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December 13, 2018

My earliest church memories are tethered to St. James-Bond United Church in Toronto. (Of course, we called it “Bond…St. James Bond, United Church,” with a Sean Connery burr.) I won’t elaborate with tales of basketball courts and bowling alleys, wonderful ministers, witty musicians, finger sandwiches, ukuleles, and poster paint because you likely have similar memories of a church with a slightly less cool name. These days, when I travel along Avenue Road, I see condos where there was once a church. And I feel a little sentimental tug—a nostalgia that I can often confuse with sadness....

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August 3, 2018

On Friday, July 27 as I sat in the General Council meeting, a flood of emotions, thoughts, and reactions washed over me. I had no idea that the plenary would have taken the direction it took. I listened and heard the stories, some of which I had heard before and some which were new to me. I said to myself, “Now I will be blamed for being the reason which led to the derailing of the meeting.”

In many ways the 43rd General Council stopped, it did not end. It stopped because we had...

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June 11, 2018

I had the amazing privilege (no pun intended) of attending the White Privilege Conference Global in May, held for the first time in Canada. (It has been held in the U.S. for the past 19 years). It was an amazing event, and I was delighted that other than school boards, The United Church of Canada seemed to have the largest delegation! We were all able to attend workshops in the morning, and two keynote speakers per day, as well as the entertainment that augmented the experience.

The idea of intersectionality was presented in a myriad of ways, including the intersections of race and...

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June 8, 2018

We are not alone.

I remember the day that these words took on new meaning for me.

I was on an almost empty subway, in the middle of the day, when an easily identifiable White supremacist got on the train. He was carpenter with a hammer hanging from his utility belt, a body inked with hateful symbols, and a toolbox full of threatening things. As soon as he got on the train, I started to plan my exit. I’ll get off at the next stop…but so will he (it was the terminal). I’ll stay on the train, but so might he. I’ll press the emergency strip, but then we...

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June 8, 2018

I was invited to the May 9–12 White Privilege Conference at Ryerson University, Toronto, by Springwater Hester-Meawassige, Youth Leadership Coordinator for the Aboriginal Ministry Circle of the United Church. She invited me because of my participation in other United Church youth events, including Wampum Camp, and my experience attending the Truth and Reconciliation Closing Ceremonies and March in Ottawa as a witness.

This conference was an eye-opening event. Throughout the four days, I met many new people and had the...

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April 20, 2018

It was one of those mornings where I had 30 minutes of stuff to do before I left home, but only five minutes to get into the car and get to the office. I stopped to look at my phone and there it was an email from the General Secretary. My first thoughts were, “What have I done now?” The email was an invitation to be part of a United Church of Canada delegation to a National Council of Churches (USA) event to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr...

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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!


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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...

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February 7, 2018

This reflection is offered by the All My Relations Network of Saskatchewan Conference on their website. AMRN is made up of Indigenous people, newcomers, and settlers of all backgrounds and nations. For over 10 years it has been one expression of the church’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action. This...

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March 1, 2018

I am a racist – a recovering racist. My workplace has helped me open my heart and mind to how racism shaped me. As editor of the At the Heart of Justice blog, I was pleased to uplift the theme of racial justice. What I came to understand was that my pleasure reflected my White privilege — I could choose to focus on this issue.

Over the years I’ve worked with racialized staff. Our working relationships were sometimes difficult because of different perspectives and cultural norms. But I also came to recognize my racism — the belief that my way, or...