Round the Table

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

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

I am writing from midway through my sabbatical. It’s my first ever experience of a sabbatical, and a wonderful experience. It’s wonderful, but also slightly disorienting.

Right now I am sitting in the front room upstairs at our cottage, (my past and future home). There is a strong wind off the lake and a bit of fresh snow outside but inside all is peaceful. The dogs are stretched out on the floor next to me, sound asleep.

Flexibility is one of the great things about sabbatical time: being able to work from different locations; being able to do the drive on days with good...

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September 5, 2019

In his final year at seminary at The United Theological College in Montreal, Isaac Mundy worked on a special project that looked at the pastoral dimensions of social media and how it can be used for pastoral care.

When he started working as Minister of Youth, Young Adults and Families at Siloam United Church in London, Ontario, Mundy kept exploring social media’s outreach, as he launched a Siloam Twitter account, a...

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September 5, 2019

Connecting to young adults is a problem for churches across the land. Brenda Timpson, minister at College Hill United Church in Belleville, Ontario, may have found the answer: invite them to a cooking class.

“Everybody has to eat,” says Timpson. “These classes have proven to be very successful in reaching an age group that is traditionally very difficult for churches to reach out to.”

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September 5, 2019

Ministry at Emmanuel United Church in Ottawa doesn’t just stay inside the church walls — it regularly extends to Africa, Central America, and beyond.

“Pilgrimages are really embraced at Emmanuel,” says Jeannie Page, a licensed lay worship leader and Chair of the church’s Global Partners Committee. “The congregation has a long history of being the...

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September 5, 2019

Attendance at a Friday afternoon Muslim prayer service at the General Council Office (GCO) almost doubled last week, thanks to the presence of about two dozen GCO staff members and guests. They were there to show solidarity, following the mass shooting at the Centre Culture Islamique de Québec in late January.

The Muslim prayer group meets in the GCO chapel each week. Prayer group leader Mohamed Osman thanked the visitors for coming, noting that he is grateful that Canadians from coast to coast have been reaching out to their Muslim neighbours after the deadly shootings in the...

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September 5, 2019

Moderator Jordan Cantwell is halfway through her three-year term in office. She has a very ambitious plan for what she hopes to accomplish in her remaining 18 months in office, as she explains in this interview with Paul Russell.

Paul: 2016 was a busy period in the church’s life. How did you feel at the end of it?

Jordan: I was utterly exhausted at the end of last year. When the General Council Executive meeting at the end of November was done, I was done.

Paul: How did you re-energize?

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September 5, 2019

Somewhere in The United Church of Canada’s General Council Office (GCO) in Toronto lies a piece of the Berlin Wall.

That important piece of mortar is mentioned in two undated documents, both stating it was once shown in a display case near the reception desk. The Wall remnant was presented as a covenanting gift from the German-based Evangelical Church of the Union in 1992. While the chalice, paten, and pyx (goblet, plate, and container for consecrated bread) that were also presented as covenanting gifts are still on display, the Berlin Wall fragment is nowhere to be seen.

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September 5, 2019

My name is Rachel Hearn and I was a camp counsellor at Welcome Friend’s Rainbow Camp for LGBTQ and Allied Youth ages 12-17 from 2013-2015. To say the least, it was a life-altering experience.

My studies in the Sexual Diversity Studies program at University of Toronto introduced me to Queer Theory which critiques all things oppressively normal. It resists the powerful institutions and social forces that try to fit us into a tiny box called “normal’...

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September 5, 2019

Last week I published a blog, 5 Reasons the Church May Not Find a Way Ahead. This blog is the counterpoint.

First, a couple of preliminary clarifications.

When using the word “church” I do not mean the abstract theological concept of wherever there are people who try and follow the Way of Jesus there is church. While I believe that is true I have in mind some version of a more mainline oriented church, like The United Church of Canada, who hold some centre like the Basis of Union and...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

On the wet, West Coast of Canada, where I live and work, we have grown accustomed to the decline of the mainline church, particularly The United Church of Canada. We now whine very little about the unfair playing field of a consumer society, soccer on Sundays or undisciplined Christians.

The sod has settled over the grave of Christendom. The church and its leaders no longer carry the clout that existed when many current leaders were in their youth.

Camps and congregational properties are being liquidated, often with deep and profound grief. Leaders attempt to re-allocate...