Friday, April 5, 2024

A few Sundays back, our beloved soprano Ellen McAteer sang the Lord’s Prayer with a ferocity I’ve rarely heard. This was at our 11 am traditional service, mind you. When she finished, we applauded. I wasn’t surprised. We applaud often at our 9:15 contemporary service. And Ellen’s version was celestial.

One might object that applause isn’t the best response to a prayer. “This is not a performance,” one… Read more

Thursday, February 1, 2024

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten to know United Church polity is that it is really, really hard to change our church’s foundation.

Our administrative council voted a couple weeks ago in support of a remit to change the UCC’s Basis of Union to allow for an autonomous Indigenous… Read more

Friday, December 29, 2023

How does it feel as you prepare to leave TEMC?

I feel a lot of emotions. First it was bittersweet, then straight-up sad, and now I’m back to bittersweet. I’ve had an amazing time here. Now it’s time to go and do other things, to better myself and my career. So it’s a bittersweet time for me.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

An interview by Rev. Dr. Jason Byassee with Dr. Elaine Choi, Director of Music at TEMC. 

Tell us about the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting, which you’ve just won?

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Last Monday night we were honoured to host a gathering for prayer with three neighbourhood congregations—Grace Church on the Hill, Congregation Beth Tzedec, and Holy Blossom Temple. This sanctuary was full, with some 600 of the 800 people here our Jewish neighbours. It seemed every one of them thanked us, often with tears: ‘it’s been lonely. Thank you for your kindness.’ What we did was not hard: my sermon was short, Elaine’s conducting and Stephen’s playing were simple compared to a normal Sunday.… Read more

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Friends, I am glad to tell you about a new partner sharing space in our building.

City High School in Toronto is a college preparatory program for Chinese-speaking secondary school students. They are using classrooms on our third floor, down the hall from my office, and office space off our East Chapel. I’m bumping into high school kids when I head down the hall to the water cooler or to the kitchen. And I love it.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

As many of you know, TEMC is proud to have recently amalgamated with a Welsh United Church. Wales has more than 1500 years of church history. But if you're like me, you're relatively unaware of that history. So I've planned a pilgrimage to Wales, devoted to learning about Christ's work through the church in Wales, past and present. Wales inherited a unique strand of the Christian tradition called Celtic Christianity. The Celts, called the Galatians in the Bible, were a people with a vast territorial expanse north of the Roman Empire. With no written language,… Read more

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

There are three other places in town that I’ve preached at most often besides TEMC. One is Upper Canada College for its chapel service. The second is Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. The third is Christie Gardens, where a number of our elderly members live and worship in chapel once a week. I got to preach there again recently and was struck how much I learned.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

An opinion piece made the rounds among us pastor types recently. Its author was saying goodbye not just to a congregation, but to pastoral ministry. It’s an old and creaky narrative that congregations are stuck in their ways. We clergy fancy ourselves more forward-thinking than our timid flocks. It’s also a… Read more

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

I’ve been grateful to hear from our finance folks that y’all have responded well to my financial appeal. Several dozen of you have gotten in touch with that office to increase your giving and explicitly mentioned the letter. We’re a church that steps up when called upon. I’m proud of that.

My colleague Bishop Jenny Andison of St. Paul’s Bloor Street tells me of a meeting with a new family at their growing church. They were eager to join St. Paul’s. They turned to her with enthusiasm and asked, “How much are the… Read more