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

AOTS Biennial/Roundup Message from the President

Plans are moving forward for the combined AOTS Biennial/Roundup and I am delighted to report that our featured speaker, Michael Blair, will be able to join us for the entire weekend. Michael serves as Executive Minister of the Communities in Mission Unit of The United Church of Canada. He is the former Executive Director of the Toronto Christian Resource Center which is a ministry of the Toronto Southeast Presbytery serving the homeless and marginalized housed in Toronto's eastern downtown area. Previously, Michael served as a congregational minister of a number of Baptist churches in Toronto and St. Catherine’s. As a community chaplain with the Ontario Multifaith Council's Reintegration Program, he worked with individuals leaving the provincial jail system.

Harold Lorenz reports that we have received 21 registrations to date for the Biennial/Roundup. As many of you know the early bird cut-off date is March 31st so it is time to send those registrations in and plan to be with us for an exciting weekend of men’s fellowship and spiritual renewal.

An excellent workshop program is planned and our chaplain for the weekend is Brigadier David Estey (ret’d). Our Saturday evening program will feature the Cruisin Accapella Quartet and John Groeneveld will lead our sing-along’s.

All that will take place in the wonderful surroundings of the Jackson’s Point Conference Centre with the great cuisine provided by kitchen chefs. Don’t miss it!

As this is a combined national convention and biennial our agenda is packed. Please plan to be there for the National Convention where the AOTS national council will present our proposed new constitution. The l Convention begins at 2:00 pm on Friday, April 15.

Thank you all.

For More Information Check out the AOTS Biennial/Roundup Website
Get Your Registration Form
Contact the Round-up Registrar Keeling Little
Or call him at (705) 476-1126 for more information

President’s Report For March, 2011

Throughout the past two years I have attempted (with a modicum of success) to write a monthly report for our website. This will be my second last report as I am now in the final six weeks of my presidency.

Last week I received an email from Bay of Quinte Conference president Jim Waterfall that one of our clubs in Picton has decided to close up shop due to a lack of members. At the same time last month I had some correspondence with Richard Friedrich of our Duncan club which was reviewing whether they should stay on as members of AOTS. I am happy to report that they have decided to stay the course.

These are challenging times for AOTSers. We age. Our members become too old to carry on and our clubs pass away into non-existence. But non-existence is not really an appropriate phrase. Our clubs have left their mark on our society, in our communities, and on behalf of our church. I know that with president –elect Dave Morris taking over the reins of the presidency that we will be in good hands.

Hopefully our membership will see fit to adopt the new proposed constitution which has been so ably and carefully constructed by national council member John Cooke. It will allow the incoming executive to do some of our work without the encumbrances of a constitution belonging to another time, when we were bigger and much less top heavy.

While we are going through these challenges to our existence, so is our church. Yet another staff cut took place at our national church office and that is a reflection of how we are changing. Quite simply we are not the church we once were and we have to become the church that the future demands, if we are to have any relevance in Canadian society at all.

Next week, as president of AOTS I have been asked to sit in on a focus group about a new church initiative called United Cares. The long and short of United Cares is that is it a program designed for those members of our communities who do not see themselves as church goers but would still like to participate in valid social justice and compassionate programs through a solid organization that they can trust and know that their money is being spent wisely and with care. We know how important that is from our charitable work on projects like the Dondi drum circles and Drumathon.

And speaking of the Drumathon please allow me to pass onto you why our work will never go into that state on non-existence. Simply because we did it.

Yesterday I received a note from Chris Cullen who many of you know as a focal point contact for the Drumathon itself. Chris is in Kingston attending to her elderly mother. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Chris passed on to the following email she received about the Dondi project itself.

It is funny how things turn out and how in one way of another we are all connected. The note speaks for itself and it mentions the videos that were produced by Men's Ministry Network folks who visited Angola to touch base with those at IECA, our church’s partner, who were struggling to rebuild the Lutamo School.

It brought a tear to my eye. That may happen to you as well. All I can say to all of you is thank you for your support in this. I have called Janice Johnson to give her an update on the Dondi Project.

Until next month... Jim



Yesterday I came across the videos for the Dondi Project through Nancy Henderson's web page ( ). They were tremendously moving. The first video, as you are aware, shows the grave of Amelia DeMorais Wilson. Amelia was my grandmother. Our family had assumed that her grave was destroyed during the revolution, and were shocked to find it still intact. We have a picture of my grandfather placing flowers on my grandmother's grave taken in 1957, the year of her death. It is the only time we have seen the grave--until yesterday on the video.

Two of my grandmother's three children are still living: my mother and my aunt. These videos have had a tremendous effect on our family, as you can well imagine. My grandfather drew the plans for the Currie Institute and oversaw its construction. He and my grandmother taught there (teacher training) for about thirty years. Several years ago, my mother wrote a history of her parents' lives and the work at the Dondi mission, particularly their involvement at the Institute, the printing press, and chapel. I believe you would be most interested in reading it.

I am most interested in receiving current information regarding this very ambitious and worthwhile goal to rebuild the school.

Janice Johnson