The Green Challenge – Churches Struggle to Improve Energy Efficiency

Several churches in Halton Presbytery have begun to employ green energy initiatives. And while the results can be positive, the conversion process may be long and difficult. Kathy Toivanen, diaconal minister at Erin Mills United Church (EMUC) in Mississauga, said she has “a passion for environmental issues.” Members of the congregation petitioned the city for the right to have the first community garden in Mississauga, and succeeded in paving the way for the zoning to be changed, so it is now possible for anyone in the region to have one. Toivanen and the Green Team organize a fall series of worship services on environmental issues, a green day and an annual earth hour event. Several members of her congregation are on the board of Halton-Peel Greening Sacred Spaces. The Green Team of EMUC conducted an energy audit of the church building and has since installed energy efficient lighting. Future considerations include replacing the existing surface of the parking lot with a … [Read more...]

Don’t Exclude Children From Worship – Children’s Minister Begs

“The more I do it the more I love it,” Deborah Laforet, said about her work with children and youth at St. Paul’s United in Oakville. The minister of Christian Education, Social Justice and Pastoral Care coordinates the Sunday School, leads a junior youth group on Friday nights, runs the confirmation class and various study groups. Laforet has been working with young people all her life—since her father died when she was eight—and she began caring for her three younger siblings in a small town in central Michigan. Having been raised a Catholic, she gained an early interest in intergenerational worship. “In the Catholic Church there was no Sunday School. I learned at an early age to appreciate the prayers, the rhythms and the music of worship.” Her dream is to see all age groups united in church services. “If you exclude children from worship where do they learn to worship? And if you exclude children from worship where do adults learn to worship with children?” She said that … [Read more...]

The Authentic Soul Work of Mardi Tindal

Since leaving her post last summer, former Moderator, Mardi Tindal says she has been “joyfully busy” – writing, facilitating retreats and looking after her new grandchild. Beginning in January, Tindal will begin writing a monthly column entitled “soul work” for the United Church Observer. Each column will introduce a different spiritual practice. She said the magazine editors invited her to do this as they “wanted to do more to address the spiritual needs of the readers.” Tindal’s also delighted to be spending time with her new granddaughter, Matilda. Every Friday, Tindal makes a meal and takes it over to share with her son and his family at the other end of Toronto. She takes the transit, because as a committed environmentalist. She doesn’t own a car and does as much as she can to lessen her carbon footprint. In the past year, Tindal has traveled all over North America leading retreats for Parker Palmer’s Centre for Courage and Renewal. From B,C. to Arizona, and Nova Scotia … [Read more...]

Hamilton Conference M&S Reaches $2.35 Million

Hamilton Conference Mission and Service givings are virtually the same as contributions made at this time last year, thanks to the committed support of our members. As president Keith Reynolds recently noted, M&S givings at the end of last year included two significant gifts that will not be repeated. Our current challenge is to erase the coming shortfall of over $200,000 represented by those gifts through additional individual and congregational gifts equalling $10 for each man, woman and child our congregations. Please take this opportunity to encourage members and congregations to support this vital United Church fund with their crucial and deeply appreciated gifts. Wishing you the blessings and joy of the season! Lisa Di Veto Financial Development Officer The United Church of Canada 78 McBay Road Brantford, Ontario N3T 5L4 Telephone: 519.754.1803 Email:   … [Read more...]

Wellington Square – A Model of a Growing Church

Wellington Square (WS) in Burlington was one of twenty-two Anglican, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran and United churches in southern Ontario, to take part in a year-long study of the characteristics of growing and declining mainline Protestant churches in the Toronto to London corridor. To qualify as a growing church, a congregation had to have consistent growth over the previous ten year period—the last five of those under the same minister. WS fit perfectly into the model of a growing church as outlined by the three professors who conducted the research: David Haskell of Wilfrid Laurier University, Kevin Flatt from Redeemer University College and Stephanie Burgoyne from Laurier Brantford. Haskell presented his findings in Brantford on Nov. 18th. “It was great to find out that we fit the profile of what makes a healthy, growing church,” Rev. Dr. Orville James, the senior minister at WS said. Haskell told the crowd in Brantford that the group’s findings suggest that … [Read more...]

Ryk Brown’s Fresh Approach to Connecting with the People in Our Midst

“This job is shaping up to my best ever,” Rev. Ryk Brown, Halton Presbytery’s new Mission Development Officer (MDO) said. “Strategic leadership thinking is my strength. I want to help congregations get established in their mission. That’s the part I’m ecstatic about.” Brown, a friend of former MDO Rev. Peter Hoyle, assumed his duties at the beginning of November after serving a congregation in Niagara Presbytery. For more than ten years, he was a Presbyterian minister. But Brown’s roots run deep in the United Church. “My great grandfather built Ryerson United Church in Hamilton and I grew up United.” When a scandal rocked his church in London when he was a boy, Brown’s family, along with half the congregation, left and became Presbyterian. But five years ago, Brown realized he wanted to be part of a more open-minded set up. He began the process of switching back to the UC. And he was formally received as a UC minister in 2012. Brown said he realized he had to get away from what … [Read more...]

Hamilton Conference M&S Givings Continue to be Strong  

Today’s Mission and Service reports show Hamilton Conference ahead of contributions made at the same time last year – wonderful news! Our conference’s generous members and congregations have contributed the second highest amount in the country ($1.876 million). continue your vital M&S support as we enter the final weeks of the year. Nationally, donations to date are behind 2012 results so every donation is crucial. Thank you for your committed support! Halton-Presbytery-MS-as-of-October-18-2013 National-Results-as-of-October-18-2013 Lisa Di Veto Financial Development Officer The United Church of Canada 78 McBay Road Brantford, Ontario N3T 5L4 Telephone: 519.754.1803 Email: … [Read more...]

A Quest for the Human Face of Jesus

“My ministry has been about watching the church die,” Rev. Dr. David Galston, director of the Quest Learning Centre in Hamilton said. “The great struggle is to figure out what’s going to be born.” The Winnipeg native has been through many incarnations as a United Church minister. Galston realized after a few years in a small town near the Manitoba border, that he wanted more than just a regular congregational ministry. He went to McGill to study the Philosophy of Religion—eventually ending up with a PhD. As he was studying, Galston went through a radical transformation. “Rhetorical criticism applied to the parables woke me up out of my slumber and led me to a life-centered theology. I began to study world religions and saw that a fair number of them stress presence and peace and life. And it’s right there in the parables.” Galston began to look at Jesus differently. “Look at how Jesus lived—what he said—what he did. He’s a fascinating guy. The divinity often gets in the way of … [Read more...]