There is a general sense this year that our celebration of Canada Day ought to be muted. It’s still Canada Day, and it’s still a holiday, but the events of the last few weeks suggest that a big party isn’t appropriate. The discovery of the location of unmarked graves on the grounds of three residential school properties has caused grief, anger, and the need to do some soul-searching.
I’m reminded of the motto of the Order of Canada, the second highest civilian honour granted in Canada. Each medal us inscribed with Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam, meaning, “They desire a better country.” While it’s not the motto of Canada, it seems to sum up the shared desire of Canadians: we can always do better. Whether it’s in the realm of public policy, the arts, education, athletics—our desire to do better is what unites us.
The crisis that we are currently experiencing should call to that deep urge to improve, to become the better country we seek. We begin by being attentive to the news, to understand what is happening in this moment. We continue by educating ourselves, doing the reading and research required to understand how we got to this place. And finally to reach out, to seek reconciliation. The United Church of Canada has been working on this since the 1980s, and continues to seek reconciliation. Here is a page that explains our efforts.
Perhaps a good place to start is to read the 94 Calls to Action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, which can be found here.
The Chair of your Church Council, Kathy Steiner, send along the following update regarding the pastoral search: “The search team has completed the position description for a supply minister and have posted it on the United Church Hub website where potential candidates can apply. We will keep you updated of all changes.” Thank you Kathy and Church Council Executive members.
Summer services continue with six Sundays “at” Central (June 20 to July 25). We then shift to Weston Presbyterian Church for the remaining six Sundays (August 1 to September 5). All services begin at 10 am. Central’s summer services will follow the now familiar format, with an online service and Zoom worship (with the addition of WPC) at 10 am. There is a slight chance of in-person worship, so we will keep you posted.
Will all Zoom invitations, there is an option to join by telephone. Here are some instructions:
1. To join by phone, choose a local number from the “Dial by your location” section of the Zoom invitation.
2. Dial one of the 647 numbers and key in the Meeting ID when prompted, followed by the # key.
3. Ignore the request for a Participant ID and press # again.
4. Add the meeting Passcode and press # (once in the meeting, press *6 to mute and unmute)
Thanks to our Zoom hosts (Faith, Kathy, Joyce, and Kerri) as well as Jenny and Heather for making our weekly worship by Zoom possible.
The Church Council Executive continues to monitor the financial picture at Central. PAR is a blessing for us, along with those who have mailed in their offering or made a contribution online. We encourage you to help in any way you can, and we will even send someone to pick up your donation if you can’t get out to the mailbox. We thank you for your continued support. The mailing address is 1 King Street, Weston, Ontario, M9N 1K8 or you can give to Central online with CanadaHelps.
Worship at Central
Worship is currently online only. If you receive this blast, you will also receive an online service, around 8 am on Sunday. The email will include a link to the 11 am service by Zoom.
Readings this week:
Psalm 48: “We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.”
Mark 6.1-13: “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”
Focus on Reconciliation
Barbara Bisgrove sent along a number of articles related to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This article reviews books Barbara has read to improver her knowledge of Indigenous peoples.
“Bone Black” by Carol Rose Goldeneagle: The Cree woman storyteller is faced with the disappearance of her twin sister, and she is not satisfied with the reaction of the local police, so she takes things into her own hands. It is a modern story, set in the Prairies. She makes a living through her pottery and has a kiln which plays a part in the story. “Bone black” is an old glazing technique which she comes to use. The dark turn she takes for personal justice was unpleasant for me, yet I read to the end!
She writes: “Lord agrees to a road trip. He knows it will involve drinking a good deal of gas station coffees, which will likely come with their own stories. He knows that a road trip like this means driving for hours and hours with nothing but wild grass lands, buttes filled with native bush and flora, and harvested crops. He and Wren will be exploring together, celebrating things that are ordinary yet extraordinary. Things like finding delightful greasy-spoon diners and wandering main streets.”
“A Two-Spirit Journey. The Autobiography of a lesbian Ojibwa-Cree elder” by Ma-Nee Chacaby: The book has illustrations, a glossary of Indigenous words, a family tree and a long list of people mentioned with their relationships to others. By the end of the book, I felt I met and understood something of Ma-Nee’s life and her friends and family. She was raised and taught her spiritual and cultural traditions by her grandmother in a remote Ojibwa community near Lake Nipigon. In her own home there was poverty and alcoholism. She suffered physical and sexual abuse from various adults and had a violent husband. An alcoholic herself, she escaped with her children to Thunder Bay. Ma-Nee became sober and trained as alcoholism counsellor. She was a foster mother to many children despite a visual impairment.
Reading the book – not written as great literature but as storytelling – was like listening to life stories at the drop-in, and I was comfortable with the author’s style. She writes: “Most adults I knew in Ombabika were Christian. At times my grandmother also went to services at the Catholic and Protestant churches. She enjoyed the celebrations and socializing that could happen there. My kokum said that white people believed their God lived in a house, but she did not believe that. She instead believed that Gitchi Manitou (the Great Spirit) lived everywhere. Still, my grandmother told me we should be respectful whenever we visited church, and that we should listen ad always try to find at least one good thing in the minister’s sermon to take away and use in our own lives.”
Central at 200
Part of our celebration is to catalog the history of Central and the congregations woven into our fabric. Earlier this year, Marlene, Sylvia, Kerri, and Kevin assisted in transcribing and digitizing our existing history books, from 1971 and 1996. This excerpt is found in the book “The History of Central United Church” (1996) by Eric Lee:
No detail is available about the first church building of 1821, except that it was of log construction and faced on what was then known as “Albion Road” subsequently called in turn “Weston Plank Road,” “Main Street,” and now “Weston Road.” In keeping with the deed of 1821, this church was probably connected with the American Episcopal Church.
In 1849, a larger building was erected, also facing on but closer to Weston Road. This was red brick and seated 220 people, with accommodation for the Sunday School in the basement. The corner stone for this building bore the inscription “Wesleyan Chapel A.D. 1849”. This stone, missing for some years, came back into our possession in 1961. It had been removed when the building was demolished in 1887 to make way for the third church, and put into the wall of a house on the farm of the Dennis family. It was subsequently placed in the west wall of the narthex of the present building, along with the stone bearing the date 1887 which is over the stairway leading to the gallery.
We have a fairly detailed description of the second chapel as contained in a sketch of the life of William Watson, Superintendent of the Sunday School from 1861 to 1883. This was written by his son, the Rev. William G. Watson in 1940 “for the archives of Central United Church, Weston.”
An Element of Truth
Barbara Bisgrove has graciously allowed us to share excepts of her publication “An Element of Truth: Stories Based on What Was Heard and Learned at the Drop-in.” In this section, Barbara shares the firsthand experience of someone who has experienced homelessness.
I fold the sleeping bag and leave it in a dry spot for someone else, grab my backpack and climb up the ravine onto the street. There are only a few people are around. I head to the coffee shop and stand outside with my hand out, hoping for enough cash for food and coffee. If the owner sees me, he chases me away so I’m careful how I do it. Usually, someone anxious for a coffee themselves or who recognize me, gives me money. Mostly my bowels are trained to act around this time, so if I’m in a cafe I can use the washroom.
This is a solitary life, sort of powerless too. There are not many choices or people I can rely on and each day is just another struggle for survival. One time I slept for months in my car. The worst thing with that was cops coming round and moving you on. I could never manage the rent for rooms on my own, so had a steady stream of people staying over and paying for the night. But some were so gross, and they didn’t take care of my things. They would foul up my washroom, leave cigarette holes in my couch, and be hacking and spitting. Those days are over too.
Warmed by the coffee I set out walking a couple of miles to get to a drop-in inside an old downtown church. If I get there in time, I’ll get breakfast and maybe today the staff will be handing things out like socks and T shirts, mitts and scarves. Yesterday I got a box of crackers and a bottle of water. I only take what I can put on or use right away. I don’t want to be carrying lots of stuff around with me. Same reason I don’t use the food bank. If it were summer, it would be lovely sitting in the park eating and drinking – sharing the crackers with the grey squirrels and Canada geese.
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Our location on the historic Carrying Place Trail (Weston Road) reminds us that we meet on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Petun, Seneca and, most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit. We hope this ancient path will be a symbol of our desire to walk with Indigenous peoples in a spirit of reconciliation and respect.
Central United Church, 1 King Street, Weston, ON M9N 1K8 | Phone: (416) 241-7544