Oriole-York Mills United Church Newsletter February 2010
In this issue:
Our Pastor’s Message
Suffering Inside the Circle of God’s Love
Our Pastor’s Message:
Suffering Inside the Circle The terrible images of the devastating
of God’s Love ………….…1 earthquake in Haiti have been emotionally
wrenching. It was significant enough for me
A Message from Rev. Val ...3 to change the theme of my message on
Council News ……………….5 January 17th. I wanted to say something
about human suffering and God.
The Meaning of Stones ……7
Jesus spoke to the issue of suffering and its
Social Justice Action .………8 cause in Luke 13:1-5. A tower unexpectedly
fell and killed 18 people. Some people then
DVRR Update ...…..........….. 9 asked Jesus questions we all ask: Why did
this happen? Who was to blame? Were
Did You Know? – Daylight those 18 killed because of their sin? Jesus
Saving Time ………………10 told them, no, the people killed were no
worse than anyone else living in Jerusalem
Thanks to Contributors …..11
who escaped the tragedy. Those people just
Save Trees and Money happened to be in the wrong place when the
Either Way ……………..…..11 tower fell.
Contributions and We often suffer innocently because we
Suggestions …..….………..11 happen to be in the wrong place. In the midst
of great global or personal tragedies,
Your OYM Calendar .…..…12 emotions of grief, despair, doubt and anger
may rise within us and we cry out with
Contact OYM .…….….…..…12 questions that have no answers. Those who
know God understand that is OK. We stand
in a long line of faithful believers – from prophets to psalmists, including Job
– who did not understand what was happening to them, or why, and whose
emotions and questions spilled out before God.
There are some people now as then who will try to supply answers. Besides
those who are always blaming God in situations like this, there are also
others who think they are explaining God. ‘Job’s comforters’, they are called.
But they usually get it wrong. For according to God – and that’s whose
opinion counts! – Job did not suffer because of his sin. When Job
encountered God, he did not hear a detailed explanation of why he suffered
but, in a strong yet compassionate manner, he heard that God wanted to
restore the relationship Job had with him before his circumstances changed.
Job responded to God by repenting for even thinking God may have caused
the tragedies in his life. For God did not cause Job’s suffering!
I do not think we offer our heart-wrenching laments in suffering primarily to
get answers. But, rather, through our laments of grief, pain and suffering,
we are joined empathetically to others and, most importantly,
compassionately to God. There have been remarkable news reports of
crowds of people singing together on the open streets of Port-au-Prince –
singing Haitian hymns of lament (understandably) but also (amazingly!)
hymns of praise to God.
We have only a limited understanding of why terrible things happen. But
that does not mean there is nothing to say. Scripture urges us to seek God
– the living God who lives in the centre of tragedy, suffering with us and for
us. Is this witness not seen most clearly in the cross of Jesus, where God
joined with us in suffering an unjust and cruel death out of his love for all
humanity? My friends, God does not cause chaos but enters into it with us.
God does not send calamity but suffers with us through it. God does not
stand over us but holds tightly onto us and promises never to let us go. No
wonder Paul declared so powerfully in Romans 8:35-39: “Who, then, can
separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or
persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? I am certain there is
nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of
God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Lamentations 3:19-24, Jeremiah responded to the fall of Jerusalem: “The
thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it
constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember
this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the
morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put
God not only suffers with us but God also works through us. Helen Keller
said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of
it.” Jesus said: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and
you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and
you clothed me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus called the Church to be his
healing and helping presence wherever there is suffering in the world.
Giving through proven organizations you already trust is the best way to
donate. Our United Church is also appealing for donations to support relief
and reconstruction efforts in Haiti in partnership with the ACT Alliance – a
network of churches and Christian aid agencies that enables global
responses to emergencies and development needs. So let us pray for the
people of Haiti and share generously.
For more on the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) and their work in
Haiti, visit http://www.act-intl.org
A Message from Rev. Val …
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2010! In this Season after Epiphany, we
explore and discover ways the light of Christ becomes alive in the life
and work of Christian faith communities. Along with the Youth we
continue to learn more about our shared Christian faith alive and growing as
we journey together. We are very happy and privileged to welcome the
Adult Mentors who will continue to meet with the Youth every third Sunday of
the month. January 18th marked our first ‘Confirmation Lunch and Learn’
event which went very well. During this time the discussion focused on
exploring why we need to be part of a faith community and further explored
how Jesus’ ministry helps shape our lives everyday.
At the First Sunday of Advent Service the OYM children and youth helped
as servers for Holy Communion and offered their leadership in the ‘Family
Time Spiritual Reflection’ as they explored through liturgical movement
how we are moved to serve as an ‘Instrument of Peace.’ This helped the
congregation to explore deeper ways to feel and live an inspiring faith!
The Monthly Amica Worship Services continue to be well received as was
the Advent Holy Communion Service. There will be a special Valentine’s
Worship Service planned for the folks at Amica to enjoy soon! Those at
Cedarhurst and Lifestyles continue to enjoy the weekly bulletins and, of
course, the Christmas cookies and Christmas messages from the children
As we come to celebrate Black History Month during February we
remember that we are the Body of Christ “called to love and serve others, to
seek justice and resist evil”. Let us celebrate and reflect on how our
brothers and sisters throughout the world enrich our learning of how to serve
as Christ’s Body! ‘Believe It, God’s Riches are Here!’ is the Youth
Workshop from Mission and Service that we will explore in the coming
weeks throughout their journey as Confirmands.
Over the coming months the children and youth hope to interview and
explore with our Senior members at OYM what happened as they and their
families celebrated the birth of The United Church of
At OYM or your Canada in 1925 and what church life was like in
home, let the those early years. If you were alive in 1925, or born
young people soon after, please let the young people hear your
hear your memories – this could be at OYM or in your home.
memories of the Reports of these memories will be part of our learning
early years of journey as the OYM family of faith discover more
the United about our United Church when OYM celebrates the
Church of 85th Anniversary of Church Union on Sunday June
Canada 6th, 2010. Yes, “We have this ministry,” as
together we grow deeper in our faith understanding.
We are the Body of Christ, “O God receive our living!” (VU #510)
God’s Blessings to You! In Christ’s Service,
For further information concerning volunteering your Church Union Story, as
well as Youth Confirmation, Outings, and requests for Pastoral care visits,
please contact me at tel. # 416-417-4439; @ email@example.com; @
firstname.lastname@example.org or through Jean at the Church Office.
First I want to congratulate and thank everyone in the congregation who
responded so well over the last two months of 2009 to our local givings
campaign. With your generous support, we increased our givings from
$73,165 as of October to $103,114 as of the end of December. In doing so,
we exceeded by nine per cent our 2009 goal of $94,300. This gain of some
$30,000 over two months is very impressive and reassuring.
I think Reverend Chris’s October sermon on giving had much to do with this
outcome along with a very enjoyable series of Advent season services on
the theme of ‘Get Connected With Christmas’. Along with Chris, your
Worship and Christian Education Committee, Derrick – our Director of
Music, members of the Choir and our children from Sunday’s Cool who
performed in the Cantata deserve a special vote of thanks for their sustained
efforts to make this past Christmas such a joyous and memorable one. It is
certainly also appropriate for us to recognize with much appreciation Dianne
Domelle, Elda Scott, and Dave Johnson, with Pedro’s assistance, for the
beautiful and magical ambiance they created in decorating the Sanctuary for
the Christmas season.
It was also encouraging to welcome three new members to our
congregation. For Gale and Brian George, and Nancy Sirois, your decisions
to seek a deeper relationship with us in your spiritual journey have made our
hearts glad. As well, having all those children, their families and friends
present for the baptism service in early December added immensely to
bringing into focus the true meaning of Christmas.
On other matters, your Council has set up a task force consisting of its
Executive Committee and other members of the congregation to review,
assess, and advise on OYM’s Strategic Growth Initiative. We plan to have
an interim report available for our Annual
Annual Congregational Meeting which is scheduled to
Congregational take place on Sunday, February 28th. Please
Meeting on mark this important event on your calendars. It
will be a time to look back and to look forward and,
Sunday February through your decisions there, to give further
28th definition to OYM’s future.
OYM’s new web site was one of the main initiatives taken this past year. We
are very gratified by the response to it since it was launched last October.
Many from within OYM see it as a significant improvement in the way we
project our church life to the world beyond our doors. The site is also
gaining traction in cyberspace with the number of visitors to it increasing by
some 70% between October and December. It is also revealing that next to
the Home Page, the Spiritual Journey page is the second most visited one.
As has been said before, we only get one chance to make a good first
impression. In this light, these initial results are encouraging. A key will be
to keep the content ever-fresh and timely. Again many thanks are due to
those members of the congregation who have provided content for our suite
of web pages.
I do invite everyone to visit our web site (www.oymunitedchurch.net) often
and to continue to provide us with feedback on it. Currently, our Home Page
includes a video of our new Moderator, Mardi Tindal, introducing her open
letter to Canadians on climate change in the aftermath of the Copenhagen
conference she attended. Her entire open letter, with some complementary
images of Canada’s Arctic added, is also posted on our web site at the
God’s Creation section of the Spiritual Journey page. A hard copy version
of her letter is also available each Sunday on the table in the entrance
lounge. I highly recommend everybody to read it and reflect on its key
messages and call to action. These key messages and call to action also
relate to our mission of being faithful stewards of God’s creation.
See you in church on Sunday!
The Meaning of Stones
… Lynn Watt, reporting on the ‘Equipping Ambassadors of
Reconciliation’ conference last November
Participants walked in a circle around the room and, from a collection of
stones placed on a table, each chose a stone to take home. As we held the
stones we had selected, we read together the following Liturgy of the
Leader: This stone comes from this place in which we have gathered.
All: It is part of the Earth, formed by the Creator, just as we are.
Leader: Jesus said stones would cry out if humans remained silent.
All: We will listen to our hearts and speak from them.
Leader: Stones like this have marked graves.
All: Jesus rose out of death into a new life and the stone was rolled
away from his grave.
Leader: Stones like these mark paths for those who journey.
All: This stone in our hands will mark the way we journey toward
Leader: Like words and broken trust, stones can be used to break apart,
hurt and injure.
All: In our hands this stone will be a sign of the strength of what
we can build together.
Participants in this liturgy quoted above were attendees at a conference
called ‘Equipping Ambassadors of Reconciliation’. The liturgy was part of
the closing ceremony. The conference was a three-day event held in Orillia
last November and was attended by members of the United, Anglican and
Presbyterian churches in Ontario and Quebec.
The hoped for reconciliation is with the First Nations peoples of this land,
formerly known to them as Turtle Island and the promise of reconciliation is
that we will forge a new and honourable relationship, with justice and dignity
for all. The stones that were part of the closing ceremony would symbolize
the commitment of those in the church to such right relationships with First
At Oriole-York Mills United Church we too use stones in our worship as a
symbol of commitment, to our faith and also to serve as a reminder to us to
reflect on our thoughts and actions. A stone from an OYM service two
weeks earlier was taken to Orillia and became part of the closing ceremony
at the ‘Equipping Ambassadors of Reconciliation’ conference.
In this way, the dedication of Oriole-York Mills to right relationships became
part of a ceremony of reconciliation and, in turn, the spirit of reconciliation
was rekindled at Oriole-York Mills.
Social Justice Action
Fairlawn United Church hosted a multi-church meeting last December about
social justice. Moira Mancer and Lynn Watt represented OYM at this
meeting. Each church described their community and worldwide outreach
support and then the group got down to talking about social justice.
While Outreach can be described as addressing immediate needs and
tangible help, social justice addresses the systemic causes of injustice that
often result in the need for Outreach. Social justice is generally long term
and more difficult than Outreach. Outreach, such as the OYM’s charitable
activities, addresses needs right now and must not be ignored while injustice
The conclusion at the December meeting was that we should meet again to
have more time to discuss which social justice issue to champion and how
such an objective could be achieved. Social justice action involving many
churches could bring a stronger voice to local, provincial and national
political circles. This could involve writing letters, visiting representatives,
and signing petitions in the future.
What’s next? Until Moira and Lynn have something more definite to report
about social justice, there is a way to help reduce poverty in Ontario. Since
June 2009, the Stop Community Food Centre has issued a challenge:
‘Do the Math’ in support of a $100 per month Healthy Food Supplement
to social assistance rates – revised rates are expected in the March
budget. The Stop provides an online survey allowing you to compare
your estimates of a basic needs budget with what people on Ontario
Works and on the Ontario Disability Support Program receive. The
results come as a surprise and you can send a letter to Premier Dalton
Help reduce poverty by visiting http://dothemath.thestop.org
Last August, a Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) team provided a 5-day
orientation at the Al Hol Camp on the Syria-Iraq border. This is the refugee
camp where the DVRR-sponsored Palestinian family wait to come to
Toronto. COA is part of the International Organisation for Migration and is
funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The COA program is new
to DVRR – as it reassures newcomers, so it will help settlement.
The OAC program provided some basic English and covered the following
facts about Canada,
Canadian geography, climate, and weather,
travel procedures to Canada,
information relating to their Private Sponsorship,
their rights and responsibilities, and Canadian laws,
working in Canada,
cultural shock adaptation, and
other topics relating to the needs and specific questions of the group.
It was reported that the refugees seemed
less anxious about their upcoming
departure and about the changes following
their arrival in Canada. The letter with this
news came with a photo of DVRR’s
sponsored Palestinian family. Shown on
the left are Amneh Al-Sama’neh, Mamdooh
Al-Madi Kazem, with their OAC certificates,
and their young daughter Fatima.
After the news of the OAC program came the news of the birth of Mohamed
Mamdooh Atef Al-Madi on December 15th, 2009. The pregnancy and arrival
of Mohammed has delayed the sponsored family’s travel to Canada. So
now DVRR waits to welcome this Palestinian family with two children to
DVRR raised $3,976.48 through the sale of flower bulb kits and donations
last fall. Elaine Bremer and Moira Mancer thank supporters at OYM for their
contributions. This money will help to support the Palestinian family.
Did You Know? – Daylight Saving Time
Germany and Austria were the first countries to legislate use of Daylight
Saving Time. To conserve fuel during World War I, they moved their clocks
ahead an hour on April 30, 1916. In Canada federal legislation introduced
Daylight Savings Time in the spring of 1918. This legislation was an attempt
to standardise the piecemeal adoption of Daylight Savings across the
country – Nova Scotia and Manitoba had been the first to adopt time
Now it's up to each province to decide whether to
use Daylight Saving Time. As readers know,
Ontario does! In 2010 all readers must move their at 2 a.m. on
clocks forward one hour on the weekend of March Sunday March
13th and 14th. If you will be awake at 2 a.m. on 14th
Sunday March 14th, do it then.
Please don’t arrive at church on Sunday March 14th as the worship service is
Thanks to Contributors
Thanks to the following for contributions for this issue:
Gerry Cooper Council News (page 5)
Lynn Watt The Meaning of Stones (page 7)
Save Trees and Money Either Way
More people could save trees and save OYM money at the same time.
Sign up for ‘The Oriole’ in pdf format by sending an email to ‘The Oriole
If not going the pdf route, you can help to save some trees by leaving
Oriole envelopes for re-use for the next edition of ‘The Oriole’. Envelopes
left from the last Oriole will be used for this edition. If you have no use for
the envelope at home, please leave it in the box provided in the narthex.
Contributions and Suggestions
Contributions and suggestion for future issues of ‘The Oriole’ are welcome
from all readers. Please send contributions and suggestions to ‘The Oriole’
by sending an email (The Oriole <email@example.com>), leaving a
message in the slot for ‘The Oriole’ in the office, or talking to Moira Mancer.
Your OYM Calendar
Coming Sunday Worship Services and Events
Sunday February 14th Mission Sunday, with guest speaker Clovis
Grant from Eva’s Place
Sunday February 21st First Sunday of Lent, starting Lenten theme
Sundays February 21st to Lenten theme during worship services
March 21st including ‘Temptation to Renewal’,
‘Barriers to Renewal’, ‘The Way to
Renewal’, and ‘Prepared for Renewal’
Sunday March 28th Palm Sunday worship with Choir Cantata ‘No
Friday April 2nd Good Friday worship service at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday April 4 Easter Sunday: ‘The Great Renewal’,
including Holy Communion
Other Notable Events
Monday February 8th Bridge Club Session at 1 p.m. in entrance
lounge – all players welcome (subsequent
meetings 2nd Monday each month)
Wednesday February 17th Wednesday Study Group continues: Acts of
Apostles: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in
Sunday February 28th Annual Congregational meeting following
Tuesday March 2nd Council Meeting at 7 p.m. in entrance lounge
Contact OYM: Oriole-York Mills United Church
2609 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, M2L 1B5
Phone: 416-447-5941 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org