact Investment Resources and Links

 

  1. Oikocredit – Impact investing with global action

http://www.oikocredit.ca/

 

  1. Kindred Credit Union – offers Oikocredit Global Impact GIC and all Kindred GICs are SRI validated, DICO guaranteed, and RRSP, RRIF and TFSA eligible

https://www.kindredcu.com/

ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) with SRI options

https://www.kindredcu.com/Investing/Planning/InvestingInsights/InvestingInsights-May2017-5/,

 

  1. Ethiquette – “Ethiquette aims first and foremost to help individual investors as they venture into the realm of responsible investment”.  They identify themselves on their website as a “crossroads for dialogue and the sharing of information by responsible investment stakeholders in Québec and Canada (organizations, NPOs, media and government)”.

http://www.ethiquette.ca/en/

 

  1. Zidisha – “Zidisha is the first online micro lending community that directly connects lenders and borrowers — n​omatter the distance or disparity between”.  This non-profit website is an alternative to traditional micro lending platforms.  Zidisha does not use field partners, rather is a “lender to borrower” direct connection over the Internet.   ​

https://www.zidisha.org/

 

8.  SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research and Education) – a Non-Profit organization which, according to their website, is “a shareholder association for research and education on Responsible Investment and services related thereto”.   Trinity-St. Paul’s participates in the SHARE program to actively address ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues with companies through its fund manager, GENUS, which is a client of SHARE.

https://share.ca/

 

9.  Responsible Investment Association – https://www.riacanada.ca/ – a major resource for Canadian responsible investment information.  The Responsible Investment Association’s purpose as stated on their website is to “support the responsible investment activities of its members; promote and support an integrated reporting framework in which there is standardized disclosure of material ESG information; promote integration of ESG factors into investment analysis and decision-making processes; and ​promote the practice of responsible investing in Canada”.

Estates and Wills Resources and Links

10.  In response to an audience question, it was noted that Kindred Credit Union has estate planners on staff to assist clients and executors of estates through Concentra, a wholesale provider of finance and trust services for Credit Unions.  Concentra – https://www.concentra.ca/Pages/content.aspx?gp=Credit%20Union&sub=Estates%20and%20Trusts

Books That I Have Read Lately

By Mary Lou Fallis

Some of these are oldies but goodies.

 

Rowan Williams, Being Christian.  82 Pages

publisher Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co

Grand Rapids/Cambridge

 

Walter Brueggeman “Who better than Rowan Williams to be our teacher about the essentials of Christianity! In this clear, accessible exposition, we get Williams at his best-worldly-wise, gentle, grounded deeply in tradition, acutely alert to the world of violence where God indwells. Williams ushers us more deeply into our best discernment of the Christian life.”

P.D. James said it is “Elegant and lucid.”

 

Rollo May, The Courage to Create. 140 Pages

Publisher Norton and Company

NY, New York

 

Well known for his books, “Love and Will, “Man’s Search for Himself” and “Power and Innocence.” Dr. May’s work has been praised by reviewers and readers alike, for his pioneering work in human courage, creativity and spirituality.

 

Light upon Light: compiled by Sarah Arthur. 199 Pages

 

“A literary and spiritual feast, there is no other book quite like this one if you desire to live fully into the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, and have a passion for fiction and poetry.”

Advent and Christmas at TSP 2017

The Advent season is coming soon.  Always a special time at TSP.  Please plan to be with us and invite others to join us for some or all of these special events and services.

 

“Slouching toward Advent” is a Monday night Lectionary Bible Study led by Joan Wyatt. Meet in the Minister’s Study from 7:00-8:30 p.m. starting November 27.

 

November 27 Waiting and Hope Isaiah 64:1-9 & Mark 13: 24-37

 

December 4 A Voice in the Wilderness Isaiah 40:1-11 & Mark 1:1-8

 

December 11 and 18 TBA

 

The First Sunday in Advent is December 3. Plan to stay after church and help decorate the tree.

 

December 10 is the Christmas Pageant, led by Children’s Church and an opportunity to bring gifts for our neighbours at Na Me Res Men’s Residence.  Stay tuned for details from Marji Calla.

 

December 13 our monthly Taize Service takes place at 7:00 p.m.

Brad and the choir along with VIVA will lead us in Carol’s by Candlelight at 7:00 p.m. on December 17.

 

December 19 Joan and Peter will lead us in a Quiet Christmas Worship Service, a time to acknowledge the sorrow and losses that accompany the Christmas season.  5:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

 

Christmas Eve is the fourth Sunday in Advent.  We gather for our TSP service at 10:30 a.m. Then welcome Bloor St. United for a Family Service at 7:00 p.m. Bathurst and TSP will jointly worship with communion at 10:00 p.m. on December 24 in the TSP sanctuary.

New Year’s Eve we are pleased to accept Bloor St.’s invitation to join them for worship at 10:30 a.m.

 

The Choir is also participating in The Story at Christie Pitts at 7:30 p.m. on December 9 and 20. All are welcome. Dress warmly.

 

Blessings all as we move from the Season of Commitment to the Season of Advent and anticipate the arrival of our new minister, Cheri DiNovo, whose first service is January 7.

 

Betsy Anderson for the WAFF Circle

 

A Year-end BMB Update

As 2017 draws to a close, we would first like to cast our eyes back on this past year’s achievements and then, briefly outline what 2018 is likely to hold for us.

 

2017

 

  • One of the key mandates the BMB was given back in 2012 was to get the building to a sustainable basis. That meant principally to have the building rental income cover not just its operations, but also cover its Major Items, which had been drawing some $100,000 down annually from TSP Trust funds. We were then in a critical situation –though not yet a crisis. Over the past two years, we came close to that goal, but in 2017 for the first time, we have been able to return some $30,000 (estimated) to those Trust funds!! With the help of our TSP residents and community users, we averted that likely crisis.
  • During the summer – and with Tafelmusik footing most of the bill – the main floor bathrooms were fully renovated
  • During November, three basement former offices have been re-modelled by our maintenance staff (mainly Jon Dube) to accommodate Annex Montessori’s need for more space.
  • Over the summer, renovations were done (with M&P assistance) to the two ministry offices, to the Memorial Room, and especially to the Church Office.
  • To help manage more sudden rainwater flows sometimes reaching into the South basement, new eavestroughs were installed under the South roof.
  • Increased use of our public spaces have increased the work load of our 7 custodians and our office staff.
  • At the Board and General Manager level, we have been engaged closely with the Fifth Year BMB Review Group, as well as negotiating with Tafelmusik about the possible Glass Surround and the northeast steps repairs.

 

2018

 

  • In the next few months, we look forward to receiving three engineering reports that should outline the priority renovation projects for the structure, the heating, and the electrical systems over the next five years.
  • We also look forward to any changes that the Five-Year Review might propose to the original Administrative Agreement.
  • Two specific areas of work are the lower bathroom renovations and work on the stained glass.
  • With the General Manager handling the daily building issues, and with most of TSP building areas having been significantly improved/renovated over the last five years, our Board will shift its focus to more long term goals for our building: for example, environmental improvements, community engagement, engaging with other churches on sustainable building strategies

 

BMB: Susan Craig, Bob Fugere, Lorna Niebergall, Don Willms, Kendra Fry

Update on Turtle House Art/Play Centre (also known as ‘Turtle House’)

Turtle House is a multi-disciplinary arts organization for refugee children and parents.  Incorporated as a not-for- profit agency in 2005, we were only able to begin offering our programs in January 2008 after receiving a one-year grant from United Way.  In 2014, we received charitable status.  Since 2012, Toronto Arts Council has supported Turtle House with Community Arts project funding.  736 Outreach supported Turtle House with a grant for 3 years.

 

Trinity-St Paul’s Church (TSP) and many individual members of this congregation have supported Turtle House financially and in many other ways right from its inception and continuing over the years – as donors, Board members, volunteers, by providing the venue and purchasing tickets for five of our Open to the World: A Musical Journey fundraising concerts. The last concert was in November 2015.

 

The Intergenerational Family Program

 

In our Intergenerational Family Program, professional artists offer Clay-Making/Ceramics, Painting, Singing and Music, to children (4 to 12+), as well as a facilitated Conversation Circle for parents.  Older siblings also participate as volunteers.

 

Each week, the program ends with a shared meal, and we provide interpretation and TTC fares where necessary.  We offer our programs in schools or community centres on a Saturday in neighbourhoods with a significant number of refugee families.   Since 2011, we have been mainly in the Don Mills/Sheppard area of North York.  Most of the recent participants have been Iraqi and Syrian families.

 

“A Home to Call Our Own”

 

Turtle House rents a small office space from COSTI Immigrant Services at 760 College St, Toronto.  Over the years, Turtle House has been very nomadic, situated in a small office downtown, but trekking on a weekly basis with all our art supplies to North York, and with our Ceramic Artist, taking the clay pieces to his studio downtown for firing, and bringing them back up again for glazing and down for final firing.

 

We have a dream, and we called this dream “A Home to Call Our Own”.  We would like to have a place possibly in North York East or Scarborough that combines program space for the Intergenerational Family Program, office space, as well as a Ceramics Community Studio, to develop a Social Enterprise for Newcomer Refugee Artists and Non-Artists.  We know this is a long-term goal!

 

CAIF – Canadian Alternative Investment Foundation

 

Members of TSP, who were on the Board of Directors of CAIF or its sister organization CAIC referred us to CAIF to submit a proposal for a feasibility study for a Social Enterprise.  We received a grant from CAIF, which allowed us to explore different models of art studios, and also to begin to assess the interest of Newcomer Artists for affordable studio space and training.

 

Turtle House Ceramics Pilot Project

 

The grant from CAIF prepared us to develop Turtle House Ceramics – a Ceramic Training Program for Newcomer Refugee Artists and Non-Artists.  It is supported by Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding and by the Gardiner Museum, where our pilot project has been located since September 11, 2017.  The Ceramic workshops will end at the Gardiner on December 11, 2017.   We feel thrilled and inspired to have had the opportunity to be hosted by the Gardiner Museum, surrounded by ceramic artefacts in their Collection and their Shop.

 

Holiday Show & Sale – Sunday December 17, 2017 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. –  SAVE THE DATE!

 

On Sunday December 17th, we will hold a Show & Sale of the participants’ ceramic works from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Studio at TSP.  We hope you will come and join us there.  Coffee time after church will be in the Studio, and we’ll provide Syrian finger foods and sweets to go with your coffee. Funds from the sale of the Ceramic pieces will go directly to the Newcomer participants.

 

Social Media

 

Check out our Facebook page – Turtle House Art/Play Centre and follow us on  Instagram @turtlehouse_artplay.   There you’ll find pictures of the Ceramics Training program.

 

We are also planning to participate in a Giving Tuesday campaign through Canada Helps to run our next Intergenerational Family Program early in 2018.

 

Planting Seeds of Restoration and Hope for those Impacted by Crime

By Lynn Jondreville
 

Once again, this year, TSP hosted a conference on Restorative Justice, which was sponsored by a wide variety of organizations involved in ministries with those impacted by crime.  About 150 people participated.  The diversity reflected in the gathering no doubt correlates with the over representation of racialized minorities in the correctional system.

 

The program featured speakers, who told moving personal stories of healing and restoration of relationship after being impacted by crime, one an offender, whose case led to the first Victim Offender Reconciliation project in Canada, and another, a victim whose father had been murdered.

 

We also heard from a couple of organizations involved in innovative programs aimed at dealing with the barriers to employment faced by marginalized people: Building Up offers mentorship to help participants get a start in the trades; and Rise, a Rotman/CAMH financial initiative, provides low interest small business loans to those with a history of mental health and addiction challenges.

 

Some reflections by participants from TSP:

 

“The Restorative Justice Conference on Saturday was an important event. I sat beside a visitor whose son has recently been released from prison, and she is wondering what she should be doing. She welcomed the opportunity to meet and talk with others who share her experience. She was grateful that Trinity-St. Paul’s would sponsor such an opportunity for persons with similar experiences, either as inmates, or as persons helping former inmates to adapt to their new situations to meet one another. The speakers were amazing, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to hear their stories.” Roger Hutchinson

 

“It was a wonderful opportunity to hear how each person or organization was grappling with the same issues, mainly securing ID cards, OHIP cards, housing. Some could share best practices, which were eagerly accepted.  It was also a time of listening to the personal experience of those just out of prison. This was reality articulated in a very moving way.” John Klassen

 

“It was inspiring to hear the story of the young man involved in the Sagatay program at Na-Me-Res. In a very straightforward and confident manner he told his story of being taken from his family at a very young age, and the subsequent moves from one abusive foster home to another. His adult life had been marked by a relentless cycle of addiction and crime leading to incarceration. The programming helps Indigenous men reclaim their cultural identity and connection to community – addressing such a deep need as reflected in this man’s story.” Lynn Jondreville

The Hardest Spiritual Work

Leviticus 19:1,2, 15-18; Matthew 22; 34-40
A rabbi not long before the time of Jesus was asked by someone who wanted to convert to Judaism to teach him, while standing on one leg the whole of the Torah, (the first five books of the law.)

 

The thoughtful and welcoming Rabbi Hillel, perhaps standing on one leg, gave this answer:

“That which is hateful unto you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole of the Torah; the rest is commentary. Now, go and study!”[1]

 

Jesus, a faithful and scholarly Jew, was asked by a lawyer of the Pharisaic party which commandment is the greatest. His response was also short and pithy.

 

He named the first, from Deuteronomy “Love God with all of your heart, soul and mind.

and the second, which he said is like it, from Leviticus “love your neighbour as yourself.”

This Golden Rule is seen by many to be the essence of Christianity. Yet clearly it is also the essence of Judaism.

 

So too, it is a concept shared by many religions and humanist philosophies.[2]

 

A few examples–from:

 

Confucianism: Do not do to others what you would not like yourself (Analects 12;2)

Buddism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Varga, 5,1)

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself. (Sunnah)

Taoism: Regard your neighbour’s gain as your gain, your neighbour’s loss as your loss. (Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien)

 

So, the Golden rule may be the essence of many religions and to quote Rabbi Hillel –all the rest is commentary.

 

However, the devil is usually in the details and the commentary does matter. No doubt that is why Rabbi Hillel instructed the seeker—to go and study!

 

Peter has been celebrating a reunion this weekend from two summers that he spent during university at Camp Shilo in Manitoba. Reminiscing about being a cadet officer in training

brought forward how important chats with the chaplain, Carl Ridd, were for him. For me that brought to mind Carl Ridd’s daughter, Karen Ridd who is now a teacher and leader in mediation and peace studies in Winnipeg.

 

It all began for Karen in 1989, when she was volunteering with Peace Brigades International.

Karen and a colleague from the Peace Brigade, Marcella Rodriguez were arrested by the Guatemalan military on suspicion of affiliation with a guerrilla group. They were sent to a prison in El Salvador where they were blindfolded, interrogated and tortured.

 

As Karen and Marcella listened to the screams and cries of other prisoners they prepared for their own death. The Peace Brigade alerted the Canadian embassy who sent an official to rescue Karen. As she was led out of the barracks and released to the Canadian Embassy official, she was relieved to be alive and free, but she also knew that she could not leave her friend.

 

Karen turned back into the jail and went to Marcella’s cell. The soldiers, shocked, handcuffed her, and mocking her asked if she had come back for more. Trying to explain herself Karen said to them, in Spanish “You know what it’s like to be separated from a compañero.”

The soldiers did understand what she was saying, and moved by her words, released both women. [3]

 

Karen Ridd demonstrated the power of peaceful, non-violent action. She also demonstrated what it is to love one’s compañero, one’s neighbor, one’s companion, as oneself.

 

During the week of Trump’s inauguration, our Moderator, Jordan Cantwell, wrote an article to the Church entitled, “I Love Trump.” In it she confessed her “serious misgivings about his policies and pronouncements.” But, she asserted “he is a child of God, just like me, so I must treat him with dignity, respect, and love.” She challenged all of us to refuse to give in to hate, noting that “Love does not turn a blind eye to injustice or a deaf ear to the cries of the oppressed. The love that we are called to embody as followers of Christ demands that we defend the dignity and worth, the well-being and integrity of everyone—including the oppressors.”[4]

 

I found Jordan’s article incredibly challenging. I agree with what she said. And I affirm that non-violence as practiced and taught by people like Karen Ridd is faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Yet, my own life experiences and political observations also make me aware of the challenges

of how bad the bad can really be.

 

So too, that competing moral values, even competing good moral values, even in the hands of trust worthy politicians, frequently require measured compromises that make most political decisions imperfect.

 

And sometimes this is the case in our personal moral decisions as well. The good of loving a neighbor can compete with the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable.

 

I once took to court someone who threatened to kill me. I did not do it out of revenge. I thought, at the time, that it was the best means to get help for someone who’s behavior was out of control and unacceptably violent. It did not work. It is a failure that I have had to accept. And that has underscored for me the complexities and ambiguities of trying to love the neighbour as oneself.

 

 

When Peter was ordained in 1969, our pastor, who had confirmed us and married us said,

as we headed into the Alberta sunset and our first parish, –you might find that one of the most difficult things in ministry is loving, not the world, or even your parishioners, —but your colleagues.

 

Yes–those who see the world differently; those who understand the gospel, theology, ecclesiology and mission differently, to say nothing of their irritating ideological and temperamental idiosyncrasies.

 

G.K. Chesterton said, “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor” For most of us our very first neighbours are our family. We don’t choose them either. They are given to us, warts and all. And remarkably, most people, even if they would never chose their family members as friends,v do love them in some fashion– –even many who have been horribly defiled or let down by their families and then need compassionate therapy to sort through such terrible complexities.

 

Loving the neighbour as oneself, may be a central concept in most religions and philosophies

–but it is not an uncomplicated or easy task.

 

Barbara Brown Taylor, one of North America’s preeminent preachers, says “the hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self— to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince, or control,

but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.”[5]

 

Spiritual work– that is what Barbara Brown Taylor names it, and that is what Leviticus names loving the neighbour to be, saying: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

 

The good news in this statement, “You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy,” is that we are made in God’s image. –Holy, as God is holy. Within us there is a spark that makes it possible, with God, to do what is right. And when we fail or make mistakes, with God there is forgiveness.

 

Jesus, by pairing, loving God with heart, soul and mind, with loving neighbor as the self,

also names loving the neighbor as spiritual work. Within the church loving our nearest neighbour in the pew, let alone those down the street or in other denominations, –is hard spiritual work.

 

In 1998 Gil Rendle of the Alban Institute published something called Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences. It was reviewed as a down-to-earth workbook to help congregations “value differences and grow through them rather than trying to ignore or blend them.”[6]

 

Former UCC moderator Marion Pardy introduced Rendle’s work as Holy Manners during a particularly fractious time of transition in the Church’s national offices and in the General Council Executive.

 

Since that time many governing bodies, Conferences and congregations in the United Church, including Trinity St Paul’s, as well as many other congregations in other denominations have adopted Holy Manner codes to give specific guidance to how to do the hard, spiritual work of loving one’s nearest neighbor in the church.

 

These codes give concrete guidance to prepare people to listen well to each other; to see one another as God’s own beloved people, who have valuable ideas and thoughts to contribute. They give guidance for how to disagree and challenge one another respectfully.

 

TSP has been working with a covenant of Holy Manners at the board level and would welcome opportunities to introduce this covenant work more widely in the congregation.

 

It is a process that is in continuity with the central core of both the first and second biblical testaments as well as other world religions and philosophies.

 

When Karen Ridd’s jailers saw how she was prepared to love her companion, they were moved by such love and set them free. And Barbara Brown Taylor says, such loving can set us free from ourselves, if we let it.

 

By creating and being a community of faith where loving the neighbour as one’s self is not just a faith statement or something that we offer to the world but is something that: through intentional, disciplined, spiritual practice, we live out, we thereby create a community of faith that can empower and encourage each one to tap that holy spark within so that we can do and live what we are called to do and be both individually and collectively.

 

And so too, each one can know deep within heart, soul and mind, how unconditionally each one of us is loved by God forever and ever. Amen.

 

Preached by Joan Wyatt at Trinity St Paul’s United Church, Toronto, October 22, 2017

Willis Davidson’s Fruitcake

This is the most frequently requested recipe in the STAR. It’s from an old cookbook from 1982 edited by the food editor Jim White. We make ours in November, wrap it in cheesecloth and tin foil and keep it cool in our basement. It’s a two-day process really. Chopping and soaking one day, then mixing and wrapping the next.

 

Definitely not a health food staple, but delicious, festive and cheering. These cakes make great gifts as well. Willis Davidson is from Winchester ON. And has made this cake for 50 years.

 

A pretty big project, but worth it in the end. We have just enough left each year to see us through until New Years.

 

2 1/2 cups (about 1 lb)                  chopped pitted dates

2 cups (about 1 lb)                        chopped candied citron peel

2 cups (about 12 oz/360 gms)         seeded muscat or Lexia raisins

2 cups (about 12 oz/360 gms)         Thompson or sultana raisins

1 1/2 cups (about 8 oz/250 gms)     currants

1 1/2 cups (about 7 oz/200 gms)     blanched whole almonds

1 1/2 cups                                   drained maraschino cherries, chopped (reserve 1/2 c liquid)

1/2 cup                                      brandy or fruit juice

1 can (19 oz)                               crushed pineapple, undrained

2 cups                                        granulated sugar

1 cup                                         strawberry jam

4 cups                                        all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons                           baking soda

2 teaspoons                                cinnamon

1 teaspoon                                  salt

1/2 teaspoon                               ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon                               ground allspice

2 cups                                        butter

2 cups                                        granulated sugar

12                                             eggs

brandy

cheesecloth

 

 

Day 1

  1. In a large bowl, mix together dates, citron peel, raisins, currants, almonds and drained cherries; stir in brandy. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.
  2. In a saucepan, combine pineapple and 2 cups of sugar; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently 30 to 40 minutes, or until mixture thickens. There should be 2 1/2 cups of pineapple mixture. Remove from heat and stir in reserved cherry liquid and strawberry jam. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Day 2

  1. Generously grease and line five 9×5 inch loaf pans, or 3 wedding cake pans with waxed paper, aluminum foil or parchment; grease lining.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and allspice; add 1 cup of flour mixture to date-raisin mixture and toss to thoroughly coat fruits.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and 2 cups of sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. In small amounts, stir flour mixture and pineapple mixture into butter mixture, alternating additions; blend well. Fold in date-raisin mixture. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Place a large, shallow pan on bottom rack of oven. Fill half full of hot water and heat oven to 275 degrees F. Place loaf pans on middle rack and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. (cakes cooked in wedding cake pans will require 3 to 3 1/2 hours.)
  5. Remove cakes and let cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; peel off paper and let cakes cool on racks. Wrap individually in cheesecloth soaked in brandy. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Store in cool place. Do not freeze, as coldness numbs cake and prevents flavour from developing. Douse with brandy periodically.

 

Makes 5 loaves, each about 2 1/4 pounds.

About the TSP Times

The TSP Times is a bi-monthly newsletter for members and friends of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church. Submissions from all members of the congregation are welcome. Please send your articles to avilbeckford@gmail.com.  The deadline for the next issue is January 22, 2018.

[1] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129706379 and http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/689306/jewish/On-One-Foot.htm

[2] https://www.quora.com/Is-%E2%80%9Clove-your-neighbor%E2%80%9D-a-%E2%80%9Creligious%E2%80%9D-concept

[3] http://www.calpeacepower.org/0202/pdf/Karen_Ridd.pdf

[4] http://www.united-church.ca/news/moderator-i-love-donald-trump

[5] Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (New York: HarperOne, 2009),chapter6.

[6] https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1566992095/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=33064

On the Ground in Palestine, Nov. 20, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine, Nov. 20, 2017

On Nov. 3 at around 7 a.m., Civil Administration officials, together with security forces and four bulldozers arrived at the Badu al-Baba community near ‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem.  The forces destroyed three pre-fab homes that housed four families, leaving 27 people, including 18 children and youths, homeless. The forces also demolished two bathroom stalls donated by a humanitarian aid organization. The most recent abuse the community was subjected to by the authorities was on Sept. 11 when forces confiscated equipment used to repair the community’s access road.

 

On July 22, three residents of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley were grazing their flocks on nearby pastureland when a dud – unexploded munitions – went off, killing ‘Udai Nawaj’ah, 16. At least two other Palestinians have been killed in the Jordan Valley in similar circumstances since 2014. The military trains close to Palestinian communities as part of a policy aimed at taking over the area, and does not make sure to remove unexploded ammunition. This illegal practice violates the residents’ rights and endangers their lives.

 

According to Sabeel, Jerusalem: 
A new report by Israeli rights groups B’Tselem and HaMoked  accuses Israel of “systematic abuse” of young Palestinians arrested after attending protests in occupied East Jerusalem, ignoring laws to protect teenagers’ rights, detaining them in the middle of the night and questioning without a lawyer present.

Due to American intervention, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is delaying bringing the “Greater Jerusalem Bill” for a vote during his cabinet meeting. The bill would annex a number of the illegal Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to the city of Jerusalem in order to make the Jewish population greater than the Arab population, strengthening the Jewish hold on the city.

 

A group of British activists, organized by our friends in Amos Trust, walked for 174 days from the U.K. to Jerusalem as a symbolic act of penance to apologize for the injustice of the “Balfour Declaration” which marks its 100th anniversary this November. The activists concluded their visit with a worship service at St. George’s cathedral in Jerusalem.

 

Seven Palestinians were killed, and 12 others were wounded after Israeli forces blew up an underground tunnel between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel at the end of last month.

 

The Times of Israel reported Nov. 8 that Jerusalem authorities granted building permits for 240 homes in East Jerusalem.

From the Middle East Working Group