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

News and Events

                 Life and Work of the Congregation

The church office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon  Phone:  416 465-3755, email: glenrhodesunited@bellnet.ca

Outreach Ministry:

·         The Drop-In Centre would appreciate donations of coffee, cold cereal, sugar, cookies/ snacks, can openers, toothbrushes and other toiletries, and books (romance, novels, mysteries, children’s, and so on.)
·         Drop-In and Food Bank is open on Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Glen Rhodes United Church Holy Conversation about
Mission redevelopment 
Internal conversations
Since late spring, the Our Purpose Team  (OPT), has been gathering information about Glen Rhodes Church and its neighbourhood, all to help us determine our purpose at present.
On Sunday, September 29, the congregation began to review those findings and direct the shaping of a purpose statement. About 25 people stayed after church to review the OPT presentation and compare it with their sense of what Glen Rhodes is being called to be and do.
Internal information gathering at Glen Rhodes consisted of:
- a discussion about our faith journey and the passion that moves us to love and serve,

- reflecting on a twenty year old statement (“What Makes Us Tick”),

- a history timeline,

- exploration of our theology using hymn and scripture choices.
What follows is the initial condensing of this information by OPT to find themes, with input sought from the congregation to expand or change it to better reflect who we are and who we hope to be (our purpose) as a church. 

Our faith journey (how we got to Glen Rhodes)
Our faith journeys have been in the church from birth
we made later connection with Glen Rhodes, due to:
  • the theology here: namely questioning & seeking
  • the congregation’s inclusiveness
  • a warm welcome in a troubled time of life
Our faith is sustained here by:
  • worship and music.
Our Passion (why we are involved)
  • things we do at church: music, the arts, animals, fellowship
  • outward-focused activity: outreach, social action, social justice.
Reflecting on “What Makes Us Tick”
  • it is treasured at GR as “a useful guide”, and “a call to justice”
  • it needs change: shorten, update, needs to proclaim our Christian beliefs [discussion was about whether it already proclaims them, implicitly, and whether it needs to be more explicit]
Our history: learning from the timeline
  • recent decades have been characterized by: care for neighbour (food sharing, people with HIV/AIDS, refugees, sexual minorities)
  • many life events: baptism, membership, marriage, funerals, etc.
  • often, a 10-20 year lag in church response to social trends.
Our purpose: a) favourite hymn conversation
(When asked to name a hymn that reflected the purpose of Glen Rhodes Church, themes emerged from all the choices people made.)
  • Hospitality: welcome/acceptance,
a banquet hall where stranger, outcast are welcome
  • Spiritual life: hope, peace, love
  • Guidance
·         Joy (we are not alone)
·         Forgiveness
  • Work toward a new world/ fulfillment of God’s purpose
  • A journey, with uncertainty.
Our Purpose: b) Scripture passage conversation
In the same way as the hymn conversation, members chose scripture passages to reflect their understanding of the purpose of the church. Similar themes emerged.
  • hospitality: welcome, unconditional love
·         spiritual life, meaning:
·         guidance
·         living our faith
·         seeing the sacred in everything
  • A new world= social justice (such as advocacy and lobbying), and social action (such as sharing, helping, and healing).
External conversations
The Our Purpose Team also asked representatives of other groups and organizations (small business, police, health care providers, the nearby library, churches) about changes they see in the neighbourhood and gaps in services for local residents.
The other external sources of information were an October, 2011 survey of the characteristics and values of the area, and brief articles in church publications about the learnings of other denominations around purpose and mission.
Our neighbourhood/ context.
Interviews (biz, police, health, lib, church)
Changes: in character of neighbourhood - more young couples, fewer East Asians
  • In economy of the area: rents rising
  • In social problems: addictions. Mental health, social isolation, prostitution, seniors
  • also: people unaware of spiritual needs
Gaps in services in the area:
  • Services for youth
  • Coordination needed
  • Partnerships welcome.
Environics data (October 2011 report to the church)
Service area: 49,000, approximately 50% Christian
People reporting United Church affiliation: 6.4%, or 3,000 people approx
Values of area residents reported higher than Toronto as a whole, in order, from highest:
  • new social responsibility (meaning belonging, mutual assistance)
  • Primacy of environmental protect.
  • Rejection of authority
  • Equal relationship with youth
  • Personal creativity
  • Government involvement in social issues sought
  • Flexible definition of family
  • Spiritual quest.
Literature (articles on responding to change in church magazines)
  • churches need to be prepared to think differently/be flexible about: membership (how are people who are sceptical about church invited, what expectations of them are they), location and timing of worship, liturgy.churches need to keep: grounding in prayer, theology of resurrection hope, image of Christ in others/world, a vision
Beginning to draw conclusions
The Our Purpose Team has made some tentative suggestions about our theology at Glen Rhodes and our purpose. More conversation is needed with the whole congregation before the Team can continue working on the purpose statement, values and goals.
Our Theology
Based on everything members have been saying since the May congregational session, it would seem that the congregation holds the following  beliefs.
about God. God might be thought of as:
  • Provider/host
  • Refuge/sanctuary
  • Guide
  • Lover
about Jesus:
  • Stranger (to be welcome)
  • Companion on the journey
about faith: it is…
  • Sense of hope
  • Search
  • Celebration
Our Purpose
Components of the purpose statement will likely include:
  • (Radical) hospitality
  • Spiritual life is a journey of caring and search for justice.
  • Partnership with God and others.
In discussion (after church, September 29):
  • How are we going to tell others who we are and our purpose?
  • What are going to do to live this out?[Robin suggested that this is the content of phase 3 of mission redevelopment]
  • do we include, as part of our mission, faith formation/growing new Christians?
To be continued…
Time ran out before there had been a full discussion. Another session will be scheduled

                                   BEYOND GLEN RHODES
Canadian mining companies operating abroad...  Not all Canadian mining companies operating abroad do so in an ethical or responsible manner. This had led to calls from partner organizations in affected countries for assistance. The 41st General Council, meeting in Ottawa last summer, approved a United Church petition asking for binding Canadian regulation of such companies on environmental, human rights and other matters. Find out more by going to the United Church website through this link:  http://www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/takeaction/130314

Right Relations update... The work of truth and reconciliation around the issue of First Nations Residential Schools continues.  For information on the United Church's "Living into Right Relations" check this link: http://www.united-church.ca/communications/newsletters/right-relations-update

                 We are an Affirming Congregation

Following are some Frequently Asked Questions about Affirming Ministries...

FAQs about Affirming Ministries*

(*From “Open Hearts: Resources for Affirming Ministries in The United Church of Canada” pp. 25-27)

Q. What is an Affirming Ministry?
A. Affirming Ministries are congregations, presbyteries, Conferences, educational institutions, and other ministries within the United Church that publically declare their commitment to inclusion and justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Although Affirming Ministries make an explicit statement about issues of sexuality and gender, their commitment to justice is far broader. They continually grow and change as they seek to live more fully into God’s way of welcome, love, and justice for all creation. Just as God rejoices in the goodness and diversity of creation, so too Affirming Ministries honour and celebrate diversity.

Q. Does that mean that Affirming Ministries are only concerned about those issues?
A. Affirming Ministries are not gay churches or single-issue communities. They work on a variety of justice issues. They know that the work of healing and justice-making, of being the church, is an ongoing part of who they are, whether they strive to combat racism or work to make their buildings wheelchair-accessible; as they attend anti-poverty marches or seek to live out the United Church’s apology on residential schools; when they honour children and provide space for addiction support groups.

Q. What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
A. The Bible says nothing about homosexuality as a sexual orientation because the idea of people having different sexual orientations was not part of the biblical worldview. However, there are several references in the Hebrew scriptures and the Epistles to men having sexual relations with other men and to women having sexual relations with women (e.g., Romans 1:26–27). In all these passages, same-sex sexual relations are said to be wrong. However, this needs to be put in context. Some of these passages cited as arguments against homosexuality also condemn other behaviours we consider acceptable, such as creating images of people, birds, or animals (Romans 1:22) or eating foods such as shrimp that are deemed to be unclean—a practice that is also called an abomination in the Bible (Leviticus 20:25).

Q. Did Jesus have anything to say about same-sex relationships?
A. The gospels have no references to same-sex relationships or homosexuality. However, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Do not judge” and “Love your neighbour.”

Q. Do all United Church congregations celebrate same-sex weddings?
A. No, the decision is made on a congregation-by-congregation basis. Some congregations offer weddings to all, some offer weddings only to heterosexual couples, and some permit their clergy to officiate at off-site same-sex weddings.

Q. Do all Affirming Ministries celebrate same-sex weddings?
A. Yes, it is one of the criteria to be declared an Affirming Ministry that a congregation must offer heterosexual and same-sex couples the same rights and privileges, including weddings.

Q. If our congregation becomes Affirming, does that mean we’ll be a gay church?
A. No. Affirming congregations, like all other United Church congregations, have a wide diversity of members and adherents, including heterosexual couples, families, seniors, children, youth, singles, as well as some LGBT people. Typically, in most Affirming Ministries LGBT people are usually more visible, out, and active than average because they’re in a safe and supportive place. Often same-sex families want their children to be part of an Affirming Ministry because of the supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere they find. But many heterosexual people choose Affirming Ministries for the same reason—it’s a place where children, youth, and adults can grow in faith in an atmosphere of respect and justice for people from all walks of life.

Q. Will our ministry lose members or donors if we become Affirming?
A. Some congregations do lose a few members when they decide to become Affirming, usually people with a strongly held opinion that homosexuality is evil. However, most ministries grow in numbers and in vitality when they become Affirming. People are attracted to congregations that study and grow, are actively living out their vision and mission, and are welcoming to others.

Q. How many Affirming Ministries are there?
A. The number is growing. In 2010, there were 70 ministries across Canada.

Q. Can’t we just say “everyone is welcome”? Why do we need to name sexual orientation and gender identity in our statements?
A. First, we need to be explicit because so many Christians have been so explicit about their exclusion. Second, many churches that say they love or welcome everyone are not at all inclusive or accepting of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans. People may have very different understandings of what “all” or “everyone” really includes. And third, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are often invisible. Human rights have been won only when issues of injustice become more visible. Affirming Ministries are public and explicit about what their welcome and justice-seeking really means.

Q. What is Affirm United’s relation to The United Church of Canada.
A. Affirm United is a partner organization of The United Church of Canada. It is an independently incorporated charitable organization whose membership (mainly United Church members) is open to those who support the organization’s work, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Q. Is the celebration where we declare ourselves an Affirming Ministry the end of the process for becoming Affirming?

A. The celebration is an important milestone, but it is only part of a long-term commitment to live out what it means to be an Affirming Ministry. Affirming Ministries are asked to create an ongoing Action Plan. They recognize that there will always be more to learn. Affirming Ministries continue to grow and change as they gain further understanding and as they seek new ways to act for the healing and wholeness of all creation.

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