Round the Table

Sharing stories of life, faith, and ministry in the United Church and beyond.

Last updated: 
March 21, 2018

Last summer, I spent three memorable hours in prison. I had not been arrested.

That July morning, colleagues from one of our partners, the KARAPATAN alliance in the Philippines, picked me up at my hotel for a two-hour drive out of Quezon city. With our Mission and Service partners the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the United Church has long been engaged in human rights advocacy in the country and in mitigating the...

Last updated: 
March 20, 2018

I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Ke’dar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! – Song of Solomon 1:5–6

When I read the Song of Solomon, my senses come alive. What an incredible kaleidoscope of rich and evocative imagery. In this passage, I love the reference to ebony colouring and the beauty of dark skin. Given the part of the world that they lived in, it only...

Last updated: 
March 15, 2018

Earth Hour—Saturday, March 24, 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.—marks its 12th edition this March.

I remember that first gathering in a darkened Church of the Holy Trinity next to the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. We lit candles, we read scriptures and other readings, we signed a pledge to take personal actions to mitigate climate change. KAIROS staff contacted the media and we even got a story in the paper along with photos of darkened landmarks.

Earth Hour is a movement that shines a light on climate action. This movement is supported by the World Wildlife Fund. As...

Last updated: 
March 8, 2018

A review of Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders Who Will Change the World, Dori Grinenko Baker, Editor (The Alban Institute: Herndon, VA, 2010, 212 pages).

I recommend this book to everyone! Ministers, congregation members, those who are spiritual but not connected to a faith community, everyone! Six different people consider and reflect on six different churches that in various ways have created...

Last updated: 
March 7, 2018

During this upcoming year, as major changes to our church structure are under consideration, many of us will be planning worship services for people who are dealing with and working through the complex feelings involved with change: the grief, loss, and sadness in saying goodbye to the courts of the church as we have known them; the hope, anxiety, and anticipation for the emergent structure; and the ever-present complexity of feelings that come with being a part of any community.

As worship leaders, we attempt to create liturgies that meet people where they are, which is hard to...

Last updated: 
March 2, 2018
It was a rare privilege to travel to Zambia in February 2018 for a Mission & Service–sponsored partners’ meeting dubbed “the Indaba” (Zulu for consultation or gathering). For the first time, the Indaba brought together 15 African partners and one Asian partner who have each related to The United Church of Canada, but who did not necessarily have relationships with each other. 
The gathering offered a safe space for partners in the region to meet their neighbours. The group used stories, group activities and conversations, and case studies and presentations...
Last updated: 
February 26, 2018

I was wondering if you might be available to write a Bible study for Black History Month?

“There’s no way I can do this,” was my first thought when asked by those at the United Church General Council Office to contribute a Bible study for Black History Month. Me, a White guy, from England?

What do I know about Black History? I ought to be taking a course, not writing a resource. And even if I did, this is the sort of thing that I hear bitter jokes about — a White person posing as an expert on another culture. I don’t want those jokes being made about me!


Last updated: 
February 26, 2018

Why did I write a worship service and sermon for Black History Month? It’s a difficult question to answer. I was filled with excitement and dread at the prospect. I was excited because the topic of race and identity is volatile at the moment (well, really, when hasn’t it been?) and the opportunity to speak the truth as I understand it to groups of spiritually open Christians seemed to hold a great deal of potential. The dread comes from the responses of fear, anger, and miseducation that can shut me down so easily. But I believe deeply that White people need to take ownership of racism and...

Last updated: 
February 16, 2018

Full disclosure. I am a Black man. I was born in Jamaica and I am an immigrant to Canada. Having served as an ordained minister of The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, I am now an ordained minister of The United Church of Canada. I wanted to say this upfront so that you can understand the context from which I speak. Let me be also very clear that when I speak about immigration I am speaking specifically and only about those persons who are lawful and legal immigrants to a country.

Like so many, I listened with concern and deep distress recently to the comments...

Last updated: 
February 12, 2018

The Healing Fund has the privilege of supporting many worthwhile projects focusing on language revitalization, cultural restoration, and healing initiatives in Indigenous communities across Canada. I was excited to visit a project in Toronto by the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. Council Fire’s project is called “Naandwidizwin Wechihitita” Healing Ourselves – Helping Each Other and it focuses on the immediate and long-term healing needs of Residential School Survivors...