Round the Table

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

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

Congregations undoubtedly do amazing work. We have health services, food banks, children’s programming, leadership development, summer camps, long term care facilities, and programming to support every subsector of society with almost any challenge (not to mention supporting our communities with spiritual grounding, emotional support, and connection).

If we were for-profits with these fantastic results, we would be shouting...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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...

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September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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,...

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September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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: 
September 5, 2019

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.