Welcome to the Rev. Joan Wyatt and The Rev. Dr. Peter Wyatt
The Rev. Joan Wyatt and The Rev. Dr. Peter Wyatt have joined Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church as our supply ministers for the remainder of 2017. They led the worship service for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 24th.
Peter Wyatt is a former principal of Emmanuel College where he taught in the fields of ecumenism, mission and congregational leadership. He was ordained by Hamilton Conference in 1969 and served pastorates in Alberta and Northwest, Bay of Quinte (Port Hope), Hamilton (Melrose), and Toronto Conferences. Following a joint pastorate at Trinity-St. Paul’s in Toronto (1989- 1995) with his wife, Joan, he became General Secretary for Theology, Faith and Ecumenism of the United Church. He has served three times as academic dean of the biennial Global Institute of Theology sponsored by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. He is editor of Touchstone, a theological journal committed to the importance of theology and heritage in the United Church. He is author of articles both academic and popular, and of two books, Jesus Christ and Creation in the Theology of John Calvin and The Page that Fell out of my Bible.
Joan (Parsons) Wyatt retired in 2011 as Director of Contextual Education at Emmanuel College. From 1999-2006 she was Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Theological Field Education at the Vancouver School of Theology. Ordained in 1986 after a career in nursing and childbirth education, Joan served pastorates at Trinity, Beamsville and Trinity- St Paul’s, Toronto. (1989-1999). Joan has been a speaker, writer and workshop leader in the field of creative worship and the rise of feminism in the UCC. She has twice served as chaplain and worship leader of the biennial Global Institute of Theology sponsored by the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
In May this year, Joan and Peter led a journey to the Luther sites in the former East Germany with a group of thirty pilgrims. In October, they will share leadership with others in Luther’s Legacies, a conference commemorating the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther.
Peter and Joan have four children, three in-law children and six grandchildren under the age of seven. In 2012, they left downtown Toronto and retired to a new home at Lake Cecebe near Magnetawan, ON. Having had a cottage on a shore littered with family members for over forty years, this special place continues to be home for their children and grandchildren today.
We are delighted to welcome Joan and Peter back to TSP!
From Joan and Peter Wyatt, Your Supply Ministers
It was with a sense of adventure that we responded to the invitation to come back to Trinity-St. Paul’s for this brief, three-month stint on which we are embarked. We were intrigued with recent developments and challenges in the life of the congregation, and wondered how things were going. As well, it goes almost without saying that we continue to carry deep affection for a community that we served in the nineties.
Now, as then, TSP is a complex society, both administratively and in terms of the varied interests and passions of the congregation. Getting back involved in the complexity, we have been well supported by your lay leaders and the building staff as we have begun to introduce ourselves to some of the circles and groups in the congregation, and to respond to requests for engagement with varied activities and pastoral concerns. One of your lay leaders made a special effort in helping us find the apartment in which we are now settled.
We have been delighted to greet members whom we have known for many years, feeling our faces lighting up with recognition and warmth. We have been pleased to meet the very able people who have joined TSP in the last several years. It has been encouraging also to meet, and begin to work with, Jared, the church administrator, and Kendra, the general manager of the Centre. We feel privileged to be working in tandem with Brad Ratzlaff again, and are looking forward to hearing from him about his sabbatical at the special service celebrating community and music on Oct. 15th. And sometimes we catch ourselves thinking of the saints of yesteryear who are no longer in our midst. We remember them with affection and gratitude.
Renewing our Vows, Lois Kunkel, Chair of the Church Board
I am so very glad that we held our 35th congregational anniversary party on October 1st. Stories I hadn’t heard about Trinity and St. Paul’s were told. I loved hearing how thoughtful, engaged and persistent the amalgamation was! It revealed so much relationality.
Bill Phipps, our minister from 1974-1983 gave the Sunday reflection and told us about the “Re-Missioning Project” in which mid-city United Church congregations explored together what ministry they could have in the city. I heard in his stories and those told later in the after service story time, the themes we continue to wrestle with. It helped me to view our Interim Ministry with new/old eyes: as a reflective step of re-orienting ourselves in our time now.
We accomplished good things with our Interim Ministry. We struggled with our relationality –with how to live community together, so that we can walk our talk in our city and our world now, in 2017.
Bill stated that, “whereas in 1975, we may have been faith calling for justice, perhaps now we are about justice calling for faith”. He said, “TSP has a reputation about justice”. Then he asked, “Is it also a place where people are welcomed to struggle with the spiritual grounding at the heart of social justice and action?”
So perhaps instead of worrying about our decline in numbers, we view ourselves as the mustard seed. “Seek the wellbeing of the city to which you were called, for on its wellbeing yours depends” (Jeremiah 29).
We have begun our fall-time filled with hope and energy. We were happy to see each other on Welcome Back Sunday and enjoyed visiting over lunch. On September 17th, we offered our gratitude and farewell to Judith for her Interim Ministry. The Search Committee talked about their process and told us the name of the candidate for ministry they were proposing. The congregation voted to accept Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo as our new minister as of January 1, 2018. We were happy to welcome Cheri when she joined our worship for the anniversary Sunday.
We have welcomed Kaylyn Munro, our new Children’s Church coordinator. The choir is delighted to welcome back Brad after his sabbatical, and look forward to the music making. The congregants sitting in the circle of the Delving Deeper conversations are seeking the “spiritual grounding at the heart of social justice” in their monthly meetings.
We are already enjoying the ministry of Rev Joan and Rev Peter Wyatt, who are with us for the next three months. Because of their previous ministries with us, they will help us weave together our past with our present as we orient towards our new future. The Church Board begins to hold monthly meetings, with the alternate meeting focusing solely on the discernment of our vision, as part of the implementation of the Governance report from the Interim Ministry. Soon we will be engaged in the Season for Commitment with its opportunities for congregational meals and conversations. I am certain that I am missing things to highlight and share. Keep your eyes and ears on the TSP listserve!
Bill concluded in his Sunday reflection, “With a new minister, fresh energy and ideas, you can seize the moment in seeking the wellbeing of the city, grounded in the biblical spirituality of hope, love and humility”.
May it be so. Blessed be.
Announcement from the Search Committee
Members: Laura Gallagher-Doucette (co-chair), Barbara Lloyd (co-chair), John Olthuis, Deepak Ramachandran, Paul Stott, Ashwin Ranjit, James Holzbauer.
A formal meeting of our community of faith was held on Sunday Sept. 17, 2017. After the presentation of their report by members of the Search Committee, members agreed by vote to the following: to extend a call to Rev. Dr. Cheri Di Novo effective Jan. 1, 2018 as per the terms that were outlined in the report; to request that Toronto Conference approve this call; and that the Search Committee be disbanded following the covenanting service with our sincere thanks. There will be an opportunity to meet Cheri during and after the service on Oct 1, 2017. Please pray for Cheri and for all of us as a community of faith as we open our hearts and minds to each other’s ministry in this new pastoral relationship.
Rev. Dr. Cheri Di Novo Biographical Information
Sept. 17, 2017 Congregational meeting
The Search Committee unanimously recommends that Rev. Dr. Cheri Di Novo be called as ordained minister to Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.
Cheri is presently the Member of Provincial Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, first elected in 2006. She is known for her $10 minimum wage campaign in 2006-7 and for tabling the most bills in the legislature that have three party support. She has had more private member bills passed than any other MPP in the Ontario record and has had more LGBTQ legislation passed than anyone in Canadian history.
Previous to her government work, Cheri was 12 years in congregational ministry. From 1997-2006, she was minister at Emmanuel Howard Park (now Roncesvales United), a congregation, originally, with 50 in the pews. Together with the congregation, Cheri helped build a vibrant community with two services and 1000 at the Christmas eve service, 35- 50 children in the Sunday School, and a large teen youth group.
Growth came through being inclusive (including performing the first legalized same sex marriage in North America) and by specifically inviting marginalized people to a queer-positive evening service of, not for, the marginalized. Details can be found in her award- winning book, “Querying Evangelism”.
In her settlement church, Brucefield Kippen United, in London Conference, she worked with the congregation to turn a declining church into a community hub in a rural, farming community.
She also worked as ministry staff at West Hill United, Toronto building the congregation, initiating a youth program and alternative service. (Paul Stott has significant memories of this time and can tell a wonderful story of Cheri’s experiential and inclusive outreach at the time.)
From 1984 – 1995, Cheri ran her own Executive Recruitment firm, a feminist enterprise placing women in Public Relations, Advertising, Arts and other positions. Cheri surrendered this lucrative endeavour to pursue full time Christian Ministry to, as she describes it, “Enjoy the greatest profession ever – full time pastoral ministry!”
Overview: Cheri has been a 40-year activist on LGBTQ issues: a) succeeding in getting Toby’s Act passed – legislation to include gender identity and gender expression in the Ontario Human Rights Code. In 2015, she worked for the successful passing of Bill 77 which prohibits “conversion therapy” for youth, a type of psychological torture as a way to change LGBT people into straight ones. It was delisted from OHIP.
She has also had a significant role in passing legislation: to recognize PTSD as a workplace injury; to create zoning changes for cities that address the affordable housing crisis; and to advocate for cyclists and cyclist safety.
Cheri is the winner of several major awards:
- The Lambda Literary Award for spirituality and religion for her book “Querying Evangelism”
- The Award of Merit by the government of Ukraine for her work on Canada’s tri-party bill recognizing the Holodomor as genocide
- The Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Inspire Awards for her lifelong work as an activist for equal rights.
- And others
The Search Committee experienced Cheri as a person of deep integrity who is bright, articulate, personable, enthusiastic and visionary. Her referees spoke of her as a creative collaborator, risk-taker and inspiring activist. Cheri sees both her political career and ministry as about using her voice for the marginalized.
Cheri is a strong, theologically-grounded preacher and brings both experience and ideas for using the arts in worship, and in programs for spiritual nurture for all ages. She hopes her work with TSP will open our doors wide for new people. Like us, she envisions that we will be a child-friendly place and that we will reach out to the most marginalized in our community, including all in our decision-making processes. She brings with her an extensive knowledge and familiarity with the denominational, religious and political communities with which we will continue to work to promote and animate a better world and future for all.
Essentially, Cheri recognizes the need for people’s spiritual hunger to be fed – by deepening relationships with each other, and by deepening our faith in Christ.
The Search Committee believes that, with Cheri’s leadership, energy and passion, we will be able to concretize more fully, our vision of being a Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts – a place of hope, compassion and new life for our larger community and for ourselves.
Welcome to Kaylyn Munro!
A warm welcome to our new Children’s Church Coordinator, Kaylyn Munro. Kaylyn has recently moved to Toronto from British Columbia in order to attend Ryerson University. Her responsibilities are to coordinate the Children’s Church program and to support and encourage the teachers and volunteers as they creatively implement the vision of Trinity-St. Paul’s for the children of our faith community. Kaylyn brings experience as a youth and children’s leader and staff for BC Conference of the United Church as well as Dunbar-Ryerson United Church in Vancouver. Kaylyn offers lots of energy and enthusiasm to our Children’s Church program which is so ably anchored by our teachers Martha Silva and Julia Kim. As well as the responsibilities of Coordinator, Kaylyn will be working with the Tweens group on Sunday mornings. Please introduce yourself and help her feel welcome to our TSP community.
Betsy Anderson and Mary Simpson, Co-Chairs of WAFF
Message from the Church Administrator
Welcome back, TSP! So much excitement in the air as we return from our summer. I want to congratulate the Search Committee on their wonderful work in calling our new minister, Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo. This is great news and an auspicious sign of good things to come!
I also want to thank Rev. Judith Gilliland for her time with us, and the guidance she provided in my role as Church Administrator. I wish her well in her new ministry!
I would also like to welcome supply ministers Rev. Joan Wyatt and Rev. Dr. Peter Wyatt! For some, they are already familiar faces. I am pleased to work with Joan as she supports me in my role.
In preparing for Cheri’s arrival, I am working to make the transition as smooth as possible, as she will bring with her exciting new opportunities to engage the broader community. The Communication team is working in collaboration with Linda Padfield, our Board secretary, to design an accessible, user-friendly guide to action. In the spirit of “bubbling up”, we encourage people to run with their ideas. But where do you run? It can be a daunting task to figure out how to navigate the labyrinth of policies and processes, and we hope to simplify that. By creating a list of “frequently asked questions”, we are answering some of those questions and mapping out a clear path from Point A to Point B. I hope this will support and encourage action from our community!
Finally, I would like to thank each of you. Every person in this place has contributed their gifts and makes TSP a wonderful, vibrant place to call home. I’m excited about the future!
Walk in peace, Jared Scratch, Church Administrator
The Lois Fallis Handbell Choir by Ann Rowland
With great anticipation I write this, as we prepare for the beginning of a new chapter in the life of TSP.
Last June, Betsy Anderson asked me if I would be interested in starting up a Handbell Choir in honour of Lois Fallis. I was indeed interested, as I had been contemplating the possibility of creating a handbell choir for several years.
To honour Lois in this way was indeed a most important criteria. Lois had been a mentor to me, as I struggled to gain my Advanced Certificate in Early Childhood Music Education from the Royal Conservatory of Music and Ryerson University as a mature student.
Through my participation in the North Lakeshore Chorus, I became acquainted with individuals associated with the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers, and had already inquired about participation. Since handbells are usually associated with church services, there are no community groups to join. However, when the idea of beginning a hand bell choir at TSP became a definite possibility, the path became clear.
During the summer, Anne Nikkel, Maureen McKay Thomson, Sandi Hill and I became members of the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers (OGEHR). Through this membership, I was encouraged to secure the borrowing of a three octave set of Malmark handbells that had become available. I was also encouraged to become acquainted with the other supports available: workshops, music lending, peer support, connections provincially.
Building Manager Kendra Fry remained persistent in arranging the back-up resources needed to secure the borrowing of the bells.
The handbells are here and we will begin practicing Sunday October 15, 2017 after church from approximately noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Memorial Room. We need a space that is wheelchair accessible and large enough to accommodate up to 22 ringers.
Each week will involve setting up, putting away, which is in itself a substantial undertaking, as tables, table pads, cases of bells, music, all need to be securely locked up. I am asking for your patience and support as we work through the logistics of starting the Lois Fallis Handbell Choir, in an historical space used by many.
All are welcome, to this inter-generational opportunity to contribute to another way of making music at Trinity-St. Paul’s.
Thank you for your support.
Initial Steps Toward the Glass Surround
On September 27th, the undersigned trustees submitted our report to the full Trustee Board on our consultation with TSP congregation members’ response to a Glass Surround being added onto the Northeast entryway. This proposal had come to TSP from our partner, Tafelmusik, who offered to cover all the installation costs. Both the Church Board and BMB had referred the initial decision to the TSP Trustees, who have responsibility for all major decisions affecting the building.
At least fifty (50) TSP members have shared their responses to this proposal – and to a mock-up photo – over the summer and after services on three Sundays in September. These soundings included an open gathering of interested members on September 24th.
Forty-five members responded positively to an in principle further exploration of this concept by the architects. Twenty (20) liked the design as it was presented; twenty-five (25) approved in principle, but had reservation/suggestions large and small; five (5) were negative about the whole project. For the 25 with some reservations, there were three areas of concern:
- Design: 11 found the photo too boxy and preferred a curved roof complementing the existing curve over the existing door; 2 were concerned about heating and ventilation sources; 3 preferred a ramp or more accessibility.
- Social Impact: 3 felt this design might dislodge street people from these steps; 3 were concerned that it might block the use of our banners; 3 had concerns for that part of the front garden; 1 felt it should express our TSP support for aboriginal lands.
- Other: 3 foresaw concerns for graffiti and/or ongoing maintenance.
Taking all these comments into consideration, we recommended to the Trustees that they approve the concept of a glass surround in principle; that a new design consider the feedback from the TSP congregation (listed above), including assessment of maintenance cost and dangers of vandalism or graffiti; and that the new design allow passersby to see into the church.
After some discussion, the Trustees voted to accept this recommendation.
Next Stages: The Trustees have reported this decision to Tafelmusik and the ERA architects. The Tafelmusik Board will now need to approve a similar approval in principle, so that the architects can get to work on their plans and costing, in preparation for a final stage approval. At this point, it is not clear if construction will take place during the summer of 2018.
We will keep the Trustees, the other TSP Boards and the congregation informed of any progress.
Trustees’ Consultation Task Group: David Craig, Alison Mackay, Bob Fugere
Update on BMB’S Summer
Summertime is usually the time BMB’s staff focuses on renovations and improvements to the TSP building, since we have fewer renters and our staff get to take their holidays. This last summer, however, has been a bit different, mostly positive. We’ve had more casual renters and no major calamities (like accidental basement flooding or Chapel ceiling cave-ins). We’ll give you a summary of those accomplishments, fill you in on our staff, and then outline the main directions we are working on during this fall.
The main renovation focus was on the first-floor bathrooms (financed by Tafelmusik) during late July and August. We’ve had several compliments on the work that I and the contractors carried out. These were appreciated. The Front Office was also fully renovated along with VIVA’s office floor, much of this by Jon Dubay and Lee Tiffany (our Maintenance men). New carpeting was installed in the Memorial Room. As well (not a BMB project), Janet Mairs and her TSP volunteers painted and re-organized the Minister and Church Secretary’s offices. At TMK’s request, we had the North and South cupola windows re-opened to provide at least some Sanctuary draft. To control the sudden downpours – and overflows – on the South side, we replaced the downspouts.
With some other TSP volunteers, we hosted the Annex Family Festival in June and the Annex Ratepayers’ Tour in September. In mid-August we hosted a delegation from Kingston Road United Church to explore our renovations and to explain how we were managing to finally cover most of our operational and Major Items budget. Such groups continue to drop in to learn from our TSP experience.
In response to Annex Montessori’s (AM) request to expand their basement space, we asked three smaller office holders to find other accommodation and they agreed to move out October 1st. AM’s contract has been renewed for five more years and their new space will be prepared this fall.
Our main staff (10 persons) continue to perform very well. Jeff McAllister has taken on the role of Head Custodian, (scheduling, training and supervising). The staff regularly respond to the street folks that seek TSP assistance. On October 15th, they will be further trained by St. John’s Ambulance in first aid and CPR and discuss a congregant’s proposal to include a defibrillator and a naxalone kit for emergency use. Jared Scratch, and staff of TMK, AM and Toronto Consort will be joining in this training.
As we cannot fail to mention, the work of our General Manager, Kendra Fry continues to be crucial in planning and supervising all of the above activities. Our deep thanks.
Directions for the Future
Of course, the Fifth Year Review of the BMB’s role within TSP (as mandated by the Administrative Agreement) is underway with representatives of the Church Board, the Trustees, and the BMB working at that. We hope that the congregation and the many other users of our TSP Centre will take this opportunity to both appreciate what we have together accomplished and suggest new ways we can contribute to our surrounding community.
The Building Management Board is working on outlining the directions that we can contribute. Over the past several years we have put in place most of the structural and mechanical improvements cited in the 2006 engineering report (except the most expensive one of shifting from steam to hot water heating system). Two up-to-date engineering reports are being prepared for the Trustees & BMB. In the meantime, our newest member – Don Willms -is laying out several options to improve our environmental practices and impacts which we will consider.
One last reminder as we end this update. For any of TSP’s members or building residents/users who have compliments or complaints or specific suggestions, we have long provided a written form at the Front Office for such messages. Please request that form, make your comment and we will get back to you.
Susan Craig, Bob Fugere, Lorna Niebergall, Don Willms, and Kendra Fry (the BMB)
Thank You Once Again from the Renewing Spirit 125 Team
On November 29, members of the Renewing Spirit 125 Capital Campaign team gathered for dinner at the home of Betsy Anderson to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the 2012 Anniversary Capital Campaign. We had reached the five-year mark for all the pledges, amounting to $392,516. All but $3,694 of these 116 pledges came through, which is an astounding statistic for a capital campaign.
The total raised was $493,859 of which $101,343 were contributions (not pledges). The Trustees stewarded our capital campaign donations and Bob and Alison Savaria kept track of the details and sent thank you letters, right to the end. Thank you for the love, generosity and loyalty which allowed TSP to meet its share of the cost of our partnership with Tafelmusik to renew the sanctuary and narthex. We are blessed!
Betsy Anderson and Barbara Lloyd were RS125 Co-chairs with Walter Pitman and Kay Fallis as Honorary Chairs. Allison Savaria, Lynne Brennan, Don Chong and Paul Bagnell made up our hard-working team, led by Michael Cooke, our paid consultant.
Connecting with First Nations of Manitoulin by Lynn Jondreville
On the second Saturday of September, a group of nine people – 2 from TSP, 3 from the Redeemer, 1 from Holy Trinity, and 3 from the wider community – headed up to Manitoulin Island. The trip was organized by the Church of the Redeemer Aboriginal Issues Working Group. The program offered opportunities to meet with First Nations, to learn about their history and culture, and to experience the land. The modern Anishinaabemowin name for Manitoulin Island is Mnidoo Mnis, meaning “Spirit Island”. The island is considered sacred by the Anishinaabe people.
Given that the summer weather up to that point had been pretty disappointing, our hopes were simply that the thermometer wouldn’t dip too far below freezing at night. However, good fortune smiled on us – summer did finally arrive. We basked in day after day of gorgeous sunshine and temperatures in the mid twenties. Most of the group had accommodations in two beautiful cabins on Freer Point, a property owned by the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy.
After a couple of nights in a campground bordered by a mosquito infested swamp, the campers among us pulled up stakes and pitched our tents next to the deluxe amenities of the cabins. Situated on the North Channel of Lake Huron, the place was a little bit of heaven; the water was still warm enough for swimming, and there were canoes and kayaks at our disposal. It was sometimes hard to pull ourselves away from this idyll and get on with our program.
Our first outing was to Wikwemikong, the largest Indigenous community on the island, which proudly states that it is the only unceded reserve in Canada. That may seem like a contradiction, but therein lies a clue to their particular history.
We met our guide at their tourist office. He told us that he was of Odawa heritage, and that his people had traditionally lived on the eastern end of Manitoulin. Up to this point, the name Odawa had been floating around in my head as referring to a historical group, but disconnected from any present-day reality. Now it was firmly rooted in a place and people.
We headed off with him to a lookout overlooking Manitowaning Bay. This was the site of a treaty gathering of all the Indigenous communities on the island back in 1836. The Lieutenant Governor at the time was Sir Francis Bond Head. Bond Head subscribed to the view that “Indians were a doomed race” who need to be protected from white civilization. What he proposed at the gathering was that the crown would “relinquish” its claim to the islands (Manitoulin and all the islands on the north shore of Lake Huron) if the local peoples would agree to establishing them as a place where all Indian peoples could come and live totally separate from the “Whites.” Our guide noted that it came as a surprise to them that the crown had any claim on their islands, but they agreed to Bond Head’s proposal. In the crown’s view, it became a “reserve”. In the native peoples’ understanding, it recognized that the land was theirs – in today’s terms “unceded.”
Bond Head had ulterior motives of course, as opposed to the notion that he was simply looking after the well being of native peoples. His goal was to remove the peoples, who were living on the land south of the Bruce Peninsula, so that it could be opened up to settlement. Our guide noted that in fact, very few native peoples did take up the offer to move to Manitoulin.
Fast forward to the year 1862, less than 30 years later. While native peoples from elsewhere had not been interested in moving to Manitoulin, other people were. The colonial government now wanted to reverse their earlier commitment and open up Manitoulin island to settlement. They needed a clear legal cession of the land. Our guide noted that the government argued the position that because the native peoples didn’t cultivate the land, they didn’t really own it.
So, another gathering of all the peoples of the island was convened. The Wikwemikong community, the largest group on the island, was adamantly opposed to giving up their title, and were supported in this position by the Jesuits. At the beginning of negotiations, the native peoples were united, and outright rejected the government’s proposal. Negotiations were recessed by the government. Our guide noted that the Wikwemikong representatives returned home at that point – it was harvest time and they had work to do.
In the absence of the Wikwemikong representatives, the government went ahead and signed a treaty with the smaller communities, allotting them small parcels of land. Divide and conquer. The Wikwemikong never signed the 1862 treaty, and so retain their unceded title to their land agreed to in the treaty of 1836, including all the islands in Georgian Bay.
Next on the tour we visited the site of the Jesuit mission, and the ruins of the residential school. Stay tuned for the next instalment of our Manitoulin trip diary.
Manitoulin Adventure by Darlene Varaleau
In September, Lynn Jondreville and Darlene Varaleau joined the Redeemer Anglican Church’s “Adventures in Learning” program to experience indigenous history, culture, and spirituality on Manitoulin Island. The journey couldn’t have been more successful.
Our day with Odowa elder, Sunny Osawabine, was definitely the highlight of our trip, as we basked in his warm smile, deep knowledge, and great story telling. Sunny advised us to listen only to elders, who welcome everyone as indigenous wisdom is “for all our relations” including settlers, he said quietly. He then guided us up Dreamer’s Rock…one of the most powerful ceremonial sites in northern Ontario.
Our week on Manitoulin Island also provided other treasures including an introduction to the Three Fires Confederacy-Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi—and the history of the unceded territory of Wiikwemkoong. We were guided by an archaeologist through a dig that revealed thousands of years of history on Manitoulin. Our guide through the Ojibwe Cultural Centre introduced us to smudging and a medicine garden in addition to the longest running art institute by and for Anishinaabek peoples. And we toured the Debajehmujig Creation Center (the first and only professional theatre company on a reserve in Canada) and learned of their transformation from live theater to digital media.
When we were not being regaled with indigenous wisdom, history and culture…we had the pure pleasure of a beautiful cottage on a quiet lake; a week of solid sun; great swimming; and great food.
Our journey was pure Magic…pure magic on a magical island.
The life and Work of my “Big Brother”, Rhodes Thompson by Jeanne Moffat
On August 13, 2017 my brother, Rhodes Thompson Jr., died in Claremont, California following a long journey with Alzheimer’s disease. His death came peacefully and all of us in his family felt relieved for him and for his wife/partner, Lois, his three children, and four grandchildren. On October 22nd all of us in his extended family will gather to celebrate his life. There will be many wonderful moments filled with emotion, gratitude, honesty, and laughter, as we think of his years among us!
Rhodes was the oldest of five children (I am the youngest). Our middle sibling had died as a young child before I was born, so this is the first death among the siblings that I know and love. It has been a very reflective time this past month, looking through family pictures and reading his letters to me over the years, along with perusing some of his own life’s work—a few of his sermons and addresses and his book on “Stewards Shaped by Grace”. Rhodes had been a very active justice-seeker throughout his ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA and long into his retirement years. He and Lois worked on such issues as race relations, peace and justice, welfare reform, housing, probation and parole, etc. His ministry encompassed pastorates in the southern and midwest USA, a four-year mission appointment in Japan, leadership in seminars in various countries of the world, several years as associate professor of preaching and practical theology in the graduate seminary at Phillips University in Enid , Oklahoma, a national Board member of Habitat for Humanity, and many other things. He LOVED his work and life in the ministry.
His stewardship principle, a guiding force in his life, is described by him in one of his sermons:
This may give us all something to think about in our Season for Commitment!
Among Rhodes’ papers was an address he presented in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 1976, entitled “Swords into Plowshares: A Call to Peace Conversion”. It was the bicentennial of the USA and Rhodes was calling on his fellow citizens to address the “inversion” in their thinking which had “distorted vision and infected reasoning”. Following many examples of this “inversion”, he called for a “conversion”, a “spiritual and moral change attending a change in belief with conviction”, again with many examples of what that would look like. He ended by quoting a poem entitled “America First” by G. Ashton Oldham (Episcopalian Bishop of Albany, NY), written in 1922 and delivered in a sermon of the same title at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. in 1924. Imagine my surprise and delight to find this in Rhodes’ sermon! I am SURE he would be quoting this right now if he were living. (I found a July 2007 post online by David Walsh about G. Ashton Oldham, in which he notes: “The America First movement was a rabid isolationist initiative, a social and political belief that we should stay away from all foreign encounters….Oldham’s message was a …call to transform ourselves into a nation that is first in ‘things of the spirit’ rather than ‘treading again the old, worn, bloody pathway which ends inevitably in chaos and disaster’.”
I end with the poem, “America First” (1922) by Bishop Oldham:
America first, not only in things material, but in things of the spirit.
Not merely in science, invention, motors, skyscrapers, but also in ideals, principles, character.
Not merely in the calm assertion of rights, but in the glad assumption of duties
Not flouting her strength as a giant, but bending in helpfulness over a sick and wounded world like a Good Samaritan.
Not in splendid isolation, but in courageous cooperation.
Not in in pride, arrogance, and disdain of other races and peoples, but in sympathy, love, and understanding.
Not in treading again the old, worn, bloody pathway which ends inevitably in chaos and disaster, but blazing a new trail along which, please God, other nations will follow into the new Jerusalem where wars shall be no more.
Some day, some nation must take that path—unless we are to lapse into utter barbarism—and that honor I covet for my beloved America.
And so in the spirit and with these hopes, I say with all my heart and soul, “America First”.
Well done, big brother! May you rest in the peace of God that passes all understanding. And may we all take up the challenge to live our lives as best we can to seek justice in the world.
Love and peace, Jeanne
P.S. To friends in Trinity St. Paul’s Church, I am thinking of hosting a conversation in my home for those of you who wish to hear more of my reflections on Rhodes. If you are interested, let me know.
What Does the Roll Clerk Do?
The Roll Clerk keeps the official United Church of Canada (UCC) Historic Roll book up to date. The Historic Roll assigns a number to every member who belongs to the UCC. Members are assigned this number when they join TSP or transfer into it. Associate members are not assigned a number because they belong to the congregation, but not UCC.
In the TSP Directory, members are noted with an asterisk. The Directory and the Roll are used to compile the annual statistical reports for UCC and for TSP. Baptisms, Marriages, and Transfers in and out, and Deaths are recorded as prescribed by UCC policies and procedures. The Roll Clerk works closely with the Minister and with the Church Administrator to ensure the information is accurate.
What does the Member Coordinator do?
The Member Coordinator keeps track of members or those interested in becoming members and those who have died or otherwise transferred out of the congregation. The Member Coordinator works with the Administrator and the Congregation to keep contacts (Directory) up to date. The Member Coordinator works with the Minister and people interested in becoming new members of TSP and UCC.
Linda Dawn Pettigrew, Roll Clerk and Member Coordinator
What’s on My Mind by Avil Beckford
I read a lot. I even host a reading challenge where we read the world and read books to develop skills needed for future jobs. There are websites I visit daily to download free books, and a good friend works for a publisher, so I get a lot of books from her. I read books from many genres, and there is nothing like a good murder mystery to keep me engaged.
I have read many good books that I recommend, but over the past year, there are two books that made me stop to think about the role of technology in our lives. I am not against technology. I use technology as a tool to make me more productive. The way that I use my cell phone for instance, is very different from the way that the typical person who attends TSP uses theirs. One friend said to me that I was at one with my phone. That surprised me, but when she explained what she said, I had to agree.
Back to the two books — Game Changer by Douglas E. Richards and The Feed by Nick Clark Windo.
This is a science fiction novel. In the book, there is a technology where you can upload years of broad and deep knowledge into your brain – matrix learning. While I’m reading the book, I’m thinking, this is cool even though it is pure fiction. Or is it? I researched matrix learning, and discovered that it will one day be a reality – and not in the distant future. It is closer than you think. Even though I thought that kind of technology would be cool, I was concerned. Would people bother to read anymore? How would they exploit the technology?
What I loved about the book, is that it looked at the negatives of the technology. In Game Changer, not everyone has access to the technology, you must have a brilliant mind first. And the government decides who has access to the technology. This would be another way to separate people, expanding the technology divide.
This is a science fiction dystopian novel. I found the scenario in the book frightening and unsettling. In the world in which the novel is set, people can stream information, and any information they need, is at their virtual finger tips. Say for instance you are in a restaurant, you do not have to verbally place your order because the waitress can see what you want. And since she has access to your Feed, she does not have to write down your order.
People no longer talk, read, or even take time to learn a new subject. They do not have to because they have the Feed, people can see what you are thinking and vice versa and you can grab any information at any time.
One day the Feed collapses, chaos reigns, and life becomes oppressive. People have to learn to talk since they cannot stream. And if you relied on the Feed completely, you are now at a disadvantage because you are clueless about a lot of things. People become violent because resources are scarce. There are a few issues with the writing, but the scenario in the book, made me pause.
Game Changer and The Feed are two books worth talking about, and even discussing. I read an advanced reader copy of The Feed by Nick Clark Windo, which will be released in March 2018.
VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto
TSP Organist Brad Ratzlaff and his wife Carol Woodward Ratzlaff are Co-Artistic Directors of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. VIVA!’s five choirs, for ages four through adult, offer members the opportunity to achieve artistic excellence in a singer-centered, collaborative choral community, featuring inclusion and youth mentoring programs.
There is Still Time to Sign Up to Sing in VIVA!’s New Community Choir
New this fall is VIVA!’s Community Choir, an SATB Choir for young adults and mature adults. Membership is by application with no musical audition required.
The VIVA! Community Choir is just that, a unique singing community whose members wish to sing challenging, substantial repertoire with a message of social justice at its core.
A component of this choir is the inclusion of core ECS members (singers with special needs). Core ECS members will join the Community Choir for vocal warm ups. They will receive support from the Community Choir membership and will perform at least one song with the Community Choir at concerts.
Rehearsals are held Mondays from 7:30-8:45 at TSP.
Singers in the Community Choir will receive high quality instruction from Co-Conductors Brad Ratzlaff and Carol Woodward Ratzlaff.
Tuition fees apply for the season which ends with a June 2 Concert.. $220 for Students and Retirees; $320 for Working Adults.
For an application, see Carol or Brad or email VIVA!’s Manager Susan Suchard –firstname.lastname@example.org
VIVA!’s Upcoming Events
Sunday November 5 Peace Concert – 3pm, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. VIVA!’s Chamber/Community/ECS Choirs present a 45 minute Peace Concert. Donations at the door. This will be a silent concert. (No applause.)
VIVA!’s Annual Poinsettia Fundraising Sales Campaign
Monday December 4 – Poinsettia Pickup in the Trinity St. Paul’s Narthex from 11:30AM to 7PM.
For an order form: email@example.com or 416-788-8482.
Celebrating the May long weekend with Botros and Niro by Lynn Jondreville
On the long weekend in May, I introduced Botros and his friend Niro to that quintessential Canadian experience – “going to the cottage.” Of course, sitting in traffic on the way out of the city is an inescapable part of the ritual, and we were not spared that ordeal. Five hours later we arrived at Green Bay, north of Kingston. Fortunately, we were spared the ordeal of the black flies – it was a sparkling, bug free, picture perfect spring day.
We were soon on the water in a row boat. Niro captured every entertaining moment on her iPhone as Botros gamely learned to master this new skill. We capped the day off barbequing burgers on the deck as the sun set. City boy that he is, Botros allowed that it would be a good idea to cut down the trees that were blocking our view of the water. I set him straight on that.
Sunday’s forecast was cool and rainy, so we headed off to Ottawa to join the crowds ogling the tulips (and taking the requisite selfies). Botros and Niro spotted a family group they recognized as South Sudanese and had a brief chat. After a quick tour of the downtown landmarks (including a fleeting drive- by- glimpse of the Prime Minister’s house) we ended up in the market for lunch. Having them try a Montreal smoke meat sandwich was high on my list of things to do, so we headed to Dunn’s Deli.
Part way through the meal, our attention was drawn to a group of teenagers hanging around on the sidewalk in front of us. It soon became clear they were dealing in pills of some sort, so for the next half hour or so, we sat mesmerized as this illicit drama unfolded – pitiful drug addicted buyers, tough looking older man supervising the operation, and the teenagers seemingly out for an afternoon lark – all played out in the heart of trendy Byward market. Oh, the attractions the tourist brochures fail to alert you to.
Monday the weather began to improve, but was still on the cool side as you can deduce from the picture. We raised our glasses to Queen Victoria and to the beginning of a promising summer. After dinner, I stretched out on the dock to absorb every bit of the natural serenity before we headed back to the city. When it came time to leave, I went looking for my companions. I found them in the cottage, heat cranked up, absorbed in their iPhones. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…
Sponsorship Update: Our sponsorship of Botros was officially over as of the end of August. He has expressed his deep gratitude for the support of the congregation. He will be in an adult school program for one more year, improving his English language skills. While his employment with the painting company ended (it went out of business), his skill set is highly marketable, so he doesn’t anticipate any problems supporting himself.