Glen Rhodes then, now and in the future.
In an effort to make our church history come alive, we are going to present a series of snapshots of the history we share with our forebears in tabloid format. Here comes the first report now!
Dateline: Pentecost, year 30, Jerusalem
Headline: “Followers of Jesus Full of Wind”
Crowds of tourists, in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost, witnessed an astonishing sight yesterday, a simple fishermen spoke to them in their native languages. “We were sitting together in this Upper Room,” one disciple said, “when suddenly there was this tremendous roaring sound of wind. After the wind, it seemed as if tongues of flame settled on our heads.” “It was weird,” said another. “We were sitting there looking like giant birthday candles. Then we found we could speak different languages, so we rushed out and started talking to people.” Others, however, had different explanations. “Maybe they’d all taken very fast linguistic courses,” suggested one onlooker, while another believed that they might be all drunk.
Dateline: March 7, year 202, Rome
Headline: “Martyrs Lionized”
Two women, Perpetua (22) and Felicitas(16), were killed in Caesar’s Coliseum. They were sentenced to death today after being fingered as Christians by Perpetua’s father, a devout worshipper of Astarte. When the lions were let loose, Felicitas sang a psalm until a wild bear clawed her. “They just seemed too confident,” said one spectator, “death didn’t matter to them for some reason.” The manager of the Coliseum wasn’t available for comment. Apparently he was off looking for a soldier in his employ called Pudens. It seemed that Pudens had been converted to Christianity by Felicitas just as she was dying.
Dateline: Summer, year 313, Milan
Headline: “Milan’s Newest Fashion is an Edict”
Roman Emperors, Lecinias and Constantine, have jointly declared Christianity acceptable and welcome in the Roman Empire. Christians are to be persecuted no longer. Having met in Milan, they call their new decree the “Edict of Milan.” “So who are we supposed to find for the Coliseum’s wild animals to kill?” grumbled a discontented official, who refused to be named. “Now that we are all supposed to be Christians,” commented another Coliseum official, “We’re allowed to throw pagans, Christian heretics, and Jews to the wild beasts. Good for economy, I tell you!” No Jewish rabbis, followers of Astarte or Arian Christians were available for comment.
Dateline: 1054, Rome and Constantinople
Headline: “Church Has Splitting Headache”
The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church exchanged anathemas this year. This means that, after 300 years of fighting, the Christian Church is split in two. “I think they were out-Clast!” said one Roman bishop of the Iconoclast party when referring to the debate over the use of Icons in worship. “I think they’ve got rocks in their heads!” responded another bishop in Constantinople, referring to the idea that only the Roman popes gain ultimate authority through direct succession from the Apostle Peter whose name comes from the word “rock” in Hebrew.
Dateline: October 31, 1519, Wittenberg
Headline: “Luther Nailed”
Martin Luther, a priest-monk upset with the growing corruption within the church, nailed 95 statements, called Theses, to the front door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. In part, Luther’s Theses, protest against the practice of selling indulgences. “Kind of funny, if you ask me,” commented Mike, a family friend. “I mean, Luther comes from a wealthy family, so all he has to do is buy enough indulgences to get into heaven. What’s the problem?” In his own defense Luther stated, “Some people think, ‘God helps those who help themselves,’ but God helps everyone, rich or poor. Forgiveness is by God’s grace, not because of our good works.”
Newsflash: Dateline: 1611, England
This just in: The first authorized English version of the Bible has just been published by approval of King James and will be formally called the King James Version. An official in the royal publishing house stated that they even had a young playwright by the name of Shakespeare working on it. “I hear he’s doing rather well up in Stratford-on-Avon with his plays--nothing timeless, mind you, just popular stuff for the great unwashed public.”
Dateline: June 10, 1925, Toronto
Headline: “United Alternative Formed”
In a bold move, three major Christian denominations, the Methodist Church, the Congregational Union, and the Presbyterian Church in Canada, reformed themselves into one denomination at a packed worship service in the Mutual Street Arena. By an act of the Canadian Parliament and formally covenanted at this worship service, the new church is to be called The United Church of Canada. Rev. William Patrick stated that, “The combined experience of the three churches in the United Church will produce a nobler model for Christianity.” “It’ll never last!” declared one coffee shop patron, “When you start using new-fangled technology, like those loudspeakers used at that Union service, you’re turning away from the tried and true. It isn’t the way we’ve always done things. What’s the world coming to?”
Dateline: November 6, 1936, Moose Jaw
Headline: “She’s Rev’ed Up”
Today, in a revolutionary act at St. Andrew’s Church in Moose Jaw, Lydia Gruchy became the first woman ordained in The United Church of Canada. In 1934 a remit had been sent out to all Presbyteries, asking them if they approved of such an action. Seventy-nine said “yes,” and 26 said “no.” Still disagreeing with the ordination of women, one man grumbled, “How is she going to do the work of a minister when she still has all the housework to do? Can’t she just marry a minister and be a good help to him?” One commissioner to the General Council of 1934, remembering Lydia’s extremely heavy work-load for the Home Mission Board in rural Saskatchewan commented, “I doubt you’d find many men willing to carry the load she carries!”
Dateline: November, 1984, East End of Toronto
Headline: “Glenmont and Rhodes Avenue Become One”
Rhodes Avenue United Church originally, Rhodes Avenue Presbyterian Church, began in 1906 as a mission outpost sponsored by Bloor Street Presbyterian Church. Initially meeting in a tent, the congregation began work on the present building in 1926, and the sanctuary was dedicated in 1927. The Glen part of the name comes from Glenmount United Church, which began in 1911 as Glenmount Methodist Church several blocks further east. Glenmount and Rhodes Avenue amalgamated in 1984 to form Glen Rhodes United Church.
It was said that Noel and Imogene Gregg of Glenmount breathed a sigh of relief, thinking with the increase in numbers they would take a break from being on Committees!
The choir was thrilled…two more altos, a tenor and a soprano. Welcome Beth, Dora, Jackie and Ernie!
The congregation oo’d and awed when little Jennifer and Alistair Wood participated in the service playing duets on their recorders.
In 1991 the congregation of Simpson Avenue United Church, which began in 1899 as Howland Avenue Methodist Church in Riverdale, joined the fold.
The choir was all-agog at the anticipation of having Norm Abbot as Organist and Choir Director and Nelson Oliver with his wonderful humour and remarkable rich bass voice.
It was a good deal recounted Ms Jane Magill of Simpson Avenue. They got Nelson and Norm and we got Lawrence Pushee!
Today, we have many members who bring with them traditions from each of our founding congregations, and we continue to celebrate those gifts. Like many congregations we celebrate our history and love our story, but we are committed to our witness in the present and our future as a welcoming, inclusive, justice–seeking community of faith.
Dateline: August 1988, Victoria
Headline: “Gay Doesn’t Just Mean ‘Happy’ Any More”
At a General Council meeting of the United Church held here in Victoria, a controversial decision was made “that all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to him are welcome to be or become full members of the church,” and that all members are eligible to be considered for ordered ministry. Reaction was strong and split. Said Bernice Wish, “They [gays] claim that they’re 10 per cent of the population, but I don’t believe it. I’ve lived 66 years, I’ve come in contact with hundreds of people in business, and in all that time I’ve never met a homosexual.” A woman from the same congregation, who refused to be identified, sighed, “I’ve sat beside her in church for 24 years, but she doesn’t realize that I’m gay.” Rev. Sharon Moon stated, “We don’t understand homosexuality – There are those of us who don’t understand heterosexuality. We should be prepared to live with a little bit of ambiguity – Let’s trust the Spirit.” And Glen Rhodes followed that sage advice!
Dateline: Toronto 1994
TO BE OR NOT TO BE!
It was NOT an overnight decision! Seeing the concern and mixed feelings over the controversial decision of the United Church, Glen Rhodes launched an 18 month study program developed by Affirm United. Soon after, Glen Rhodes became an Affirming congregation and in true fashion held a celebration with 250 people in attendance.
Dateline: March 2012, Toronto
Headline: “Glen Rhodes United Have a New Minister!”
At a Congregational Meeting in March 2012, people at Glen Rhodes United unanimously approved its Joint Search Committee’s recommendation of a new minister. A further motion was passed to remove the bunk beds from the Barbara Christies Room.
And now they are excited to welcome, The Rev Taylor Albright and partner Jessie Bloom along with their 20 children ages 6 to 20.
In a long list of past experiences, Rev Albright (or Taylor), a former chef, combined culinary skills with a deep passion for social justice in initiating a number of community projects including cooking classes for the less privileged.
Taylor’s partner Jessie is President and founder of “Sustainable Architecture Design and Construction”. The company is dedicated to investing in the community! It includes opportunities and apprenticeship training to young people in need of support and guidance. Jessie is hopeful that Glen Rhodes will allow the opportunity to present some renovation plans that will give a better use of space to accommodate the increase in programs and community involvement. Jessie was quite taken with the sanctuary and the beautifully polished pews. There was some thought however to possibly bringing in a team to reinforce the balcony which will allow for the extra seating that would be required for Sunday worship! And after that Taylor stated, we’ll talk about the roof top garden and green house!
Taylor and Jessie’s children have been spending most of their time with Cecily Morgan planning a rally fundraiser and the first of many annual Community Picnics to be held at their country estate.
Rev Taylor was overjoyed at the warmth and generosity of the Glen Rhodes congregation and gave praise to Rev Jong Bok Kim for his wisdom and guidance.
There was much excitement after reviewing the JNAC Report and realizing the great potential starting within and reaching out to such a wonderfully diverse community as described in the Environics report.
Rev Albright was amazed and expressed appreciation for the hard work and major contribution of a small but mighty UCW. Rumour has it, that Imogene Gregg has accepted a butter tart challenge. Good luck with that one Taylor! Eleanor Richardson already seeing the potential for a fundraiser, intends to “sweeten the pot” by bringing in Marg Lennick and Helen Johnson!
A grumpy comment was overheard coming from the direction of the choir. “I just hope this new minister chooses processional hymns familiar to the choir. Through the laughter, Taylor was able to reassure the choir that since most of the family has played or sang in previous charges, there would be no lack of reminders! Audrey John and Bob immediately went to work on designs for the new choir gowns…WITH RAINBOWS??!! The Albright family had already picked up on the reputation of Glen Rhodes very talented choir Director Gerald Petkau and is looking forward to joining the chorus …AND the parties!
Rev Albright is anxious to get started and will begin by meeting with all committees and members of the Glen Rhodes community in exploring new and creative ways to rebuild the ministry together.
There was however one request before getting down to serious business and that was to see if anyone knew of an old-fashioned style diner that serves Butterscotch Sundaes!
Rev. Jong Bok Kim was quick to respond!!
And so we have heard the challenge of the past. We have heard the struggles, the passions, and the grace. We are facing current challenges: how do we continue to be a Christian voice in national and global affairs, reflecting God’s values of peace, justice, and respect for all peoples in our policies?
We know that following Christ is difficult, that it requires all we have in unity with the Spirit, and that it challenges us to see God’s goodness in creation. Let us go forth with that challenge filling our hearts. Let us answer God’s call to wrestle with our faith. Let us be open to new understandings of what it means to be human creations, in all our diversity. Let us do so as the