Round the Table

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

Last updated: 
December 12, 2016

Art has always played an important part in churches throughout the ages, ranging from simple sculptures to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Rev. Jim Keenan of Bradford United Church in Bradford, Ontario, recognizes the important intersections between art and religion. “A healthy arts community is integral to the spiritual and overall health of the community and the overall well-being of its residents,” he says.

Since there is a shortage of performance and...

Last updated: 
December 8, 2016

For one evening every month, Grace United Church in Hanover, Ontario, is filled with the sounds of group drumming. Leading the session is the Rev. Micol Cottrell, who has led similar groups at two other United Churches in the last five years.

For Cottrell, Drum Circle Worship is much more than just making music.

“Drumming really engages people, as it helps them open up and connect with each other,” he said. “It’s quite an amazing,...

Last updated: 
December 7, 2016

One of my all-time favourite compositions is Edward Elgar’s Op. 36 (popularly known as Enigma Variations). This piece is a love story where each movement is a tribute to one of Elgar’s friends. It is complex, playful, and heartfelt; it rouses my heart, my memory, and my imagination all at the same time. Starting when I was 14, my high-school concert band played an arrangement of the adagio movement, “Nimrod,” all the time as a warm-up piece. Eventually, the constant repetition started to dampen my enthusiasm and love for the music...

Last updated: 
March 1, 2018

Canada became my home at the age of five. I entered the Canadian education system as a kindergarten student. Although I felt some racial tension throughout elementary school, it was not until I reached high school that racism became bluntly obvious. Upon my acceptance into high school I was immediately placed into general level courses. This meant that I would be prepared to go to college but not university. This practice is called “tracking.” 

“Tracking” (sometimes called ‘streaming’) is a process of designating students for separate educational paths based on their academic...

Last updated: 
December 5, 2016

Moderator Jordan Cantwell had a busy November. It started with her keynote address at an LBGT conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. She then “chilled” at a youth forum in British Columbia, before heading back to Toronto to take part in difficult discussions during a two-day meeting of the Executive of the General Council. She discussed the importance of these three events with Paul Russell.

Paul: In early November, you were a keynote speaker at Amplify 16, a lesbian, gay, bisexual,...

Last updated: 
November 28, 2016

General Secretary Nora Sanders on the racist graffiti attacks in Ottawa. Even when acts of fear and hatred are in the news, we must keep our Christian values.

Last updated: 
November 29, 2016

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night…

As we enter into Advent, we bring to mind the birth of Christ and the mystery of the Incarnation. It’s a time when we become a little more awe-filled with the chaotic, gracious business that is Emmanuel – God-with-us.

When I read over the nativity account from Luke’s Gospel, I’m struck by the proclamation of good news of great joy for all the people. A messenger of God brings the good news of Jesus’ birth to a group of socially-outcast “public sinners”:...

Last updated: 
March 1, 2018

We stood in the hallway of a retreat centre and listened to our instructions. The animator would read us a question. If our answer was yes, we were to take a step forward. If our answer was no, we were to stay where we were.

The animator told us to move forward if this statement was true for us. “When I learn about our Canadian heritage or about ‘civilization’, I am shown that people of my colour made it what it is.”  I stepped forward.

She read: “I can do well in a challenging position without being called ‘a credit to my race’.”  I winced and stepped forward.


Last updated: 
November 18, 2016

I have had a long love affair with Leonard Cohen, or rather, with his words. I furiously read his poems in university; I saw him in concert in 1970, when he came to play in a small indoor hockey rink in Kingston, Ontario; I learned to play “Suzanne” on my guitar, and channelled Cohen’s angst-filled love. I was envious of his time in the Greek Islands, and was determined to do the same, even to the point of taking a year’s worth of evening classes in conversational Greek – but alas, my visit only lasted a couple of months. Just a couple of years ago my spouse got us tickets for Leonard’s...

Last updated: 
March 1, 2018

That our United Church of Canada is undergoing change goes without saying. As generational and demographic experiences of church have shifted, the church has been exploring many matters which centre on diversity and inclusivity.