News and Info - General News and Announcements | The United Church of Canada

AOTS Supports Local Charities

Community Living Sarnia Lambton was given a cheque for $700 in June from the Grace United Church AOTS Club. This is the fourth year that about $700 has been donated. The club operates a fish fry and donates the proceeds to the respite camping program of this charity which serves the needs of mentally and physically challenged adults' Marvin Bildfell, Club Treasurer is seen here presenting the cheque to the charity Assistant Director.

The 85th Anniversary - Connecting from near and far

Happy 85 th Anniversary, Commissioners of the 40 th General Council

Celebrations of the church’s 85 th anniversary will be happening across the church this month. Here are two church-wide events in which you may be interested and able to participate – from your own home or church!

1. Watch live greetings from the General Council Office’s 85th Anniversary Open House (Thursday, June 10th, 3:00PM Eastern Time)

If you are unable to join us in person at the General Council Office this Thursday, you can still connect with the celebrations which will be happening here and in other locations across the country:
  • Hear live greetings from members at the open house and at other churches and celebrations by going to the following website between 3:00 and 4:15 Eastern Time: When prompted enter your or your church’s name. Up to 100 people can view this video conference at a time, so try again if the conference is full. (Note: the system may automatically install an add-in when you enter the meeting, which will take a few seconds.)
  • Send in your own greetings. We are inviting everyone to offer a message in six-words on the occasion of the church’s 85 th anniversary. Call or email your “six-word story” to Diane (reply to this email or to the contact information below). As time permits, we will share some of these messages with those assembled at the office and over the video conference
2. Participate in the live steaming of an 85th Anniversary Worship Service (June 20th , 5:00 PM Eastern Time)

On June 20th, 5pm (Eastern Time), a church-wide 85th Anniversary Service for the United Church of Canada will be live streamed on Not only will the service be streamed across the country, but sections of the liturgy will be led online from St. John's Nfld, Kingston Bermuda, Hartley Bay BC, Whitehorse YT., with music from the Every Kid Choir, live and video liturgical dance, prayer, visual art from the streets of Toronto 'Paint Your Faith Project'.
People from across the country will be able to live-Tweet (hash tag #ucc85) prayers and reflections on Mardi Tindal's sermon during the service. Mardi will be engaging some of the tweeted messages in her sermon and prayers will be lifted up during communion.

Committee Member Services
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Tel: 416-231-7680 x 2211
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Fax: 416-231-3103


President’s Report June 2010

This month I want to report on two items that I have encountered over the course of the last month.

Contributions of John Spong

I have read a number of John Spong’s books and find his study and scholarship to be top notch. He asks the questions many of us have thought about and he has also done the work to research the answers to those questions. I just finished reading his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and it is no exception.

Spong’s main idea is that fundamentalist notions of Biblical morality and biblical inerrancy fuel prejudice, misogyny, sexism and homophobia.

However, he goes on to point out this does not mean that the Bible is a lost cause. On the contrary the Bible is a dynamic document, dramatic and relevant for our time. However, if ownership of the Bible and for that matter Christianity is ceded to the fundamentalists then many will continue to see the document is irrelevant and antiquated for its time.

Rescuing the Bible is a matter of reconciling scientific breakthroughs with the context in which the Bible was written. Our understanding biblical context has grown greatly in the last 200 years as we learn more and more about the times of Jesus and those who wrote these documents; including what documents were chosen to be included in the Bible and how these documents came to be written.

To ignore this question means that we limit knowledge, religious understanding, insight into spiritual development to a definition written about in the first and second century. There are concepts in the Bible, religious and cultural traditions which are repugnant to us now. They are misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist. They support slavery, murder and other anachronistic anti-people social practices.

Backward concepts are supported through literalism and fundamentalism: concepts like menstruation being unclean and those with disabilities and being cursed by God

As Spong points out, “Womanhood is insulted in verse after verse of the Torah. At one point Moses expresses anger that the women were allowed to live (Num 31:15).

He points out further that these problems of literalism are not unique to what is called the Old Testament. There are a number of occasions when Jesus is portrayed as narrow-minded, vindictive and even hypocritical.

Taken literally, the Bible supports a god who picks sides amongst people, who is vengeful, nationalistic, cruel and sadistic. Literalism and fundamentalism promote the concept of a chosen people and therefore those who are unchosen.

Spong calls for genuine biblical scholarship: scholarship which examines the situational context of how these stories of the Bible and of Jesus came to be written. This scholarship requires us to recognize that there were many different authors of biblical passages which have varying descriptions of God as both omniscient and inept. A literal interpretation of the Bible presents us with many problems as Christians. It steeps us in ignorance and the narrow-mindedness of pre-scientific understandings. Those who insist on Literalism are pushing Christianity to the brink of extinction as a spiritual ideology. Our traditional patterns of thought have not been challenged enough.

Michael Blair – some straight talk

Second, I want to report on an excellent sermon provided by Michael Blair at a Toronto Southeast Presbytery meeting I attended recently. Michael is a senior United Church leader in our church and as a person of colour and a gay man he has a unique perspective on such church topics like inclusion, hospitality and equality. Michael’s words may be hard to hear but they are worth listening to. My notes from his talk are as follows:

Church began as a movement, driven by practicality, limited by resources, as opposed to as we are now, driven by fear of Catholicism shoring up the protestant fortress. We are challenged by the context of appreciating difference. The goodness of god’s creation is found in the differences we have. We are struck with a desire to conform - a sameness. We are afraid to embrace difference. An intercultural church acknowledges differences as opposed to looking for conformity. There are 3 things to consider. We need to have courageous conversations; conversations which are more about process than content; sacred conversations about race, gay and lesbian issues, inside the church. We need to realize that our missionary enterprises created these anti gay and lesbian views that we are hearing from those who have come here now as immigrants. We tend to pour buckets of water on anyone with any spark of evangelism and social justice. We need to deconstruct our language and re-understand our uses of worlds like hospitality, inclusive and equality. These bespeak of a host/ guest relationship where the guest doesn’t have to do anything. Similarly, inclusive suggests that we include the other. But who is the other? It is not a space about mutuality; that you have something to give me. Finally equality suggests we all start from the same place. We do not. We need equity, where everyone gets what they need. Third there is the necessity to seek first, to understand rather than to be understood. It is not us and the other but an understanding of how our differences enrich us. God is calling us to some place other than what we have contented ourselves with.

Jim McKibbin, AOTS (As One That Serves) Past President

Moderator's support for the Dondi Project

"The Dondi Project is proving to be a vital way of energizing and engaging men of The United Church of Canada for the rebuilding of the Lutamo School, part of Dondi in central Angola. Through events across the country, inspiration is growing for this collaborative project with our long time partner, The Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA). Funds raised will strengthen education in Angola and support for our Mission and Service Fund, thereby strengthening ongoing relationships with our partners around the world."

Mardi Tindal

Greetings Dondi Project Enthusiasts

The Abbey North Drummers continue to drum up enthusiasm for the Dondi Project on their Western Tour.

Dan Beveridge had a good turnout in Regina to the Dondi Drummers Circle on May 31, 2010 - funds raised on Sunday were $1,388.08. A report from the AOTS Western Vice President Harvey Douglas said that there are men still living in Saskatchewan!! Some of the men at Westminister U.C. in Regina were living proof there are still some men in Saskatchewan and they do come out and have fun when given a chance. He was not surprised with the high number of westerners supporting the project.

You can keep up with their blog and twitter updates at the following sites: or

In June we head to Newfoundland to tell the good news story of rebuilding the Lutamo School.

Please keep the people of Angola and the Dondi Project in your thoughts and prayers.

We continue to sign up locations to host our National Drumathon on October 1st and 2nd, 2010.

We will have a minimum of 100 sites with 20 drummers/site each drummer getting $250 in sponsors. This adds up to $500,000!!

Many of you have already supported the Dondi Project with your time, talents and dollars.

We are now asking that you consider a second financial donation. We have raised $140,000 of our goal of $1.3 million dollars.

$1 million for building the Lutamo School, dormitories, and related infrastructure: $100,000 for our Mission & Service Fund; and $200,000 for staff and expenses which will enable us to bring this project to a successful attainment of our goals. Through this project we are energizing men across our church; deepening our partnership with the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola; planting a seed of hope as the Angolan people seek to move forward as a country of justice and compassion.

Your contributions are making a difference. Your donation will enable us to soon break ground in Dondi!

Please send your cheque to:
Lloyd Paul, Men's Ministries
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4

Make your cheque out to "The United Church of Canada" with "Dondi Project" on the memo line.

All donations of $20 or more will receive an income tax receipt.

Thanks for your ongoing support and engagement with the Dondi Project.


Lloyd Paul
Men's Ministries
The United Church of Canada