Gord Dunbar Says a Holy Shift will be Good for the United Church

Rev. Gord Dunbar is telling United Church congregations that, “It’s time for a Holy Shift. Structures and procedures are not the way—relationships are.” “Holy shift” was the motto of Dunbar’s just completed two year term as president of the United Church’s Hamilton Conference, made up of six presbyteries, and stretching from Tobermory to Niagara Falls and from Mississauga to the North Shore of Lake Erie as far as Courtland. In Dunbar’s Conference logo, the Y in Holy was replaced by a descending dove, one of the emblems in the United church crest. A creative and open-minded thinker, Dunbar has always taken an innovative approach to the ministry he began as a student twenty-four years ago. Since ordination, he has served two congregations—Morefield-Rothsay, just north of Drayton and Port Nelson in Burlington. An easy-going temperament and a ready sense of humour have helped Dunbar cope with the pressures of impending church closures and amalgamations. “There’s been a lot of … [Read more...]

The Educational and Inspirational Preaching of Orville James

“Preaching the Sunday sermon is the most impactful thing any minister will do in a given week,” Rev. Dr. Orville James, the minister of Wellington Square United Church in Burlington, said. “If you can deliver the goods on Sunday morning, even if you’re a mediocre organizer, it can make a tremendous difference.” James’ thesis for his D. Min. in Homiletics at Princeton focused on communicating effectively to people in different stages of faith, based on James Fowler’s 1981 book, Stages of Faith, which outlines six stages to spiritual maturity. “Most people in the United Church are at stage four,” he said, “the Individuative-Reflective stage where they no longer blindly accept what those in authority tell them. They need to work things out in their own minds and examine how it applies to them. There are people with a high level of education in the United Church—with scientific and literary knowledge. They can interpret the Christian stories on a level of meaning that goes beyond the … [Read more...]

East Burlington Seniors’ Lunch a Truly Ecumenical Effort

While many churches in the Halton region have collaborated to host lunches for seniors, the East Burlington Seniors’ Lunch has become by far the most ecumenical. “That’s why I decided to volunteer,” Kathy Pringle, the current chairperson, said. “The ecumenical nature of the group really appealed to me.” Three years ago, Rev. Jean Archbell, then the rector of St. Elizabeth’s Anglican Church in Burlington, decided to replicate the Out-4-Lunch program operating out of St. Matthew On-The-Plains Anglican in Aldershot. While the Aldershot seniors’ lunch planning team featured a combined team of United, Catholic and Anglican volunteers, the East Burlington added Baptists and the Lutherans. When she was planning the event, Archbell contacted the minister of virtually every Christian Church in south east Burlington—from Walkers Line in the west to Burloak and from Lake Ontario up to Upper Middle Road. The response was amazing. “From its inception we had volunteers from five churches … [Read more...]

Six Nations Seek Partnerships Based on Relationships and Trust

Mohawk, Phil Monture, has made it his life’s work to make the governments of Ontario and Canada accountable for the misuse and appropriation of the lands allocated to the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) according to the 1784 Haldimand Treaty. Although the group was awarded 950,000 acres of land (six miles wide on each side of the Grand River) as a reward for defending the northern territories during the American Revolution, the 28,000 surviving band members only control 46,000 acres (less than 5% of the original amount) near Brantford. Monture said, at an insightful talk at Port Nelson United Church, in Burlington, on April 26th, that he doesn’t expect the government to remove “the squatters” or “the innocent bystanders” from the land that’s not rightfully theirs, in communities such as Brantford, Kitchener/Waterloo and Cambridge—but Six Nations does expect to “receive justice” for the losses. “The government always tells us we’re entitled to … [Read more...]

Michael Coren Says Christians Must Love Everyone Unconditionally

  “Some of the finest Christians I’ve ever met are gay,” Michael Coren told the crowd at Applewood United’s third anniversary of becoming an affirming congregation, on April 2nd. Coren, the award-winning author, journalist, radio and television personality, who once stood strongly against gay marriage because of his traditional Catholic beliefs, is now on the lecture circuit convincing Christians to show compassion to the LGBTQ community. It has been a long journey for the journalist, whose Jewish father scorned religion of any kind, and raised him in a tough guy neighbourhood to be a stereotypical male. Coren came to the Christian faith, and later to an acceptance of non traditional lifestyles, through a lengthy period of soul searching. Coren said it was the situation in Uganda that caused his change of heart. When he realized that people were being condemned to death simply because of their sexual orientation, he knew he had to stand up against it. And then he wrote … [Read more...]

West Plains United Church Reaches out to Those in Need

West Plains United Church, situated on the border between Hamilton and Burlington, is keenly positioned for outreach.  However, in recent years the needs of the people stopping by were too great and the church wasn't able to respond to everyone's requests for help. “We had to start directing people to the Compassionate Society,” West Plain’s United Church Women’s association (UCW) President, Linda Sanderson, said, “and we give them a $200 donation per month”. The registered charity, located behind the Bingo Connection at 484 Plains Road East in Burlington, is also supported by two other Burlington-based United Churches—East Plains and Wellington Square. The organization distributes used clothing, food and everyday household items on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons to those in need. Sanderson, a former Ontario welfare worker, knows a lot about social services. She applies her expertise to design, organize and volunteer for charitable projects. The church also host … [Read more...]

Trinity United’s Youth Reach Out to the Community

When a young girl was injured in a bus accident last November, Trinity United’s Children and Youth Ministry Developer, Abigail Ramirez, decided she had to do something to help. “I was on site before the ambulance arrived,” she said, “I assisted in comforting the girl, making sure to stay present until the ambulance arrived and someone had contacted the family.” It turned out the injured girl, attended Ramirez’s daughter’s school. Unfortunately, she ended up losing mobility to her legs due to the incident and the family was left with lots of bills to pay. Ramirez decided to have her youth group host a pancake dinner to raise funds. The whole Oakville congregation became involved, donating pancake mix, maple syrup, berries and pineapple, candy toppings and juice boxes. The dinner was scheduled near the beginning of Lent, like a regular pancake Tuesday celebration, except that the dinner took place right after a regular Sunday service in late February. The youth group did the cooking, … [Read more...]

Syrian Refugee Finds a Home at Port Nelson United Church

Since Hamza Raslan’s arrival in Canada from Syria, in December of 2015, Port Nelson United Church in Burlington has worked hard to make him feel welcome. The twenty-year-old has been blessed with housing, language classes and support on every level. “I love this church,” Hamza said, about his sponsoring agency. The Syrian refugee said he is especially grateful for the kindness of Port Nelson’s members after the terrible ordeal he experienced in his teenage years. He was forced to leave home at fourteen, after his older brother was abducted, and his parents feared the same thing might happen to him. He had to abandon his education and work as a baker for four years in Jordan. His home city, Homs, was decimated and his parents and three of his sisters went to live with relatives in the Syrian countryside. Hamza hopes someday to sponsor them to come to Canada—but it would cost upwards of $40,000. None of the family members have heard from Hamza’s brother since the day he disappeared. … [Read more...]