Bits and Bites Newsletter

Bits & Bites 26 August 2021
- Posted 2021-08-26 15:20:17

Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.

Joyce Meyer

Well, Rev. Adam is on his way.  He was boarding his flight to Warsaw around 6.00 a.m. (our time) this morning to connect to his Toronto flight, and ‘home’ to us.  Oh!  He will have some stories to tell!  So will we!

We can tell him how great George McKibbon and his team have been doing at Market on Fridays.  It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of The Gathering Place and the books on display are sparking some good, sometimes lively, conversation.

Collecting fresh fruit and veg there for the Food Bank is also working well with contributions from both visitors and vendors and the guys at the Bank are so pleased with the harvest.  Apparently they have lunches for kids and send them all home with 5 pieces of fruit … if they have it.  Thanks to Jeanne Grimes for letting us know that they DO accept fresh produce.  You can take it around to the Nickel Street centre during opening hours.  As to all the other stuff – tinned goods, packages, etc. – the box is still on my front steps at 39 Division Street.  All contributions gratefully received.

We can tell Adam that, even though we missed him, Larry Fisher and Rev. Larry Beverly did a great job keeping our video services up and running.  Jo’Anna Carter Zoomed on with Bible Study too. 

We’re still planning on our first in-person worship service being held on September 12th.  Given Covid restrictions, it might not be the all-out celebration we would wish for but it will be wonderful to see anyone who can make it out – still masked and distanced but … I’ll take it!

Meanwhile, elsewhere (& I haven’t said THAT for a while!)…

The Treble Makers will be making beautiful music again, this time at the St James & St Brendan parkette just south of The Gathering Place.  St J&B is organizing “Labour Day in the Park” on Sunday, September 5th and The Treble Makers are scheduled for noon-to-1.00 p.m.  Yes, masks. Yes, distancing.  Yes, good music and company!

And that’s it for now.  If you have any news, let us know.  Any birthdays or anniversaries for September, which is almost upon us?  Make a list of all the things you want to tell Rev. Adam on his return.  Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see shadows.”

Helen Keller

Bits & Bites 29 July 2021
- Posted 2021-08-01 11:21:40

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…

William Shakespeare

Sitting by an open window here, I swear I can almost hear the grass growing as it soaks up the rain.  I suppose I could have also started off today with Shakespeare’s, “When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?”  The answer to that, as it currently stands and regardless of the weather, is September 12th – that’s when we’re hoping to start up in-person Services.  And I fully expect that there will be a few more than three of us looking forward to that!

I say this with some confidence as our Canada Day celebration of Rev. Adam’s pending Citizenship was a joyful reunion for many of us – a ‘dry run’ for things to come.  Thanks to everyone who sent copies of their photos and video clips of the day.  There’s a short video to remember the fun on our YouTube page here:  https://youtu.be/kvmWhRsQBrQ  Looking at the viewing numbers, it’s been seen 12 times already and I only just put it up.  I’m pretty sure that over half of those are Hungarian.

Speaking of Hungarian, Rev. Adam is ensconced in the family cottage and seems to be at the beck and call of his nephew … and enjoying every minute of it.  I hear they’re sharing a paddling pool.  We’ll need photos, right?

While the cat’s away, the mice still have things to do.  First and foremost, we’re planning on having a table at the Port Colborne Farmers’ Markets on August 13th, 20th, 27th, September 3rd, and 10th.  We’ll have leaflets outlining various plans we have for the autumn – as mentioned in the last Bits & Bites – and a smile on our faces.  Can you pitch in?  Let George McKibbon know: 

905 631-8489 or Mckibbongeorge@gmail.com

You’ll remember the Van de Laar family, Cassy, Jason, & children?  Well, there’s a new addition to the family:  Harriet Winnifred Holden Van de Laar. Born July 22nd at 12:37 am weighing 7lbs 2 oz 21 inches. Congratulation and blessings to the whole family and welcome, Harriet Winnifred!

Bible Studies, Wednesdays and Thursdays, carry on over the summer but Friday Morning Coffee Lounge is on hold until September.  The Food Bank box is still on my front steps at 39 Division Street, Port Colborne and great is our thanks to all who contribute!   If you’re in need of pastoral care, Rev. Larry is tending the sheepfold;  his cell number is 905-380-0484 with landline at 905-894-0484. 

So, rain or shine, keep safe and well!  Let us know any news of note that needs to be shared – birthdays, events, whatever.  Farewell, July;  onwards to August!

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
John Lubbock

Bits & Bites 15 July 2021
- Posted 2021-07-17 12:26:36

Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

William Shakespeare

Just about now (as I write) Rev. Adam will be on the airport shuttle, a first step on his long haul to Hungary for six weeks.  Last I saw of him, he was like a kid on Christmas Eve.  I think he has one whole suitcase devoted to toys for his nephew whom he will meet in person for the first time.  Gosh.  I’m getting excited just writing about it!  To say that, “our thoughts and prayers are with him,” would be an understatement;  also, “we’re looking forward to having you back”. 

In the meantime …

If you’re in need of Pastoral care, Rev. Larry (Beverly) is on call;  let the office know and the message will be passed along.  He’ll be doing most of the ‘supply’ through the holidays with the exception of Sunday #1 when ‘Brother’ Larry Fisher will be leading the flock. 

Rev. Adam may have gone fishin’ but we have a pretty full agenda – even considering it’s summer!

We’re recruiting.  George McKibbon is in charge of a new adventure for us;  we’re hoping to have a table at the Friday morning Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m. to noon throughout August (and a bit of July).  We’re working on making it look nice, and we need people who like to enthuse about The Gathering Place to help out.  We’ve got books and leaflets and a bit of a display in the works.  If you can contribute a few hours here and there, shoot George an email:  Mckibbongeorge@gmail.com

What will we be talking up?  You’ll be surprised …

First, the news we’ve been waiting for:  if we behave, and all goes well, the plan is to have our first in-person service on Sunday, September 12th!  “… For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)  It’s gonna be special!  It’s also going to kick off the other things in the works …

The Spiritual Direction series earlier this year was well worth doing … so we’re doing it again!  Learn how to form a ‘sense of the spiritual’, who you are and where you’re going, four evenings a week starting Tuesday,  September 14 at 7.00 p.m.

Then, how about a stroll in the country with good company?  There’s a mini-Pilgrimage being organized up Chippawa Road (scene of my childhood, and others at The GP) all the way to Bethel.  In the Bible, Bethel is where Jacob dozed off and climbed his ladder to heaven.  Not sure if the walk is rounded off with a nap but visions of heaven are a possibility.  The walk starts at the Main Street Tourism Centre (the Humberstone Township hall as was) on Saturday, October 2nd, 9.00 a.m.  

The news about the inhumanity of the Residential School system for First Nations children has rocked us – and rightly so.  I’ve previously sent out one email on the Presbyterian involvement and there’s more at www.presbyterian.ca to help you understand.  For those interested in going deeper, Ann McKibbon has found an on-line course from the University of Alberta – “Indigenous Canada”.  It’s free (or $60 if you want to take it as a credit course) and the idea is that we get a group together to do it together and meet weekly to discuss.  We’re taking names!

If you’re interested in any of these, shoot us an email (office@thegp.ca) and we’ll get you in the loop.

An update on our Refugees:  we’re on hold, awaiting news of our application to co-sponsor our Afghan family.  The Presbyterian National Office is helping us get all our papers in order so, ‘one more step along the world we go.’  If you’re interested in being part of the organizing team, let us know.

You’d never know we were slap-bang in the middle of the Dog Days of summer, would you, for all that we have in the works?  Get out your calendars and get those dates entered!  Got any news?  Drop us a line or give us a call.

Oh – and Happy Birthday and blessings to all our July babies.  I know Martin Bergerson is one – anyone else?

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

Bits and Bites, January 14, 2021
- Posted 2021-01-14 15:58:01

“With the new year comes a refueled motivation to improve on the past one.”

Gretchen Bleiler

So – it’s onwards and upwards to 2021. We do like a challenge!

And we shouldn’t say that 2020 was without its blessings, right? If nothing else, we proved how flexible we can be as The GP congregation.

We went digital almost overnight and now we have 50+ videos under our belt. There’ll be more: not only services, but more ‘Socials’, cooking shows, and … what else? You tell us; suggestions most welcome but you might find yourself in front of the camera or in the Director's Chair!

Bible Studies and Friday Morning Club Zoomed into action online. If you aren’t on the Rev’s email list for The Codes (a.k.a. Keys to the Kingdom) shoot him an email (minister@thegp.ca) or text/call him, 289-823-0580. Are you a Zoom newbie? He can even talk you through the set-up!

We opened up The GP when we could for downtown do’s – like the city’s BIA November shopping blitz - but closed up as needed to keep our community safe.

The Food Bank donation kept piling up and getting delivered. Jeanne has just taken our first load of 2021 over. 42 pounds! And I’ve already found a new bag in the box at 39 Division Street to kick off the next installment. Smart thinking, whoever left a bag full of Dove soap bars! They take a lot more than food over there, and it’s all appreciated.

We’ve even kept up our Givings so the Mission at home and abroad can rock on! I’ll be working on our tax receipts over the next few days so keep an eye out in the mail next month.

So, when all is said and done, “Well done, good and faithful servant(s): … enter into the joy of your lord.

Looking ahead …

Session has set the date of our Annual Meeting – Sunday, March 14th – and the plan is for it to be ‘in person’ at The Gathering Place. Think positive, people! So, for those report-writers among you, your deadline is February 7th. (Please please pretty please – by email, not on paper!) You know how cranky I get when they come in late … (add a smiley face here).

And things are still happening around & about us, again thanks to new technology.

The Port Colborne Historical Society is having a Zoom meeting next Monday evening – “Exploring Historical Niagara on YouTube”. Want to see the sights (and sites) from the comfort of your armchair? Join up – drop Beth Jeffery an email at bethj1948@gmail.com.

Which leaves us with your homework for this week … and if “the dog ate it” is your response, lucky puppy!

The Historical Society notice – as well as our cookery vids – reminded me of some work I used to do on a UNESCO Wales project. UNESCO has a cultural category called, “Intangible Heritage” – big words for things that people know or do, rather than what they build and make - sayings rather than sleighbells, recipes rather than railroads. Anyone remember the oatmeal-date sandwich cookies that Flo-on-the-go used to make for church do’s? My mum had the same recipe, and there’s a story to go with it. I’ll save that for later. Today’s question is, what other treasures should we be preserving, and telling stories about. On the recipe front, I think of Shirley’s Empire Cookies, maybe her coleslaw too. Mum always said that Presbyterians were about pie; Methodists were about cake. But it isn’t just about cooking. Whenever my dad saw old Alex McNay he would yell, “Scots wha’ ha’e!” and Mr McNay would yell back, “Wi’ Wallace bled!” Scottish roots, ya think?

Yeh – I know. New year. Look ahead. But if you look back in love and feel like sharing, please do!

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.”

Humphry Davy

Jane Thomas

905-932-1897

Bits and Bites, December 17, 2020
- Posted 2020-12-17 12:17:29

"May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve."

Anon.

There’s a bit of a buzz about the “Great Conjunction” coming up on December 21st – the first time that Jupiter and Saturn have been this close together in 800 years. Nice timing, and we might even get lucky and have clear(ish) skies. So look to the south west between 5.30 and 6.30 p.m. and think lovely thoughts about the first Christmas …

https://www.space.com/jupiter-saturn-moon-near-moon-great-conjunction-2020

Well, Christmas 2020 is almost upon us. Things are still up in the air about where we’ll be with Covid by this time next week. While you’re watching the skies for Great Conjunctions, watch your emails or Facebook for updates on how we will be worshipping together over the next few weeks.

As it currently stands, this coming Sunday (10.30 a.m. @ The Gathering Place) we’re welcoming The Treble Makers as our musical guests, and they’ll be setting the tone for a wonderful Christmas on our regular video service as well.

On Christmas Eve, there’ll be Communion – a traditional service offered in both traditional and virtual formats. The big news is the new ZOOM Communion at 7.00 p.m. You need to PRE-REGISTER for this so get in touch with Rev. Adam – minister@thegp.ca – and he’ll get you on the list for the entry codes. We’ll even deliver or mail out Communion packs (wafer + juice) if you get in touch … soon!

And there will also be Communion via our website video and for those who get the DVD version. In-person service? Well, at this precise moment, we’re planning to meet at 8.30 p.m. at The Gathering Place but … have you been following the News? It’s all a bit up in the air so keep checking your emails/Facebook for the latest or call 289 823 0580 (Rev. Adam) or me (905 932 1897).

There’s lots of news from The Gathering Place Video Productions going into the holidays! They’re up, or soon will be, on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWkgaMIDH2DB6ngVq2MQeMw

The first of our Christmas “Gather in the Kitchen” videos is up for your enjoyment. This one is “Appetizers” with Sheila & Sharon. We’re talking some serious “yum” here.

Two other cookery vids – main courses and sweet treats – are in post-production (hark at her, going all techno-speak) and should be up by next week as well as Christmas Fireside Fun, a follow-up to our autumn Campfire. Not sure if that’s a promise or a warning.

Plus the video services of course!

AND – Bonus Video – Linda Caldwell’s music students had been planning a little recital at Portal Village but … well, Covid. << boo – hiss >> Not daunted, they have done their Party Pieces on video and put it up on The GP Channel for all of us to enjoy. Gold stars to all concerned.

AND AND – we’re not the only ones taking our good works to the ether (what we used to call “the air waves”) Presbyterian World Service & Development have sent out a Christmas message; I’ll post it in a separate FaceBook message but they’d like us to pop in to www.werespond.ca when thinking about our Christmas charitable giving … or anytime, I would think. Please – a minute of your time …

Now, not to forget our regular items:

Our two Bible Study groups are on hiatus now until the 6th and 7th of January and Friday Morning Club as well, hopefully until the 8th?

Finally, the Food Bank welcomes your contributions either in the box at 39 Division Street or at their Nickel Street base. For that matter, take a second to look around your community: if you can provide a meal, or a cookie, or even a kind word by ‘phone, there are many as will be thankful to be on the receiving end.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.”

Dale Evans

“Happy trails to you”

also Dale Evans, via me

Have a Blessed Christmas & productive New Year!

Bits and Bites, December 3, 2020
- Posted 2020-12-03 12:13:49

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll

Well, I like snow, so I’m a happy bunny. Ask me again in February and I’ll say the same. (And I hear you all growling, “Famous last words, lady….”)

I had to have a Lewis Carroll quote to follow up on Rev. Adam’s most recent Message. I misled him on the video. Lewis Carroll didn’t actually write “Alice” at the Great Orme in North Wales; the girl who was the original “Alice” had her summer home there. Actually, some of you have been there, virtually, too if you saw an early Covid video of mountain goats wandering the streets of Llandudno at the Great Orme. It kinda went viral …

Anyway … people, we’re in Advent! We have cookies to bake, and glad tidings of Comfort & Joy (C&J) to deliver! We can offer up a big, “Thank you” to Georgia Smith who has put together goody bags of C&J to be dropped off for our seniors and home-bound, and a similar “thanks” to the Rev for the home delivery service.

I thanked Jeanne and Betty Lou in the last Bits & Bites for The GP’s lovely Christmas décor but I should also have thanked Marg Kerton who was part of the crew. I think Bob Shibley might have been pitching in as well – so a repeated and ongoing thanks for all that PLUS the setting up of our crèche. And let us not forget the cleaning crew; we might not be about in person as much but they’re still putting in the hours!

In fact, we’ll be using The GP a little bit less in the coming few weeks. For safety’s sake, Friday Morning Club has decided to go back on-line for the time being. Interested? Drop Rev Adam an email and he’ll get you all set up to join the gang on Zoom. Same goes for the Wednesday Bible Study group and the Thursday Ladies’ Bible Study; Rev. Adam holds the keys to all those kingdoms.

As of today, it’s 22 sleeps ‘til Christmas. I know you’ve got a lot on your minds but … this would be a Really Good Time to load your grocery cart with a few extras for the Food Bank. Drop it off here, at 39 Division St., or at the Centre on Nickel Street. Let’s get it stocked up in time to do the most good for the most people!

Not only food, either. The Give a Gift programme has been an annual project of Port Cares, providing low income parents and caregivers with free toys and gifts for the little ones in their lives – that’s around 100 kiddies who can look forward to Christmas morning. The project kicked off Tuesday but the Elves in the Port Cares workshop are still welcoming new, unwrapped toys, children's clothes, and gift cards for teenagers with open arms! (The Elves' open arms, that is. Well - the teenagers too, I guess.) Let’s help spread the C&J people; it’s all about the C&J.

So – I’ll either see you in person on Sunday at 10.30 a.m. or virtually at www.thegp.ca. If you can make it to The GP on Sunday, there’ll be a bit of an extra presentation that should be interesting! More later.

God rest you merry (and safe), and good tidings of Comfort & Joy to all.

“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
Vesta M. Kelly

Bits and Bites, November 19, 2020
- Posted 2020-11-20 09:27:19

“No matter how brief an encounter you have with anybody, you both change.”

Carolyn Kizer

This is definitely going to be a brief encounter by Bits’ & Bites’ usual standards; just a quick fly-past as there are a lot of things in the wind for Christmas but not quite ready to go public.

One biggie: if you want to join the team for either the Christmas Fireside video (like our Campfire but, well, Christmassy) or our video cooks/bakers, give me a call on 905-932-1897. I’m running a bit behind schedule as I had a cold last week and ended up getting Covid tested. Gotta tell you: easy peasy. If in doubt, check it out. My results were online by next morning (“negative”, please note) so I put my feet up, drank hot tea with lemon & honey for a day or two and all is now well. Another brief encounter!

Our Bible Study groups are still Zooming along, Wednesday mornings for the mixed bag and, on Thursday, the Ladies. You’ll need the entry code so make sure you’re on Rev. Adam’s email list. And feel free to bring a friend!

Friday Morning Club gets together in person on Friday mornings – all hinging on the current state of Covid affairs, of course.

And big thanks to Betty Lou and Jeanne for Decking our Halls last week so we could open for the Downtown Open House on the weekend. Thanks to all who formed the welcoming committee and particularly to The Treble Makers for their Saturday mini-concerts! I’ll see if I can post some video of them to get you in the Christmas spirit!

Oh – and you might note that the Food Bank box on my front steps is temporarily out of commission. Memo to self: next hurricane, bring the box in for the night. So, I’ll be picking up a replacement in the next few days and we’ll be back in business. (And if anyone finds any more bits of shattered blue plastic in the Forest/Division Street area, do pick them up and toss them in your recycling, won’t you?)

A bit of news to close – maybe not ‘excellent’ but moving in the direction of ‘good’. Word from Faythe Bannerman in Alberta is that her daughter is picking up though still in critical care. Faythe herself seems in pretty good spirits; she’ll be staying out in the Land of Ice & Snow (2” she says!) until April can travel back to Ontario. So – as if we weren’t already looking forward to 2021 … ! Thoughts & Prayers, people!

Keep safe, keep well, & God bless!

“This is not a letter, but my arms around you for a brief moment.”

Katherine Mansfield

Bits and Bites, October 29, 2020
- Posted 2020-10-31 12:51:17

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Scottish traditional prayer

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that little prayer this time of year – a real piece of the Scottish Presbyterian tradition, I guess! Just curious: were you one of those things that went bump in the night in your neighbourhood? I suspect my mother and her siblings were right little terrors in their time.

Considering it’s a festival known for weird stuff, this one is going to be even weirder and, on top of that, we’ll be putting our clocks back an hour, remember? Just what we want: an extra hour of 2020! Never mind. We’ve got lots of things to get done over the next couple of months …

Word is that The GP Studio Productions are focusing the camera lens on Christmas now that Thanksgiving is done and dusted. We’ve got a couple of ideas that maybe you’d like to help with.

Any bakers or cooks out there? I know: silly question. Now that Sharon Beverly has taught us how to make just about the best S’mores EVER, we thought we’d do a little series of Christmas treats. I’m going to do the one recipe I said I’d never share. (Tune in to find out.) I’ve got a few other cooks with their thinking caps on. So, who else is in? Call me (905-932-1897) and I’ll tell you all you need to know! Easy as pie. Ooo, pie! Anyone want to do pie?

And now that the smoke from our Campfire has faded away, we’re working on a little Christmas number – readings, carols, and generally getting into the holiday Spirit. You can be one of Santa’s (that is: Adam’s) Little Helpers by pitching in. Send him (Adam, not Santa) an email – minister@thegp.ca – and get on his Nice list! You’re all on his Nice list anyway. You know that’s how he is!

A lot of Port people were especially nice this past weekend, it appears. The Lions Food Drive for Port Cares came up with an amazing $6695 in monetary donations and – wowza! – 22,672.3 pounds of food. Well done Port Colborne Lions & Lionesses, Optimists, Fire & Emergency Services, Christian Life Assembly, and absolutely everyone who contributed. Let’s keep the good deeds rolling; the Food Bank box is still on my front steps at 39 Division Street, and the need is still great …

And while we’re on the topic of Need, Canadian Blood Services are holding a Donation day on Friday, November 13th from 2.00 to 7.00 p.m. at the Christian Life Assembly. You have to do it ‘by appointment’ so you can sort one out at https://myaccount.blood.ca/en; they still have places for 20 donors. Maybe they should have held it on Hallowe’en; we could all show up dressed as vampire. Maybe next year.

Life in general goes ahead at The GP – both ‘in person’ and in cyberspace. The Bible Study groups are still meeting virtually via Zoom and love to see new faces! Want to join either the mixed group (Wednesday mornings) or the Ladies group (Thursday mornings), or know anyone who might like to look in? Rev Adam can get you all set up – minister@thegp.ca

And Adam still has the coffee on – in person – at The GP every Friday morning. Put on your mask, give your hands a wash, and come on over!

Other than that, there’s not a lot of news except … Linda Caldwell is on the mend and getting good marks from her doctors. If all goes well, she’ll be packing in her wheely-walker next week and graduating to a cane, so this is for her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmqfZ0k2mxQ

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Audrey Hepburn

Jane Thomas

Bits and Bites, October 1, 2020
- Posted 2020-10-01 14:19:00

“In October, a maple tree before your window lights up your room like a great lamp. Even on cloudy days, its presence helps to dispel the gloom.”

John Burroughs

Moses had a burning bush and we have our maple trees – it’s like having the Presbyterian emblem right outside our windows, isn’t it? Looks like it’s going to be a lovely autumn – Happy October 1st! Happy International Coffee Day, World Vegetarian Day, International Day of Older Persons (yay!) and National Seniors Day (double yay!) Who knew?

We have lots to look forward to this week.

Sunday is World Communion Sunday and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to taking part. Yes, we’re still getting the video versions out on YouTube or on DVD. Get yourself organized at home with a drink and some bread and follow along. OR … join the team at The Gathering Place and try out the nifty new Communion packets; a double-decker pre-packed affair with wafer on top, juice below, all set out for you on your chair, ready. Or, at least, for the first 30 to show up – we’re still operating within government guidelines. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! (And if you want some for home, let us know SOON and we’ll drop one/some off for you.)

The Bible Study groups are rolling along via Zoom on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I know you know all about getting your entry codes from Rev Adam (minister@thegp.ca) but … have a think: do you know anyone else who might want to try it out? The door is – figuratively speaking – open so feel free to mention it.

Tomorrow’s Friday Morning Club is an in-person affair and the coffee’s hot from around 9.30 a.m. or so. Pop in ‘specially’ or call round after you’ve been to market – catch up on the news!

One bit of news is that Linda Caldwell, at last report, is doing just dandy following her knee op. She’s in Shaver Hospital for a day or two of rehab and will be coming home to Port; family is lined up to get her bouncing back into good health. She might not be doing the Lindy Hop anytime in the near future but she should be mobile before long. ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ eh, people? And big thanks, again, to Sheila Brown for tickling the ivories for us in Linda’s absence.

Good news from the Jennings tribe: Jessica, mother of Hayden, has bought Bremfield’s, moving from “super star baker/manager” to Owner! Congratulations, Jess, and … lucky boy, Hayden! Your mom owns a Bakery! Wow! Another good reason to keep our heads down and get through this Covid-thing: we have a group visit to Bremfield’s to arrange!

I know I mentioned it in Saturday’s email, and I know we still have Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en to get through but … you do know that, as of today, it’s 85 days ‘til Christmas? I only mention it because the Gifts of Change catalogue (https://presbyterian.ca/gifts-of-change/) is online and you know how you hate leaving these things to the last minute … Just sayin’.

And, while you’re there, you might also like to take a peek at the Daily Prayer Mission Moment Calendar (https://presbyterian.ca/wp-content/uploads/Daily_Prayer_Mission_Moment_Calendar_June-Sep-2020_Print_HR.pdf) as mentioned last Sunday.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in their moments of stardom for the Campfire and gentle reminders to those who are still ‘in the process’. I’ll be stitching all the bits together starting Sunday so … hopefully I’ll have something ready for your Thanksgiving Weekend Viewing Pleasure – maybe not all glitzy Broadway, but it should provide a laff or two and a chance to be together, virtually.

So – That’s All Folks, at least for now. Stay safe, stay well, and God bless!

“October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.”

Hal Borland

Bits and Bite July 15, 2020
- Posted 2020-07-16 15:35:01

Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.

Regina Brett

Amen to all of the above! The last thing I do at night before going to bed is sit out on the front steps for a few minutes of being grateful. I now have a favourite star (Antares) and a new understanding with the neighbourhood skunk. See what permission to be lazy can do for you? I highly recommend it.

OK – I know that daytime laziness these days has more to do with Covid 19 but, as Rev. Adam reminded us recently, we should try to be a glass-half-full kind of person so …

Hurrah! Life Zooms on with Bible Studies on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. If you get Bits & Bites you’re probably getting the Secret Code directly from Rev Adam by email. BUT maybe you know someone who isn’t in the loop yet. Have a word in their ear and tell them to let us know they want to join the Merry Band(s): office@thegp.ca. And they’ll get Bits & Bites too!

Now – we’re still hedging our bets as far as the Sunday Service is concerned. Session put a marker down for September 13th but that’s still a Moveable Feast.

In the meantime, we’re borrowing a great idea from our colleagues at the Be In Christ Church on Hwy. #3… We’ve been fretting about our off-line friends who can’t access the YouTube services so we’re taking on board BIC’s great idea of portable DVD players! We’ve bought a flock of them and we’re busy copying the service onto discs then … Release the Doves!

We think we know who will be wanting one but, if we’ve missed anyone, let us know. I might mention, in passing, that this has incurred some expenditure and should you wish to sponsor a Player … all donations gratefully received!

As usual, deep and sincere thanks to all you who have been keeping up with your Givings as well as the Food Bank donations. Must say – I am SO impressed! Remember – the Food Bank box is at 39 Division Street!

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

Lao Tzu

Bits and Bites May 28, 2020
- Posted 2020-05-28 19:11:36

“Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.”

Isaac Newton

 

 

Enjoying the heat?  What I can’t understand is how you can mow the lawn and, by the end of the day, you have dandelion clocks standing a foot off the ground.  I suppose this, too, “did not happen by chance.” 

 

It’s Bible Study day today with the Ladies Bible Study poised and ready to roll tomorrow (Thursday, May 28th)  And Rev. Adam invites you all for a virtual coffee at Friday’s Coffee Lounge.  Shoot us a quick email if you’re not being sent the links to connect and we’ll send you the password.  I’m tempted to say, “knock three times and ask for The Godmother,” but I won’t. 

 

Gotta tell ya’ – I got that mobster name from the Gangster mob name generator at themobmuseum.org by entering “Gathering Place” as my actual name.  Spooky or what?

 

It’s time again for The Leader’s “Readers Choice” Awards and The Gathering Place has been nominated!  Woot!  Want to vote?  You have until June 14th to get it done here:   https://www.niagarathisweek.com/readerschoice-portcolborne/categories/professional-services/subcategories/church-temple  I’d say, “Voter Early & Vote Often” in the grand Tammany Hall tradition (am I showing my age?) but that seems to be discouraged.  For some reason. 

 

And just to show that we are, indeed, worth a vote of confidence, remember that we need helpers for  Out of the Cold (it’s now a take-out service) on June 9th or 16th.  Get in touch with the Beverlys if you can help:  905-894-0484  or  lbeverly@cogeco.ca  or sbeverly@cogeco.ca 

 

The way things are going, “Out of the Cold” might do better with a summer name.  “Pick Up Some Luv”?  Maybe not.  Send your improvements!

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere …

 

Do remember the Baby Bottle Bank Campaign South Niagara Life Ministries is back! SNLM joins the Christian communities taking to the internet to carry on its good work.  You can show your support at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/48625  Or get in touch with The GP and I’ll get you a print version of their donation info. 

 

 

So – Ladies’ Bible Study tomorrow, Friday Coffee Lounge, Sunday Service…  Who has time to be bored? 

 

Keep safe, keep well, don’t get sun burn, and God bless!

 

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

Bits and Bites May 20, 2020
- Posted 2020-05-20 16:44:32

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman

Enjoying the sun on our faces certainly ain’t the same thing as quietly basking like turtles.  In fact, we seem to be making hay while the sun shines, and leaving Covid in the dark corner.

Viewing figures are one thing, but we know lots ‘n’ lots of you people watched Sunday’s webcast service to the bitter (sweet) end.  How?  Cuz Rev Adam was swamped with Birthday Wishes on Tuesday!  He’s almost forgiven us for ambushing him at the end of the video … but he brought it on himself by ambushing Linda the previous Sunday.  Good thing we haven’t worked out how to edit videos yet!  It’s more fun this way! 

Oh – and Happy Birthday to all the other May Babies … and there are quite a lot of you.  A special shout-out to our own Shirley Minou who turned 39 (again) recently.  Your secret is safe with us, Shirl!

Many of us are hardly twiddling our thumbs on the home front.  Mask-making, delivering meals-on-wheels, passing the peace by phone, and – in Larry Fisher’s case – taking to creative writing.  He’s gifting us his “Teaching Moments” which you can download by clikicng here https://www.thegp.ca/downloads/Collection_of_Teaching_moments.pdf for your reading pleasure!  Kudos, and thanks, Larry!

The Bible Studies are still Zzzzoooom-ing along.  It’s Ladies’ Bible Study tomorrow.  If you aren’t getting the Invitation with all the entrance info, give us a shout and Rev. Adam will get you fixed up.  Or if you’re feeling techno-confident, join in here, https://zoom.us/j/96458928187?pwd=aThlOGh6TEQ5WHVSRm9QdjRveVNFQT09 with the snappy password “655270”.  Kinda rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?

The Friday Morning Coffee Lounge is another room to Zoom in on.  Put the kettle on and join us.  Not getting the email from Rev Adam?  Let us know and we’ll get you signed up.

It isn’t all “sunny ways” for all God’s childrun though.  Bravo, Out of the Cold organizers who have extended the meal service on a carry-out basis to the end of June.  Can you help on June 9th or 16th?  Larry and Sharon Beverly are waiting to hear from you, by May 25th please.  Get in touch: 

905-894-0484  or  lbeverly@cogeco.ca  or sbeverly@cogeco.ca  They’ve got the whole physical distancing thing worked out and the kitchen runs like clockwork – join the team!

Meanwhile, elsewhere …

South Niagara Life Ministries Baby Bottle Bank Campaign is back! Taking to the ether, SNLM has set itself up with Canada Helps to support people with unplanned pregnancies.  Every donation is life changing – and you can now become a supporter on-line at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/48625  Not big on the on-line bit?  Just get in touch with The GP and I’ll get you a print version of their donation info. 

It’s too nice for homework and, apparently, school’s out for summer anyway so I have another story from the First Presbyterian archives…

I’m told that the Sanctuary at 176 Elm Street used to have the pulpit off to one side instead of in the smack-dab centre.  The organ was the same, with that nice carved screen tucking the organist out of sight, and those big gold pipes loomed over us all on the front wall.  Remember?  Well, it must have been in the late 1940s when a teenager of the parish (name provided if accompanied by a generous donation to the Music fund) heard that those pipes were fake, so he thought he would check them out.  Climbing up on the choir pew after Youth Club one night, he lifted the big centre one and – yep – fake.  They were loosely ‘encouraged’ to stay in place by large, upright nails driven into the ledge that went up the centre but not attached to anything but the ledge.  And a nail is just a nail.  Hearing someone coming, he hastily dropped the pipe down, more or less in place, and ducked out.  I repeat:  more or less, with the emphasis on the less.  So – Sunday.  Everyone in their best Bib & Tucker, respectfully ready for the Service, and the organ struck up, presumably enthusiastically, because it vibrated the ledge. The precariously positioned pipe teetered, tottered, lunged forward, hit the back of the organist’s screen, did an almighty back-flip, and landed smack down the centre aisle.  I believe the Sunday School and Young People sat at the front of the church and, according to my mother, they thought this was the best thing since sliced bread.  Except for one, of course, who rather expected to get struck down by the next available bolt of lightning.  As a post-script, I would add that they’re all gone now, but the sister of the Accused denied to the end that this involved her brother.  But – my mother told me …

Enjoy the sunshine.  Keep safe, keep well, and God Bless.

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully

when we allow the unexpected to happen.”

Paulo Coelho

Bits and Bites May 14, 2020
- Posted 2020-05-14 19:39:34

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

Victor Hugo

 

Is it too early to say we’re finding our groove in these rather unsettling times?  We haven’t  blown up any of our new techno-toys (yet) and the on-line Services are drawing in a crowd!  Rev. Adam and Team Telephone are keeping us connected and the Food Bank drop off is still open for contributions on my front steps (39 Division St).  The Bible Study, Ladies Bible Study, and Friday Morning Coffee Lounge are Zooming to great effect every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning.  You can get the “invitation” required from Rev Adam – minister@thegp.ca – and he can help you get set up as well.

 

Thanks to everyone for navigating The Great Givings Maze!  The new Donation button on our website – www.thegp.ca – seems to work for Visitors and more than a few of us are coming to grips with the Interac e-transfer gizmo on our online banking.  But the Old Ways are still the Best Ways for lots of people.  Remember, you can always drop a cheque off at The GP mail box or you can bring cheques or cash around to Linda Caldwell or myself at home. 

 

Buttons, buttons, who’s got the buttons?  The ear-saver makers send their thank-you’s to those who have dug out their button boxes and contributed to the cause.  I think we’ve even had one or two people offer to help make the Mask Mates – which is a very good thing.  The group is churning them out as requests come in by the hundreds from across Canada so if you can contribute, or crochet (or knit or sew) or even stitch on buttons, don’t be backward about coming forward!

 

I gotta be honest:  I don’t have a whole lot of bits or bites for you this week but I did come across something a bit mind-boggling as we set up for this Sunday’s e-Service. 

 

So – Linda’s chosen a BIG favourite for one of our hymns:  How Great Thou Art.  Woot!  So – there I go searching for the words on-line so we can get them up with the video and I come across the background to the words.  Get this:

 

The original poem was written by a Swede in Sweden, then translated into German by an Estonian (who died later in Brazil).  It became popular in Germany, then translated into Russian so it took off in Russia.  A professor in Illinois translated it into English but it didn’t catch on.  Then an English Methodist missionary (who was raised Salvation Army) heard it in Russian in the Ukraine and translated it into English and added a couple of his own verses.  He returned to England to work in a Polish refugee camp and published a Russian gospel magazine which took it to Africa and India. (Honest.  I’m not making this up.)  A Mennonite missionary there transcribed a version of it that was being sung by a tribal choir in Assam (India) which was picked up by a Californian theologian and brought to the USA.  Manna Music – founded by a former member of “The Sons of the Pioneers” – published it and it came to the attention of the Billy Graham Crusades when they were visiting England in 1954.  And, of course, then George Beverly Shea scooped it up and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

Well, I thought that was a real trip and a half!  Side note:  it was originally nine verses long.  Great hymn but nine verses plus chorus must have made for a reeeeaaaaallly long service.

 

So, in the absence of anyone doing their homework (again: teacher’s scowl) I shall pack in for now and get to work on Sunday’s service. "See" you then!

 

Keep safe, keep well, and God Bless.

 

“Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.”

Doug Larson

Bits and Bites May 6, 2020
- Posted 2020-05-13 16:47:34

Whatever your cause, whatever your motivation, I hope you'll agree with me

that volunteer service is an extraordinary gift.

Neil Bush

 

I’m just guessing but, for the Christian, volunteering is one of those things that you file under, “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide”.  I’ll even bet that the Theologians among us will give us chapter and verse on the subject.  Jonah springs to mind.

 

But volunteering can be a real pick-me-up as well, particularly in times like these.  A few things come to mind, and we’d love to hear of others.

 

When you’re out doing your weekly shopping, all masked and sanitized, pick up a few bits and bobs for the Food Bank and drop them off at 39 Division Street, Port Colborne.  Jeanne Grimes and I are taking a big boxful over tomorrow so Well Done all contributors!  Cheque writing more your style?  We’ll deliver them for you too.

 

Keep that Peace a-passing!  Pick up the phone and check up on someone.  Gossip.  Do you know where that word comes from?  It’s Old English; literally ‘a person related to one in God’.  So, get dialling!  If you’re feeling really adventurous, I suppose you could dial random numbers and see who you get.  Hmmm.  Do let us know how that works out for you …  Not sure we have any funds to post bail.

 

I hear lots of people are using the time to deep clean.  Not me.  I don’t do that kinda stuff.  But if you’re so inclined, have you come across any old button boxes or mason jars full of buttons?  An amazing project has sprung up in Sherkston organizing people who crochet, knit, or sew “Mask Mates” – I think I mentioned them last week.  If they needed buttons last week, they’re DESPERATE this week.  They’ve only been going two weeks and they’ve had orders from all over Canada!  They’ve even had some from California and Washington, D.C.!  An order from Toronto for 2000 meant 4000 buttons!  So, if you have some – flat back, 5/8-1”, 2 or 4 hole – buttons, let me know or slide on over to their Facebook page:  “Mask Mate Ear-savers for Essential Workers”.  Mary Pat brought me some yesterday – Thanks!  And if you can do some making, better still.  (I can do two per episode of Coronation Street.  Top that!)

 

It seems we’re really showing our mettle these days, technology-wise.  The Zoom meetings of Bible Study, Ladies Bible Study, and Friday Morning Coffee Club are THE place to be on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays!  Want to get on board, Li’l Children?  (Sorry – gospel songs are my weakness.)  Email Rev. Adam (minister@thegp.ca) and he’ll get you set up.  Bring a friend!

 

And Big Thanks to everyone who has been getting their Givings in by Interac, cheques – even cash, which you can drop off to me or Linda Caldwell.  PayPal is also up and running although best for casual visitors as we do pay a commission on those. 

 

The online video Services are rockin’ (warts & all)!  Last Sunday chalked up 79 YouTube ‘hits’!  I guess we’ve got God on our side!

 

So.  Homework.  I’m guessing this was never your strong point, ever.  Cuz I ain’t been overwhelmed with responses.  Not being one to give up, I offer you a song.

 

Remember I asked if you could think of any songs that weren’t written as Praise Songs but could have been?  Well, I met a Nova Scotia folk singer at Mariposa in 2015 – Dave Gunning.  He had been given a ukulele for Christmas by his wife and children and, as he tells it, they went to bed at the end of the day leaving him and the dog to learn how to play it.  The two of them wrote this song which I would quite happily sing praising God:  https://davegunning.bandcamp.com/track/to-be-with-you

 

And, speaking of not hearing from people:  hey, you readers from other churches, wazzup?  How are you keeping busy?  I haven’t had much for, “Meanwhile, elsewhere” in a long time!  We’re all in this together!

 

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless!

 

Everyone has the potential to become an encourager.

You don't have to be rich. You don't have to be a genius.

You don't have to have it all together.

All you have to do is care about people and initiate.

John C. Maxwell

Bits and Bites April 30, 2020
- Posted 2020-04-30 16:06:17

 “Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. 

It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.”

Bruce Garrabrandt

 

Well – there’s a Quote for Our Times, right?  So far, that’s been right up our street!  Whether we’re making YouTube services on cell phones, Bible Study on Zoom, masks out of our fabric ‘stash’, or pastoral ‘visits’ by phone, we’re adapting!  Maybe even thriving a wee bit?

 

The Bible Studies Zzzoooom-ed  (or is that ‘re-zooomed’?) into action this week to the delight of all.  Guess it’s a “Go” for next week so, if you didn’t get the email for Logging-In, let us know and we’ll get you on board. 

 

Friday we’ll be videoing Sunday’s Service – our second venture using our new techno-goodies.  (OK – third if you count the sound glitch last week which meant a second taping.)  We’ve also added, through the Wonders of Modern Technology, a “Donate” button to our website, www.thegp.ca , which will take PayPal-ers straight to their electronic pocket-books.  Or you can do the Interac etransfer thing from your bank. OR the good old cheque in the mail box – always a winner.  You know that all contributions are very gratefully received!

 

Speaking of Donations, thanks to all the fairies, leprechauns, and similar who have been leaving Food Bank contributions on my doorstep (39 Division Street).  One in particular was particularly ‘sweet’:  a whopping big tin of plum tomatoes … and, lying across the top, a Crispy Crunch chocolate bar.  There we go – someone with their priorities straight!  We’ve pretty well got our first load ready to deliver so keep it up, friends!

 

Sometimes connections are made in the oddest of circumstances.  One of our Techno-wizards, Joe, brought his wife to help set up our widgets.  Apparently, she’s started an art project for their church, Heritage Green, which she’s happy to share.  https://www.facebook.com/IsolationCreationStation/?__cft__[0]=AZVi45yLtB9koLMn_O55FetopKQCLpi9XKFBhhTAvKkDzGE5IIi-bV6l4KlS_aTZXYnsrwe8-c4UF9jc4aAa0RE149BRtR-d5NGPDc6eAjNvg1EsTZw4OQR1meZOXRd5nD2NZxEbNFDw1sajS8YtBLzu&__tn__=H-R  Great!  You can try it out in the privacy of your own home and if your “Sunset Balloons” look more like a bunch of grapes, who’s to know?

 

Remember, too, that we have our handicrafters working away at making masks.  If you can help, step up!  If you have any knicker elastic (as per our last Bits & Bites) the ¼” stuff is GOLD, I tell you!  All contributions gratefully received.  And you might have heard about “Mask Mates”, little knit/crocheted/sewn strips that go with masks.  Apparently your ears can get a bit sore from the elastic if you wear them at length so these little doo-dads let you keep your ears safe.  There’s a local group churning them out in the hundreds (and getting orders for thousands!) but they need a) crafters and b) buttons!  If you can help, let us know, or Lori, here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/691510351677835/?hc_ref=ARQ6I50fT0BXEkXOui81jSnEvQeCaK8Qc0hqWi-T3TGB5DDJhjKm5B-17Ak6L0_X-MI 

 

I haven’t been overwhelmed by people getting their homework in.  (I’ve got my scowly-teacher face on here.)  Neither the church stories nor the songs that could-be-praise-songs-but-aren’t-yet.  But I do have one more story – this one from community dynamo Marilyn Williams of Morgan’s Point United Church:

 

“In the 70's and 80's I worked at City Hall in Port Colborne and someone mentioned there were noon hour services every day one week in January.  They are now called Week of Prayers for Christian Unity - I am not sure what they were called then - perhaps the same.   As they were at noon, I decided to go each day.  I recall sitting in the plush chairs in the Ladies Lounge where it was held then, and listening to the speakers and music. Particularly the music from singers of that era like Shirley Pettit,  Doreen Henry, Audrey Sevenpifer, and Sue Weaver.  I remember rushing there and rushing to get back to work on time and also try to be part of the fellowship which included sandwiches and squares back then.  I guess the soup and using the hall came later on as its popularity grew.  Your church kept that tradition faithfully for over 40 years, and I haven't missed too many of them during that time.   I did miss them this year though,  as they were not held,  but I'm hoping this wonderful tradition will be back next year.”

 

Awww. ; Thanks, Marilyn.   

 

And I guess a lot of us are thinking forward.  It’s going to be a proper carnival when we bust loose, I reckon.  Here are a couple of things we might want to get down in our diaries, even if we don’t have actual dates for them.

 

The Port Colborne Museum has two exhibits just waiting for the Starter’s Pistol, both of interest to Presbyterians.  “Judging” looks at “the remarkable career of Helen Kinnear” (there’s a song in that somewhere).  And “Misener Family’s Shipping  Business” goes back over a century to Capt. Scott Misener’s early investments.  I’ve always thought that the big window at 176 Elm should be a City Treasure so let’s get at least a photo included!

 

So – “see you” Sunday in spirit if not face-to-face.  And, if your singing voice is ready for a bit more than hymns, why not get out on your front steps at noon and belt out “Oh Canada”.  As they say at canadatogether.com, we are in this together.

 

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless.

 

“Alone we can do so little;  together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

Bits and Bites April 22, 2020
- Posted 2020-04-25 15:21:48

How did it get so late so soon?

Its night before its afternoon.

December is here before its June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?

Dr. Seuss

 

I think it might be Wednesday.  I’m going to work on that assumption but I’m not gonna put any money on it.

 

Monday morning Rev. Adam decided it was Monday but by evening he thought it was Tuesday so he put The GP garbage out for Wednesday morning.  Got a bit wind-blown but, fortunately, we were in on (the real) Tuesday and brought it in again.

 

I’m assuming we’re not the only ones getting a bit muddled these days?

 

As I said, we – Rev. A., Jo’Anna, and m’self were in Tuesday to train on our NEW (WOOT!) camera and sundries for proper videoing of our Services.  And, yes, we were physically distanced.  In fact, the tutor, Joe from Stoney Creek, was very distanced.  He was training us from there, and we were sitting in front of our own computers soaking it all up.  I hope.  Time will tell. 

 

We’ll be trying it out – God willing! – on Friday when we’ll be recording for Sunday.  And there’ll be a Guest Artist (sounds grander if you say it like the French do:  “ar-TEEST”) in our next edition.  That’s all I’m saying.

 

Thinking longer term, anyone fancy being a part of the Tech Team?  We’re all starting at square one and it could be a Great Adventure!  Just think – when it’s your turn at the helm, you’re in control of all the close-ups and sound levels.  Although … “great power should be used lightly”.  Right?  Let us know if we can tempt you to the Team!

 

Thanks to those who have dropped off Food Bank contributions in the box on my front steps (at 39 Division St., Port Colborne).  It all helps!

 

Have you joined the band of masked marauders yet?  Do you want to, or need to?  A few of us are making masks and have some to give away.  Remember:  they’re about keeping others protected from you, not you from them.  Any sewers willing to help?  I’ve got a fair stash of fabric for you.  Weirdly, my main problem at present is getting what the Brits refer to as knicker elastic – 1/4” to 1/2” elastic.  I’ve used up my stash so if you come across any, do let me know.  Shortages of toilet paper, flour, yeast, frozen veggies I’m kinda used to by now.  Knicker elastic?  Did NOT see that coming.

 

UPDATE!  Fabricland just called and my order  - placed Friday - is in!  When I cautiously whispered, "... WITH the elastic?" she laughed.  I guess this is the Aztec Gold of seamstresses at present.  So, I'm doing the curb-side pick-up thing in my assigned time slot at which point I shall be elasticized.  If you need some, let me know!  And if you've already offered me some, I'll still be pleased to relieve you of yours.  It won't last long!  (But I'll make it stretch.)  (Yuk, yuk.)

 

Here’s some new homework for you.  Who’s seen the film “Sister Act”?  OK – easier question, “Who HASN’T seen the film “Sister Act”?  I loved the way they sang pop songs – “My Guy”, “I will follow Him”, etc. – that you would NEVER have listened to with a church ‘ear’ … but they worked!  So here’s your task:  what pop songs do you think could also be Praise songs?  I’ll find them on YouTube and get them up on our Facebook page.  This otta be fun…

 

And here’s a bit from a previous bit of homework.  Joseph Bowman again: 

 

“Another one that my mother told me (from long before I was born, or even before my parents were married), I think the way my mom told it was that Rev. Rutherdale was preaching and said: "Isn't that right, Reg?" (referring to Mr. Steeves)... and Mr. Steeves had apparently dozed off at the organ and was jolted awake and started playing a hymn (that story is foggy). Apparently after that happened, during the sermon Mr. Steeves would close the lid of the organ in case he dozed off at the organ, which he did from time to time, so I am told from old (all now deceased) members of the senior choir.”

 

One thing about having just a piano at The GP, Linda can’t doze off without falling off her perch!

 

So, ‘see’ you Sunday.  Keep passing that Peace around by phone, email, texting, or standing on your front porch and yelling.  It’s all good. 

 

Keep safe, keep well, and God bless.

 

 

“A thing is mighty big when time and distance cannot shrink it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

 

 

Jane Thomas

Administration

(from home)

905 834 4441

Bits and Bites April 15, 2020
- Posted 2020-04-16 21:50:40

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
William Penn

 

So – how is everybody?  I’m never again going to complain about how rowdy you lot can be;  you are missed!

 

All is still quiet over at The Gathering Place except for the times we ‘shoot’ our new Worship videos.  Palm Sunday took 12 tries, Maundy Thursday took 4, and we did Easter in 2!  It was just as busy as Easter Week usually is but a lot more nerve-wracking!

 

And didn’t our floral angel (a.k.a. Betty Lou) do a lovely job with our set décor!?

 

BIG THANKS to all who are still getting their Givings in.  Kudos to the growing group who seem to have got their heads around Interac e-Transfers, and assurances to those who are dropping cheques off in our mail box:  we clear it regularly so all is good!  If neither of those appeal to you, drop us an email or call/text me on 905 932 1897 and we’ll arrange a pick-up.  A safe one.  You know – leave an envelope in a hollow tree trunk at midnight sort of thing. 

 

While we’re thanking, let’s have a round of applause for Team Telephone, led by Rev. Adam, for checking up on us all.  We can all help spread the joy actually.  We can’t offer the Peace of Christ face to face these days but, as Linda suggested on Sunday, we can take a minute to phone someone this week and Pass the Peace that way.  Joy.  Peace.  It brings to mind that Sunday Rev. Adam wanted us to sing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy…” and we taught him the tongue-twisting verse, “I’ve got the Peace that Passeth understanding…”  Then Rick remembered the last verse, “And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can go fly a kite.”  Oh, what we get up to when we’re together!  Pity our poor teachers when we were kids, eh?

 

Which brings me to today’s story.  Remember I set you some homework?  Well, I did actually get a few stories in (and am open to more if you think of some).  This one is from Gail Kenney:

 

I have a story not from the Presbyterian Church but from my days as a children's program leader.

I was teaching the story of Noah to a group of 3 to 5 year olds and we were re-enacting the flood.  I had the kids go into our plastic play structure. With a little imagination it could look like the ark.  While the kids were in the structure after they loaded all the animals and Noah and his family were safely on board.   The wind started blowing and I told the kids the rain was going to come.  One little girl, Grace,  started to cry.  When I asked her why she was so upset and if I had frightened her with the pretend  wind and rain, she said "no.  I don't want to get my barrets wet."

 

Yep.  If you’ve ever taught Sunday School, you’ve had one of them in your class, right? 

 

Anyway, I’m still accepting stories.  I’ve got a few left but could use more – sort of an unofficial archive of the congregation to date.  If you don’t feel like writing them down, give me a call and I’ll do it for you.

 

It’s hard not to think of the things that stay un-done while we’re out of The GP.  The Food Bank is one of them so I’m going to leave a big box out on my front steps, behind the flower urn.  If you’re passing (39 Division Street, south west corner of Steele Street School) feel free to drop off some goodies and I’ll get them to where they’re needed.  One thing:  please keep the lid on!  I have wild life:  various birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, ‘possums, skunks, racoons, foxes, and coyotes from what I’ve seen so far.  I’ll bring the box in at night but … lead them not into temptation, OK?

 

Our next ‘shoot’ (“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille”) is on Friday and we have some crackin’ good hymns for Sunday – “This joyful Eastertide” and “Thine be the glory”.  There aren’t too many good things about being apart but at least you can BELT out the hymns and not worry about what notes get slaughtered in the process – REJOICE! 

 

 

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

Eleonora Duse

Jane Thomas

905 932 1897

The Gathering Place during and after the Covid 19 Pandemic
- Posted 2020-04-07 23:27:42

The Gathering Place during and after the Covid 19 Pandemic[i]

Today, at the end of March 2020, Ontario is experiencing rapidly growing numbers with Covid 19. As of early Palm Sunday Niagara has identified 35 new cases. Non-essential travel has ceased. The pandemic will impact our social, economic and physical community relationships. How will faith communities respond to this leviathan?

Four actions can inform us as we respond: actions based on the facts of the disease; story telling; reflection on the pain and trauma involved with Covid 19; and decision-making process design that addresses each of these considerations.

First, public health professionals have analyzed how Covid 19 spreads throughout our communities. Their work is an excellent example of evidence-based analysis and practice! They made recommendations on appropriate responses as epidemiological researchers strive for understanding of the disease and other researchers search for vaccines and better treatments. Social spacing and self-quarantining are the immediate measures needed to keep infections at a level which doesn’t overwhelm the health care system. These evidence-based practices form the basis of our immediate response to this pandemic no matter how difficult these may be to implement: saving and nourishing life is fundamental.

Less well thought out, and more difficult to analyze, is what the new normal will look like as and when the pandemic passes. What will our commercial, residential, work and office environments and faith communities look like? What will our demographics look like, given the high mortality rates in the elderly, men and people with pre-existing health concerns. Who will be able to help rebuild our communities and how? What do we need to do to get ready for life after Covid 19?

First, how will we deal with our emotional responses to the pandemic? Where communities and families have lost loved ones to this illness, how will we enable grieving and provide comfort to those who remain? How will be reintegrate back into our changed relationships?

Second, for our community at large, we can expect less demand for both commercial and office space as businesses downsize, implement more remote working from home; some businesses will fail. What uses can be put to the vacant space that will confront communities? With layoffs and the rise in unemployment, will sufficient relief be available to weather the transition, how will individuals and families be housed? How will businesses, civic institutions and not-for-profits large and small survive and scale up? We need to begin now to devise what planning analyses and responses we will need to consider.

Several processes can help each of us deal with the restrictions (and loneliness and isolation that we feel) and our preparation for returning to community life? Opportunities for people to be silent and grieve are important. We will need space and opportunity for sharing our stories with each other – in churches, synagogues and mosques, in community spaces, in media – stories about how we and our families and businesses survived this pandemic, or did not and space to remember and cherish those who didn’t. The forums which enable these stories to be told and listened to will be critical to sorting out the multiple purposes community members have that will need to be reconciled in an emerging community. Storytelling, really listening to each other, and contemplation will help humanize the abrupt changes we experience and begin to identify ends to which we can direct our efforts.

One foundational piece to consider is what form will our communities take as we devise online meetings to do business and to purchase food and commodities. Will some of these innovations be preferable to office work and visiting commercial facilities and restaurants/bars? In these situations, how can we better listen to trauma’s echo in our communities and work places that the pandemic has generated?

Trauma is a unique phenomenon in making decisions and taking actions. We encounter trauma in this uncertain time as the pandemic works its way through our communities. While public health officials project the numbers potentially impacted by Covid 19 and enable prevention and care for all, we can create safe places. These online places of worship, community centres, neighbourhood cafes, potluck suppers, offer places where the emotional needs of those who experience the pandemic can start to be addressed. Providing that space and opportunity to address these emotional responses requires safe places for silence and reflection during and after recovery.

Some of us may be tempted to deny the health research and evidence or see it as something that affects others in another place. Consequently, they may ignore the energy required to address pandemic responses that drain our emotional stockpile and potentially erect defensive mechanisms that preclude or diminish their recovery. In my opinion, this isn’t helpful! If you take this position, you need to read further before you discount what I have to say.

Trauma has lasting effects. When we experience traumatic events, our sense of safety, self-respect, sense of self and our ability to navigate relationships can be impaired.

Long after the pandemic passes, we should expect that we, and members of our community, will continue to feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness and fear, the throes of coping with our traumas. We are also most vulnerable to addictions of various sorts during these times.

Storytelling about how we survived can be a constructive measure to address our traumas. More importantly effective story telling can create safe places and situations in which multiple and potentially competing experiences can be shared and reflection and action undertaken. Providing safe spaces including effective listening for recounting experiences and attendant emotions will be important for the healing process. As we listen, we begin to identify the multiple purposes our faith communities will need to address to meet physical and emotional needs: online initially and in person as the pandemic passes and ends. What we hear will be varied and complex requiring careful reflection, discernment, ingenuity and creativity and carefully designed actions—and time.

As example can help explain this process. When I was 7 years old, I was involved in an automobile accident in which I almost lost my life. Days later after I recovered consciousness my father visited my hospital bed and informed me my mother didn’t survive the accident. To compound matters at that same time he was hospitalized and recovering from polio. I realized that no-one was available to take care of me. As it happened my father’s brothers, his sister and my grandmother stepped into the role of raising us. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I was able to speak about that journey to others and move, in a step-by-step process, toward emotional wellness.

Take another example. Years ago, when I was working for an Aboriginal Treaty organization in northwestern Ontario, a colleague informed me that he was involved in a court case in which a member of a religious order was charged with sexually assaulting him as a child when he attended a residential school. The judge had asked him whether he would like to remain unnamed during the trial as the trial was being reported on by the media. He made the decision that he would be named. He wanted it to be clearly understood by all who were present know who he was and what he asserted. He wanted and needed to own the tragedy before moving on. The priest was convicted and sentenced thereafter.

In contrast, some Canadians have found it difficult to own their own history where residential schools are concerned. We can acknowledge the factual history but not take ownership of the Aboriginal community’s emotional legacy as we live today as members of a society that designed and implemented the schools. Reconciliation requires active deliberative action if we are to meet, and not hide shamefully from, our society’s needs for emotional and ethical reconciliation. We can learn to deal with our Covid 19 based on what our Aboriginal sisters and brothers have done to address their traumas.

Beyond protecting and nurturing all of our families and loved ones, community decision making requires us to consider several purposes if we are to address the multitude of pandemic’ effects of trauma. From the silence that will surround our emergence from this pandemic, voices will arise that urge action. We will need discernment to sort out what is helpful and possible in our journeys. In the midst of this crisis we need to consider how we can deliberate together about what we need and what we can do together. Many people in a variety of roles can help encourage those conversations and subsequent actions.

In these conversations, treating each other well will be vital. For example, multi-stakeholder forums could provide advice reached by consensus among the participants. Basic ground rules are:

  1. participants should be collegial in all their discussions
  2. all the applicable sciences are to be applied
  3. evidence based decision making should be adhered to when providing advice
  4. all points of view among the participants need to be listened to during discussions and when providing advice.

We need our faith communities to design decision making actions capable of integrating the pandemic’s public health analyses with our survival stories and the emotional content and the reality of our multiple, potentially conflicting purposes and priorities we have in Port Colborne.

Our healing process requires faith communities, as well as others, to symbolize our pandemic experience. Symbols and memorials can address our grief as well as our new sense of social spacing as well inform objective decisions on our community and our actions as we conceive and build this future.

I symbolized my earlier trauma in the 90s when I created my business and named it McKibbon Wakefield Inc. The name came from a sign my father and his brothers erected on our family barn: McKibbon Brothers, Wakefield Farms. This name provided the legal identity I needed to create a business and helped me design and express my purpose in environmental planning. My Aboriginal colleague decided to let his name be published in the media during the trial.

These symbols we create and actions we take may address distribution systems for food, goods and services, how we create and design our communal community space with less office and commercial uses than presently exists, and how we govern our electronic media to design safe digital as well as the physical spaces in which they are applied. On a personal level we can continue our faith journey we have begun as the Gathering Place: our symbolization of what a community of hope may look like in the time of Covid 19.

Rational hope in this period of darkness doesn’t mean returning to past experience when lower hospitalization and fatality rates occur: it means accepting our new condition and looking for hope leading us to a new beginning. Our lives will be changed. We will fail if our objectives only work to restore matters as they were before: we will succeed if our faith creates a stronger community that builds on our shared experiences.

Let’s start discussions among ourselves and the larger community across organizational boundaries to build that stronger communities.

Geroge McKibbon

[i] John Forrester (Cornell University) and Ann McKibbon (McMaster University) reviewed and provided very helpful comments on drafts of this editorial. I am very grateful for their insights! Thank you!

New Giving Opportunity: e-Transfer
- Posted 2020-04-04 21:28:43

Good Day, All,

 

Treasurer Debbie has just been in and set us up to receive Interac e-transfers, which is to say, sending The Gathering Place money directly from you bank account.

 

If your eyes have immediately glazed over and you are hearing gibberish, here is a picture of some puppies.  Have a lovely day.  Stay safe and well.

 

Image result for cute puppy

 

If you are still with me,

 

Log in to your Internet Banking, whatever bank you deal with.  When you get to your Personal Page, select the Interac e-Transfer button >> Send Money, usually in the left hand column. 

 

Follow the instruction. PLEASE NOTE:  when it asks about a “Notification” method, they mean how THE CHURCH will know you’ve sent it so that’s where you put “office@thegp.ca

 

Now, some banks will want you to do a Security Question.  Choose what suits you, but you will have to email the answer separately to us at office@thegp.ca.

 

You will probably also have a space to add some notes, but these seem to be for your reference, not ours. 

 

So, just carry on as the bank leads you, and then send us an email with the security question answer, your Envelope #, and how you might want the money divided up, e.g. Support of the Church, Presbyterians Sharing/Mission, Projects, Memorial, Other.  

 

See all this new stuff we’re learning?  And it’s all thanks to a li’l ol’ virus.  God works in mysterious ways ...

 

Keep safe, keep well, God bless,

 

Jane

 

Bits and Bites March 25, 2020
- Posted 2020-03-25 13:58:36

Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

Susan Cain

My, isn’t it quiet? Well, sort of.

It’s an awful thing, this Covid 19, but the trick is to let it bring out the best in us, not the worst. Here at The Gathering Place we’ve been hatching some clever plans … and we’re open to suggestions so get your thinking caps on.

Thanks to everyone who applauded our first foray into on-line worship. Not too shabby, was it!? For those who missed it, it’s still up for a short time before it’s archived and we get another up for this coming Sunday. Take a look at www.thegp.ca. We’re learning as we go and getting tooled up for a slicker presentation so … watch that space!

And – guess what? – we miss you guys. We’ve put together a small group to phone around the congregation to see what you’re up to. Do you need anything we can help with? (Needless to say – but I’ll say it anyway – “legally”?) Errands, prayer requests, a rousing chorus of some song or other? Maybe not that last one. You get the drift. But I promise we won’t be trying to clean your ducts, fix your Microsoft account, or sell you anything else.

A couple of people have been asking if they can contribute to the Church’s work by Interac transfer – which means transferring directly from bank accounts. We ARE looking in to it, and we’ll also be setting up the Presbyterians’ PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance) system so we all have some options. And, of course, you can still drop cheques (no cash) into the outside mail box or cheques or cash into the Office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.

  1. – for now. We’re obviously going to be keeping an eye on the situation and go day-by-day.

I was going to make a joke there but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Presbyterian joke about money.

Anyhooooo…

Watcha doin’ to keep busy? Nothing? Right, I have some homework for you.

My mother had her favourite stories about growing up at First Presbyterian Church. I liked the one about a visiting minister who was all fire-and-brimstone in his preaching. He was also extremely short. So, when he came to preach, someone always put an orange crate in the pulpit so he could stand on it and be seen. This one Sunday, he was going at it hammer-and-tongs and came to the bit where he pounded the lectern once to emphasize that the Good would be going to Heaven and, banging the lectern again, the Sinners would go straight to … at which point, the orange crate broke and he disappeared from sight.

Many of you knew my mother. My mother swore that this is a true story from FPC.

So, your homework is to send us anecdotes – funny, whimsical, trivial, sad, whatever – of life in our Presbyterian church. They don’t even have to be old. I may have one or two more for future Bits & Bites but I don’t want to be the only one … !

Oh, and for all you readers out in the wide world beyond The Gathering Place regulars, Whazzup?

Keep well, people. Keep safe. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

“Every person has a story. Every story is a part of something Greater.”
Nathan Keys

Jane Thomas
Administration
The Gathering Place
905-834-4288 office@thegp.ca

Bits and Bites March 19, 2020
- Posted 2020-03-21 16:01:16

“Every adversity brings new experiences and new lessons.”

Lailah Gifty Akita

Is your head spinning? I know mine is. It’s one “Breaking News” after another, isn’t it?

And to add to the topsy-turvy world … you see we’ve announced that The Gathering Place, too, is suspending services for the time being.

But – Panic Not! (Not that you would, of course.)

Session & Helpers are working on cunning plans to keep us in touch and praising God. Any ideas? We’d love to hear them.

But there are still things to be doing while we’re getting our ducks in a row.

Stay in touch! If you’re in need of anything – sacred or secular – give us a call. We can get you to doctors appointments or fetch you some milk (and cookies?) when you’re running short. And Rev. Adam is always happy to minister to your soul as needed!

Rev. Adam Bartha, 289-823-0580

Linda Caldwell, 905-834-7418

Rev. Larry Beverly, 905-894-0484

John Fletcher, 905-835-1506

Reach out to each other! Dust off your address book and ring old friends. What a great opportunity to catch up!

And if you were planning on being part of the party going to Pasta With A Purpose on March 27th … need I say it? Yes, postponed. And we can say it’s virus-related; nothing to do with the fact that they heard 16 Presbyterians were about to land on them. Anyhoo, we’re just waiting to see what the new date is …

Of course, we’re all still out and about to some degree so, while you’re doing your shopping what about grabbing something for the Food Bank? The Gathering Place is still open its usual hours (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – 9.00 a.m. to noon) so you can just pop around on your way home from the supermarket and drop something off. And, if you also wanted to bring in your Givings envelope at the same time, that too would be much appreciated. We might have to change our game plan but the work of the Church goes on!

“Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you're going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you.”
Thisuri Wanniarachchi

Bits and Bites 2019-11-13
- Posted 2019-11-19 22:24:43

“Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers.” 

Kahil Gibran

There’s been a lot of snow recently – and a lot of kindness too.  The Port Colborne Lions Club Food Drive had a spectacular Saturday:  26,403 pounds of food and $2300 collected for Port Cares!  Kudos to the Lions, the firemen, the local businesses, the school kids, and all the volunteers for their mega-effort.  And thanks, too, to everyone who left a little something on their front steps for the fleet of picker-uppers. 

Let’s keep it going.  We’d love to make this next White Gift Sunday (December 8th) a particularly good ‘un.  Remember, you don’t have to wait for Sundays to bring in your contributions.  The Gathering Place is open Tuesday to Friday mornings so do your weekly shop, then drop (off).

And while we’re giving thanks, thanks to Sharon Beverly and her team for a fabulous turkey dinner for our Anniversary Weekend, November 2nd ; to Jen de Combe from National Office for her words of encouragement on Sunday; and to Rev Wally Hong for some motivational muscle at Tuesday’s Pot Luck.  (And by “pot luck” we mean “left overs from Sunday” but they were still yummy!)

Then this past Sunday, with Linda away on her hols, our ivories were tickled by guest pianist Sheila Brown and Monday Rev Adam was guest minister at the Legion’s Remembrance Day service.  Our blessings are piling up like… like … drifting snow?

We’re on the downward, snowy slope to Christmas so we’ll keep an eye on the Flight of Eagles Art Club and their wintery creations.  They meet tomorrow, Thursday,  from 4.30 to 6.16 p.m. 

That’s followed by our Social Evening.  No one has told me what’s on the agenda, but it’s always good fun, and there’s often pizza …

The Bible Study groups return on the 20th and 21st.  The Wednesday debaters are moving on to Romans 9, and the Thursday Ladies are checking out the Women of Jesus.

Nothing nicer than a cup of coffee or tea on a cold morning and the kettle is always on by 9.30 a.m. for the Friday Morning Club

The Niagara Branch of the Canadian Bible Society is still open to volunteers for their Bible Proclamation from November 13th to 16th in Port Colborne and St Catharines.  If you can volunteer to do a ‘shift’ or two, get in touch with Rev. Martin Wehrmann, 905-646-8271 or maw49@hotmail.com.  It’s a rain-snow-or-shine event and The GP will be providing the base for operations!

You might have noticed that not only is it white out there but it’s also more than a bit nippy.  The Out of the Cold dinners are a Big Deal for many and it’s the turn of The GP on November 26th to get them on the table.  If you can help prep, serve, or clean up,  Sharon and Larry Beverly would dearly like to hear from you!

Meanwhile, elsewhere

‘Tis the season to be jolly …

Central United Church’s Candy Cane Bazaar & Silent Auction will be on Saturday, November 16th from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m.  Come for baked goods and crafts;  come for lunch!

The Busy Bee Crafters’ Christmas Bazaar is also on November 16th, 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. at the Sherkston Community Centre.  Crafts, baked goods, and a Christmas Tea will be on offer.

St James & Brendan Anglican Church’s “Holiday Memories” Christmas House Tour and Tea will be on Saturday, Nov. 23rd from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.  Advance tickets are $20 from the church;  $25 on the day. 

The Treble Makers Christmas concert this year will be on Saturday December 14th at 7.00 p.m. at St. James & St Brendan Anglican Church.  Proceeds from the free will offering will be donated to The Broken Spoke bicycle renovation workshop.

And looking even further ahead …

Port Colborne Baptist Church will be hosting the Watoto Children’s Choir from Africa in February 2020.  They are looking for homes which could host one adult and two children for the night of February 7th.  If you can help, please contact Rev. Aaron LeGrow, 905-835-5668  (I’m also guessing there will be tickets on sale at some point;  watch this space.)

 

“Fresh snow on driveways is God’s way of reminding me to love my neighbour.”

Linda Winegar

Jane Thomas
Administration
905-834-4288

office@thegp.ca

A Message addressed to the members of the Niagara Acton for Animals and the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance
- Posted 2019-11-19 22:22:35

We are members of The Gathering Place which is First Presbyterian Church in Port Colborne.  Our denomination regrettably operated some residential schools.  We have confessed this participation as a sin and representatives of the denomination and The Gathering Place participated in reconciliation programs, most recently at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. 

On November 6, 2019, Welland Tribune reporter Grant Lafleche reported in an article entitled “Short Hills hunt opponents label Indigenous hunters drunks and calls for their deaths.”  Haudenosaunee hunters are permitted in December to undertake a ceremonial deer hunt in the Short Hills Park since 2013.  The harvest is approved and supervised by the Park’s Managers, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Safety measures are in place during the hunt for the safety of local residents.   

Spokespersons for the Niagara Action for Animals and the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance allowed Facebook postings and participation in site protests from individuals who called the hunters “drunks and barbarians”, with some calling for the hunters to be harvested, like the deer.  While the postings were removed, their removal took time and were viewed widely.  The Saturday, November 9th edition of the Welland Tribune reports the protest organizers apologized.  With respect, we do not feel the apology is sufficient. 

Here are actions we encourage the Niagara Action for Animals and the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance to take to facilitate reconciliation with the traditional harvesters:

  1. Your organizations need to own the racism which has been expressed in your protests.
  2. It isn’t sufficient to apologize without acknowledging the Aboriginal hunt is lawful, carefully planned, and approved by Provincial authorities responsible for the Short Hills Park.  Traditional deer hunting is a treaty right.  This right needs to be acknowledged by the membership of the Niagara Action for Animals and the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance in your publications and communications to members and the public.   
  3. As settlers and descendants of settlers, we are treaty people and obliged to honour the Haudenosaunee peoples Treaty rights.  Educational forums are available in Oshweken and local Niagara Region Native Friendship Centres where we can educate ourselves on our responsibilities.  We encourage the members of the Niagara Action for Animals and the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance to use these forums to learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its recommendations and to confront racism in its many forms when it arises in the future.
  4. We thank the Creator for the Short Hills Park and the Haudenosaunee peoples who managed these lands before our settlement and who continue to help manage this important resource.
  5. Some form of reparation is needed to address the offensive postings and statements that you sponsored.  With respect, your organizations need to cease harassing the Haudenosaunee hunters at the Short Hills Park.
Port Hospital
- Posted 2019-11-19 22:20:20

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” – Proverbs 3:27

In living our day to day lives, we can sometimes forget – or at least overlook – the powerful force that is Community.  Those of us raised in the Christian faith are both morally and spiritually bound to the idea of service to others, to those in need, to our neighbours. 

In the spirit of service, the Port Colborne community saw the need, post-war, to improve health care in Port Colborne.  The community raised funds.  The community built Port Colborne Hospital and, over its 65+ years, the community has cared for the Hospital as it has cared for us.

When the local press broke the story, on September 18th, of the pending closure of our Urgent Care unit, it was probably met more with despair than with surprise.   It is an idea which has been floated often over the last thirty years.  Services have been lost; equipment bought with local funds has moved to larger hospitals; Emergency has been demoted to Urgent Care. 

And now we are told we will be losing even Urgent Care.

When you live in a community, when you support your neighbours, when you volunteer to make your community thrive, you understand what a blow this proposal will be.  The older citizen, the under-employed and unemployed citizen, the house-bound, and the young will be challenged to access these now-distanced services. 

And so, as Christians and as community members, the ball is in our court.  We ask our elected representatives and we ask our civil servants, please consider fully the repercussions.  Listen to your constituents.  Place value on our lived experience.   

We are here to work with you.

Sincerely and Prayerfully,

The Congregation

First Presbyterian Church

 

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him

as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Hebrews 6:10

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