October 4th is the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (MMIWG2S+). This is a day for action and advocacy, and to remember the lives of victims and survivors and the many communities who have been impacted by violence. The Eastern Synod Circle for Reconciliation and Justice (ES-CRJ) invites you to consider how you can be an ally and an advocate by using some of the resources listed here.Read more →
Phyllis Jack Webstad was six years old when she left her community of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation to attend St. Joseph Residential School. Like most six year olds, she was excited to attend school for the first time. Her grandmother bought her a new, bright orange shirt for her to wear on her first day. When she arrived at school, far from home, her new orange shirt was taken away from her and never returned. This marked the start of Phyllis’s separation from her community, culture, family and friends; a separation mandated by the federal government and supported by the church.
On September 30th, we wear orange to remember that Every Child Matters and as people of faith, we need to listen to stories like Phyllis’s and learn from the wisdom, reflection, trauma, as well as the strength and resiliency of those who were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools, some of whom never returned home again. As Christians, it is also our responsibility to make reparations for the ways in which we continue to uphold colonialism and benefit from the systemic racism in our institutions and societal structures. September 30th is a federal statutory holiday – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, where people are encouraged to engage in learning, as well as listening and reflecting on the ongoing impact of the residential school system.
As September 30th approaches, here are some opportunities to consider:
- mark Orange Shirt Day in worship in your congregation on Sunday, September 25th by wearing orange and encouraging others to wear orange as well. Rebekah Ludolph has put together some worship resources based on the Season of Creation. (see attached). We are grateful to Rebekah for sharing this resource with the Synod.
- The United Church of Canada has also shared some worship resources.
- The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has an entire weeklong series of online events being offered for youth and adults alike. These events run from September 26-30th
- I Lost My Talk – Robyn Michaud, M.Ed (Anishinaabe Kwe Lecturer and Ed.D student) shares this well-known poem by Rita Joe and accompanying ideas and activities for children.
- to purchase a copy of the book, Phyllis’s Orange Shirt, click here.
- to purchase a copy of Phyllis Webstad’s new book, With Our Orange Hearts, click here.
- to purchase an orange shirt from an approved retailer, click here
- Medicine Wheel Education offers authentic Indigenous educational tools and resources.
- Starting September 22 – educational programming at the Woodland Cultural Centre.
- September 14-30 – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, 2022 at the University of Waterloo Office of Indigenous Relations.
- September 25-30 – Week of reflective and learning opportunities through the United Church of Canada, including worship ideas and online events.
- September 26-30 – Beyond the Orange Shirt Story – Niagara Falls, a series of events in the Niagara area.
- September 30 – Honouring Our Children Pow Wow, Mohawk Village Memorial Park. 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford, at 12 pm. This event is to commemorate an honour Residential School Survivors. Please wear orange.
- September 30 – Every Child Matters Walk, Kitchener, Healing of the 7 Generations. 10 am. Meet at 300 Frederick St and walk to Victoria Park Clock Tower.
- September 30 – 2nd Annual Truth and Reconciliation Day gathering, 10 am – 12 pm, Pijinuiskaq Park (King St., Bridgewater, NS).
- September 30 – Truth and Reconciliation Day, 1 pm; Hank Snow Museum Grounds, 148 Bristol Ave, Liverpool NS (see poster).
- October 1 – Treaty Day Mawio’mi, 12 pm; Hank Snow Museum 148 Bristol Ave, Liverpool, NS (see poster).
May God’s wisdom and understanding surround us as we continue to learn to walk in the ways of reconciliation, reparation and peace.
Abundant fall blessings to you,
The Eastern Synod Circle for Reconciliation and Justice
Over 85 years ago, Finnish immigrants to Timmins and first generation families gathered to formalize St. John’s Lutheran as a faith community. Over the decades, the church was a bustling center of activity as each Sunday they gathered for worship, taught the children about their faith, held language classes in both English and Finnish, hosted many suppers, provided pulla bread for the community and were involved in outreach to the local hospital and other areas of need. They were energetic in sharing their culture with the wider community around them and were willing to be part of cultural events in the city of Timmins.
The list of Finnish Pastors who served that community were many and they all brought their own character and vocational commitment. They led the congregation faithfully and with true zeal for Christ. However, following the trend of many church congregations, attendance eventually started to decline. Families got older, some moved away and other members reached the fullness of their time on earth. An amalgamation with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Timmins brought new energy to the community in South Porcupine and for a period, the congregation was once again busy with community ministry.
In 2013, the congregation discerned that a full time pastor was no longer financially viable for them and so in 2014 they moved to part-time ministry as provided by an Anglican priest, the Rev. Patricia Dorland. They continued to meet and worship weekly and Finnish Pastors sponsored by the Suomi Conference and the Eastern Synod came throughout the year, offering Finnish language worship services and pastoral visiting as possible. This was greatly appreciated by the congregation, as worshipping in their language of the heart was very important.
Finally in 2019 it was decided that maintaining the building was no longer possible for the congregation and the process began to put the building up for sale. In June of 2020, the building was sold to Access Better Living (ABL). Since taking possession of the property, ABL has worked very hard to repurpose the space in order to provide three programs for their clients; The Respite Care program, the Adult Summit program, and the recently renamed Jr. Summit program (formerly Extend-A-Family). The two stained glass windows that were given in memory of congregational members were kept in place and are a beautiful focus for spiritual calm. A large mural, painted by the Porcupine Art Club, is a pastoral scene of mountains. This image is a visual affirming of the Center’s programming goal for their clients. This is ABL’s explanation for calling the new Centre, the Summit. “Life is all about learning. We are always learning new things, and facing new challenges. Here at The Summit, we encourage you to be a mountain climber, to set a goal and work hard to achieve it! You are unique and can do great things!” The opening of the Centre was on April 30th and in attending that celebration, it is very clear that The Summit is a wonderful re-imagining of the use of the building. Sometimes it is difficult to picture what we cannot see; to envision how God works in the community where we live. Change is difficult if we are afraid, if we do not trust God’s plan for his people and if our faith falters. We give thanks for The Summit and pray that all who enter will continue to receive the peace of Christ. God can do infinitely more than we could image. We could not have pictured this vision, but we believe God was at work!
At our recent congregational meeting it was decided that to be good stewards of the legacy left to us in the form of proceeds from the sale of the building, some funds could be used to support other ministries doing God’s work in the world. Therefore, the congregation approved donations to the local hospital children’s healthcare, the local food bank, a group that provides hot meals to those needing nourishment, The Eastern Synod general ministry fund, and a donation to Lutheran World Relief. We are very thankful to all the saints of St. John’s Lutheran who have gone before us and who had entrusted to our care their time, skills and resources. We hope that we have been faithful to God and to them.
St. John’s Lutheran Church congregation continues and is worshipping each Sunday at Kulta Koti, a senior’s residence, in a space that proves easy access and a whole new community to reach out to. We continue to be a faithful people who follow Christ. We continue to gather to praise, pray and listen to Holy Scripture. We come to Christ’s Table as people who have been saved by grace! Thanks be to God.
It all began with an idea at a Sunday morning coffee hour chat.
A few members of Zion Philipsburg Lutheran Church’s worship and music committee were discussing ways to reach out to lonely seniors in area retirement and long-term care homes during the second pandemic lockdown of 2021 last spring.
Given the need to change how congregations could still connect with each other, even in lockdown, required thinking outside of the box.
A simple card could let folks know that people were thinking about them, praying for them and sending their love, according to Pastor Leanne Darlington, Zion’s pastor.
“In reaching out to our members in long-term care by phone, I could hear and feel the loneliness in their voices. They needed to know that they have not been forgotten in all that was going on in our world, ” Darlington said.
And so the women set to work.
Facebook posts on the Wilmot Community page and the church’s Facebook page, as well as a church email, invited people to start by making cards for the residents of Nithview Home in New Hamburg, where some of the church’s members live.
Two online card-making evenings were held where the public was invited to join in learning how to make pop-up cards.
And the cards and even hand-drawn artwork by children started rolling in.
Generous donations were left in a porch drop-off box at the New Hamburg home of Zion member Susan Mills, as well as the storage box at the church – some 13 kilometres west of Waterloo – which was set up so members could pick up monthly newsletters and copies of sermons when the pandemic first hit.
A prayer for the residents to pray each day speaking of God’s love and presence in times of struggle, written by Darlington, was included in each card, along with words of hope and inspiration written by church and community members.
The prayer read:
“A prayer for you from your friends at Zion Lutheran Church Philipsburg.
Loving and Gracious God.
You are the Good Shepherd who cares for us day and night.
These pandemic times have been lonely and long.
We miss seeing our families and friends.
But in you O God, we know that we are never alone.
Help us to feel your presence and love in our hearts and keep us in your tender care.
An article on the project was published in the May 5 edition of The Wilmot Post, encouraging further donations from the community. The group’s initial goal of 180 cards for Nithview Retirement Home was easily surpassed and the project was extended to provide cards to other area nursing homes in Tavistock, Stratford, Listowel and Mitchell.
Other recipients included migrant workers at Pfenning’s Organic Farm in New Hamburg, whose hard work each season to provide food and students in the Philipsburg congregation who’d finished a difficult year of online learning due to the pandemic.
A Waterloo Vacation Bible School in Waterloo also featured the Philipsburg church’s pop-up card instructions in its week of online studies in the summer.
This is a summary of the 586 cards that were distributed by July 2021:
- 80 cards for Nithview retirement residents
- 100 cards for Nithview Long Term Care residents
- 70 cards for the residents of The Maples in Tavistock
- 85 cards for the residents of Greenwood Court apartments in Stratford
- 48 cards for the residents of Ritz Lutheran Villa in Mitchell
- 48 cards for the residents of Caressant Care in Listowel
- 28 cards for the youth at Zion Philipsburg
- 80 cards of encouragement to House of Friendship’s Charles Street Shelter, after a fire at Waterloo Inn where they were living.
Since then, members of Zion have continued their card-making efforts, sending some 130 Christmas cards to all long-term residents of Nithview Home in New Hamburg.
Another 125 were sent to Clair Hills Retirement Home in Waterloo, thanks to the efforts of fellow card makers Donna and Vivian Hodgin and their neighbour Nancy Crewson of Baden. The cards were set on each resident’s Christmas dinner plate when they sat down for their evening meal.
Another 100 cards were delivered to residents in long-term care in Riverbend Place in Cambridge. And 90 cards of Christmas cheer were sent to Greenwood Court in Stratford. That’s an additional 445 cards. Nearly 1,000 cards weresent out this past year.
The church is continuing to collect used calendars and greeting cards from the community for their next batch of card deliveries.
The Philipsburg card-makers encourage other churches – big or small – to take up similar efforts, saying that it is a great way to reach out to their communities and beyond, upcycle in the process and make complete strangers feel loved.
Mills summed it all up by thanking the community for its efforts.
“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this project by making homemade cards filled with messages of hope, caring and love, as well as those who donated cards and card supplies, coloured pages for the fronts of cards, attached prayers to the cards, delivered cards, and everyone who supported this project in any way,” she said. “Your efforts have made a positive impact in our community. Well done!“
Grace to you and peace,
With the arrival of warmer weather, many congregations are actively planning for a fulsome schedule of summer activities and events. Some of these cherished programs haven’t occurred since 2019. There is a palpable sense of excitement and renewed energy across our Synod! Thanks be to God!
It seems timely, therefore, to provide an update regarding our suggested best practices intended to ensure a safe and meaningful experience for all.
- While we no longer ‘require’ the wearing of masks, we remain strongly supporting of their continued use.
- In keeping with current provincial regulations, physical distancing is no longer required.
- We encourage you to resume the distribution of wine by way of individual cups. Distribution by intinction or common cup remains discouraged. We highly suggest that the rostered leader continue to wear a mask while presiding at the table to prevent droplets from spreading to the bread and wine.
- Indoor and Outdoor social gatherings are permitted, where public health directives regarding the serving of food are followed. Please consult with your local public health unit for the directives in your area.
- Children’s and Youth programming, such as Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Youth Group may resume.
My guidance to our synodical community is for good and careful decision making at the local level. There is no one-size-fits-all model, and you are best positioned to gauge the readiness of your community to resume in-person activities and events. And remember, that the rate at which people feel comfortable resuming in-person events may be slower than we hoped. That is OK! I remain grateful for the faithfulness with which you engage the process of due diligence! Thank you for showing love to your congregation and community through these careful actions.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, or to my colleagues in the office. We are always happy to help.
May God bless you in your planning and preparations!
Bishop Pryse is delighted to announce that the Eastern Synod Officers have issued a Call to Specialized Ministry to the Rev. Jennifer Hoover to serve as our next Congregational Redevelopment Advisor. Pastor Jennifer has provided pastoral leadership in two congregational redevelopment efforts that have been supported by the work of the Eastern Synod; at St. Paul, Bridgeport and Bethany, Woodstock. She is passionate about the work of congregational renewal and redevelopment and is excited to join our Congregational Redevelopment Services team!
In accepting this position, Pastor Jennifer remarked, “The moments of surprising discovery-when church leaders and community partners gather together around the table to imagine the possibilities for a particular ministry or service, space or property-these moments have been the highlight of my ministry. Our redevelopment projects may begin as a quest for financial viability and sustainability for our congregations, but both the church and the community are transformed in the process. I’m so excited to begin my new role as Congregational Redevelopment Advisor and to help congregations engage in the vital and hopeful work of renewing the church in a way that honours both the devotion of our forebears and the imagination of our children.”
Pastor Hoover succeeds Rev. Dr. Mark Harris who will conclude his term of service on June 30, 2022. I am grateful to Mark for the exceptional leadership he has provided and his willingness to support Pastor Jennifer as she transitions into this role.
If you are ready to explore your options, get in touch with Jennifer Hoover firstname.lastname@example.org