Our Purpose and Mission Statement

Working to build God's dream. Help wanted!

We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Friday, 27 June 2014

The music of our lives

On Wednesday the monthly evening service took place at Glen Rhodes. Evening makes for such a different experience. The numbers attending are smaller for one thing, but it's not just that. The ending of the day has a very different spirit than the beginning. 

We tend to do worship that is a bit more contemplative at these evening services, too. This time it was a focus on music. In particular, we used the music of the Taizé and Iona communities, in France and Scotland respectively. 

At the reflection part of the service, people talked about what music meant to them. The stories were fascinating. Many people went back to their childhoods, with tales of who taught or encouraged them to sing, or who told them to keep quiet. Powerful stuff to hear how significant those early experiences can be.

Got you thinking? Did you raise your voice in the choir as a child, or were you told to mouth the words and keep quiet? Church is a place where we still sing as a group. Kind of old-fashioned, but it turns out to just what a body needs to be in communion with others, and with the great Spirit that sings life into all things.

Posted by Robin Wardlaw

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

GECO throws awesome community dinner

The Gerrard East Community Organization is the new kid on the block. But it sure knows how to do dinner for a gang.  GECO sprang up last year, I believe. On Monday they laid on dinner for about a hundred people at Glen Rhodes Church. Then they watched a long lineup form for seconds. No surprise there. (The congregation does a dinner on the fourth Monday of every month, and is always happy to team up with others for the planning, shopping, cooking parts of the day.) "Who do I congratulate," I asked. Hard working volunteers deflected praise for their efforts. Their answer: Tammy.

Tammy and the other planners and cooks brought some nice variety with their menu: pulled pork on slider buns, home-baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad. All of them were perfectly prepared and delicious. Tammy had to split her time to attend a child's school graduation. She got back to find things running smoothly, and enough food left for the two of them.

Diners come from the immediate neighbourhood and also farther away. The atmosphere at these community meals always seems to be a happy one. Gratitude flows freely, like the water, juice and hot drinks over at the beverage table. Conversations start between strangers, or continue between friends. The dessert table is the only problem part--it can take a long time and tough thinking to choose among the array of treats on offer. A wide diversity of people shows up to set up, serve tables and clean up.

Hats off to GECO. They found time and energy in what I'm sure are busy lives to do something beautiful for people they have never met. May they go from strength to strength as they seek to make the Gerrard East community even more liveable.

posted by Robin Wardlaw

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Pics from First Nations Sunday

What a great day we had on Sunday--the weather was perfect and our speaker was a joy. Here are some photos of the smudging Rev. Maggie McLeod led outside before the service. Inside, she spoke about the Truth and Reconciliation process, and invited us hear each other, especially painful stories, without fear.

We finished with bannock and jam at the back of the church. A beautiful time of sharing, learning and celebration.
John adds the heartbeat of Mother Earth

Maggie McLeod offers teaching about sage

Smudging for love, respect and strength

Saturday, 21 June 2014

First Nations Day - we are all treaty people

Happy First Nations Day!
Congratulations to Canada's First Nations on the longest day of year, the feast of the first fruits. What a welcome sight wild strawberries would be after a winter without fresh fruit. First Nations seem to be taking huge steps these days to address the wounds caused by centuries of colonization. 
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in its final year is important, for example. Thousands of survivors told their stories--sometimes in the open, sometimes privately because the memories are so traumatic. They did their part. Now it's up to people of the dominant culture to acknowledge all that pain. Anyone with trauma in their family story knows how the echoes can ripple for generations. That's what many First Nations people are dealing with. Except it might be every family in a community affected, everyone struggling to get health at once.
The drum, the sweat lodge, the teachings of the elders, for some their Christian faith: many things help individuals and communities recover.
On Sunday, June 22, to celebrate First Nations Day, the Glen Rhodes community hears from the Rev. Maggie McLeod. She's a First Nations person from Saskatchewan (Peepeekisis FN, to be exact), and also a United Church minister. Currently she holds a position with the national church working with First Nation United Churches. 
Many of us have only fleeting contact with First Nations. We need to hear often from people such as Ms. McLeod about building bonds of peace until all Canadians consider themselves treaty people. 
Here's the schedule for Sunday. All welcome, of course! Hope to see you there.

10 o'clock        - smudging with sage on the side lawn of the church

10:30               - worship service honouring the four colours and the four directions with   
                          Rev. McLeod preaching

posted by Robin Wardlaw

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Summer movie series: Tuesdays in July

Take a movie showing somewhere in the east end of the city. Stir in a group of thoughtful and fun-loving movie lovers. Add a dash of reflection about themes emerging from the film and you have Glen Rhode's summer movie series.
This year it's called Outstanding Glen Rhodes Entertainment, or OGRE, just for fun. (Our slogan: "Putting the GR in OGRE.")
Everything gets going on July 8. Movie and location: to be announced. Watch this space, or call the church closer to the date.
posted by: Robin Wardlaw

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The world arrives for Pride
Toronto's Pride Parade is already a giant event. Wait till the world comes to join us on June 29. What is already an unbelievable celebration of diversity gets even bigger this year when Toronto hosts marchers from around the globe.
Glen Rhodes Church has been active at Pride for many years. At first there was a United Church contingent walking in the parade. Members of the congregation carried a banner. Then there a float. Members of the congregation raised money to rent the truck, helped build the scenery and decorate. Then they walked or rode in the parade on the big day.

June 21 Interfaith Fair
This year things get even more exuberant. At the start of Pride Week, the United Church is actively involved in the Interfaith Pride Fair, an all-afternoon and evening blow out held on the grounds of Metropolitan United Church (at the corner of Queen and Church, just east of St. Micheal's Hospital).
There be speakers, choirs, performers, a multi-faith youth music event, and much more. It starts at 3 and goes into the late evening. Here's the link: http://uccworldpride.com.

Volunteering at the Fair
See the Help Wanted page of our site.

Why it matters
Every year marchers come from other countries. Many of their stories are shocking and often terrifying. Canadians, especially those living in larger centres, have gotten fairly used to diversity. When a lesbian ran for Premier of Ontario recently (and won), for example, her orientation wasn't even an item of discussion in the campaign. Not so elsewhere. Life is very harsh for people of a minority orientation in many, many nations of the world. And as we know, for many Canadians, too. 
We'll keep marching till the world is safe for everyone, then we'll keep marching to celebration our differences.

posted by: Robin Wardlaw
June 1 Multi-faith Cricket & Tea
What would bring Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarians, Christians and others together for fun and community building? We've tried walks along the Danforth concluding with multi-faith song and prayer events. Not bad. But it's a bit hard to get to know people while walking along a city sidewalk. If everyone's moving at the same pace, one only talks to a few people close by. A bit difficult.
What about a game? What about a game of cricket, at which some of us (originally from South Asia) are expert, and other (raised in North America) are newbies? It turned out to be a hit, so to speak. Pictures to come.
Experts showed newbies how to hold the bat, hit the ball, and when (or whether) to run after hitting it. The day was sunny, warm and perfect. The school yard had a high fence to (mostly) keep tennis balls in. Smiles and more smiles. Applause at good plays, and good efforts. Loud drumming and colourful dancing from an energetic bangra group. Children flew kites. The preparations by the multi-faith planning group were impeccable, and it all ended with a fantastic spread at a tea in the church basement.
Participants were talking about "the next time" before planners had even considered whether or not to do it again. Thank goodness it was only a tennis ball (soft) and not a real cricket ball (wickedly hard), so there were no injuries. And while we may not have had in-depth conversations, we played together as teams and cheered wildly from the side lines.
Wish everyone could have been there to drink in the atmosphere of peace and joy.