Round the Table

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

Last updated: 
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...

Last updated: 
December 19, 2016

If you are part of a group working to improve the social good of your community — or if you have skills or experience that could help such a group grow and expand — the Social Mentor Network wants to hear from you.

The network is a joint project between the...

Last updated: 
December 15, 2016

It’s Advent, a time of preparation.

With the lives we lead, juggling various responsibilities, are any of us ever just preparing for one thing?

If you saw my office right now, you would think that I am preparing for a big move. And you would be right. We are moving ahead with a plan to condense two-and-a-half floors of offices onto one floor by September. We will all be working in an open-space environment then, and there will be no place for the many pictures, books, and mementoes that currently cram my office. I think it is a good plan, because it will save the church a...

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.

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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”:...

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