Welcome to the site of the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda

We hope that this will be a helpful resource for you and your church. Whether you are looking for ministry curriculum for a youth group, VBS, or adult Bible study, we hope that we can provide you with some good recommendations. Check out our congregational development page to answer some of those tough ministry questions about working in a church! Or check out our workshops page if you or a group from your congregation are interested in attending a seminar or continuing education event for your ministry!

YOU ARE INVITED – TO THE SYNOD OF CENTRAL, NORTHEASTERN ONTARIO AND BERMUDA

Dear Friends,

Please find attached a poster for the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda. This event is happening on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Brampton.

Three years ago the executive of the synod made a shift in the focus of the annual synod meeting to include an extended opportunity for everyone to enjoy and benefit from a more educational and worshipful event. While attendance at the synod meeting is still by commissioners representing each presbytery, the synod executive has added in a plenary speaker, workshops and a full worship service to the day and have invited anyone interested to come and enjoy.

This year we are delighted to have Dr. Anna Carter Florence from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia join us and speak about excellence in worship and preaching. Her topic of the day comes from a book she is presently writing. We are delighted we will have the opportunity to not only hear her speak on her area of knowledge, but also have her preach during our closing worship service.

Some have questions about how the day will unfold. In the morning synod commissioners will conduct their business meeting in the sanctuary, while the WMS Synodical executive will conduct a business meeting in another room, while a workshop led by Rev. Glynis Williams, of International Ministries, will take place in a third space for everyone else. Following lunch everyone will come together to enjoy the Dr. Florence’s plenary, one workshop of their choice, and closing worship with Dr. Florence. All participants, other than synod commissioners, can choose to attend for the full day, join us for lunch and the afternoon activities, or just come for the afternoon activities. Commissioners are expected to attend the morning business meeting and are invite to stay for the day.

Please stress that all participants need to register for this event and indicate if they intend join us for lunch.

It is my hope that you will circulate this poster throughout your presbytery so that as many as possible can benefit from this wonderful opportunity to come together, catch up, and participate together in great learning and worship.

Thank you, Tori

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Milestones: Back-To-School

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As parents do pirouettes in the aisles of the local Staples singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” we recognize that the last few days of the summer are now upon us and soon the ‘real’ first day of the new year is about to occur. It’s ‘Back to School’ time in Canada, and students, parents and teachers are all getting ready for this event.

In the homes of our church families many annual rituals are now taking place; parents are out shopping with their kids, hunting for outfits that will fit and impress, backpacks are being dug through to establish what needs to be replaced, and what will do, and lunch box worthy foods are being assembled to ensure students are energized for their upcoming days of school. At home, children are beginning to go to bed a little earlier each evening to become acclimatized to the demands of an early morning rush to get everyone out the door on time for school buses and walks to school. Teachers are putting together lesson plans and decorating classrooms to be welcoming and educational.

Some students are looking forward to this brand new school year, while others may be worrying about what this year might bring. Will they like their new teacher(s)? Will their teacher(s) like them? Will they do well, or will the challenge of new learning feel like a constant up uphill battle? Will they get on the school team this year, or will they face disappointment. Will some of their very best friends be in their class(es), or will that person who bugged them every day be sitting in the desk next to them. For most students the first day of school is a complex mix of all of the above.

Where is the church in all of these preparations, celebrations, and anxious anticipation? As a church we are often great at marking significant religious events in people’s lives, but we sometimes forget to also offer rituals for the other significant events or milestones in the lives of our people. Back-to-School is a great opportunity for the church to mark this significant event in the lives of our children and youth and anchor this occasion in the activity of God. Rituals surrounding the special moments of our lives remind us of who we are and what God has done in our lives. As we celebrate this story with our families we place it into God’s story and our children hear that this aspect of their lives is important to God and to us. We remind our children that God goes with them as they return to school and that the church values and cares for them as they enter into this new year. Adults of the church are also reminded to care for the children and youth of the church and to be present in all of the events of their lives.

So what can we do to mark this great milestone. We begin in community worship the first Sunday after Labour Day weekend and acknowledge this event in our corporate prayers, stories, and preaching. Most importantly we must pray with and for our students as they head off to school. We need to give thanks for God’s activity in all of the events of the lives of our students and particularly for God’s care and presence as our children head off to school. Pray for growing wisdom, safe places, anxieties relieved, opportunities to care for others, fun and joy in learning vocation and for the teachers that will guide, teach and mentor our students. A file with a few samples of a few litanies for this Sunday are attached below.

In addition to prayer, many churches are beginning to add a ‘Blessing of the Backpacks’ ritual on this Sunday. Students (and even teachers) are invited to bring their packed backpacks to worship on the first Sunday of the school year and come forward to be blessed along with their backpacks. A children’s message that helps to anchor their activity in school as their vocation and remind them that God is present with them in all of the aspects of their lives helps children to see themselves as children of God in all things and to bring their faith and faithful activity to school with them. As they and their backpacks are blessed, consider also giving each child a small token reminder of this day as a gift from the church. A button or key ring that has a symbol of God’s love on it could be attached on the outside or inside of their backpack as a constant reminder that they are loved by God and their church community. A link to a blog posting on the backpack blessings can be found at the end of this article.

In addition to blessing the backpacks of the students of the church, consider also gathering good quality new school supplies and backpacks to be given to children who are unable to have these new and much-needed items as they return to school as well. These packed bags could be given to a local shelter that welcomes children or even a nearby school or teacher from your congregation to distribute as needed.

As you introduce this new ritual to your September calendar take note of what was welcomed by church and what might be improved upon for next year. Begin to think of what you might do next year, remembering that while our rituals may be tweaked each year the repetition of ritual itself is significant. Such rituals have ‘staying power’ and shape us and our experience of God’s presence in our lives.

Click here for Back-To-School Litanies

Link to Litany of the Backpacks

Some additional thoughts and ideas for Back-To-School

 

Getting Up-To-Date With Pokemon Go

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In just a few short weeks the world has become obsessed with the recently released, interactive game Pokemon Go. This free app that you can download on your iPhone or Android is reviving the huge success of the Pokemon cards, game, and TV show of a generation ago. This new application of the game is getting players out of their chairs and walking the streets of their town or city trying to ‘catch ‘em all’. It is literally the talk of the town this summer!

Pokemon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game that has kids and adults alike throwing Poke Balls at Pokemon that pop up on the screen of their mobile phones as they walk around their neighbourhood, and then training and engaging in battles at PokeStops and Gyms. You may not have played the game, but you may have recently discovered that your church has been identified as a Pokemon Gym, and you now have kids and adults alike hanging around your church yard with their faces focused on their phones. What’s a church to do?

The first step is to get educated. Find out what this game is about and what your church has to do with it. If you’re not already playing, read a few of the articles linked below, and/or download the app and try the game out for yourself. Get out and chat with others you meet on the way and ask why they’re playing and what they like about the game. Learn a few of the terms and names of the characters and what the point of the game is.

Second, begin to think of ways your church can respond well to the occasional players that you find on your church property training at what they see as a Pokemon Gym. Through these unexpected visits, congregations have been given a fortuitous opportunity to reveal themselves positively to those in their community who might otherwise never know what a church community is. While I suspect that this new phenomenon is not going to bring huge numbers to your church looking to become members, I do believe that in these chance events we form lasting memories and attitudes shaped by our welcome and treatment of all people; we are defined in these telling moments. To help you consider ways of making these moments great again read a few of the links attached.

Have fun this summer, and I hope you ‘catch ‘em all’!

Pokemon: What Parents Need to Know

Pokemon: How The Church Of England Aims to Catch ‘Em All

Pokemon: Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts When Your Church is a PokeStop

Families and Screen Time

 

 

 

A Commissioning Service for WMS Executives – 2016

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Each year we commission new WMS executive committees within our groups, presbyterials and synodical. Each year at this time we embrace this opportunity to recognize, set apart, and prayerfully commission the activities and faithful commitment of our leadership to the work of the WMS under the spiritual guidance of our God. This year’s service of commissioning has been inspired by the story of the exodus and the theme of our Annual Synodical meeting, “Wandering Ways,” which we look forward to hearing more about from our theme speaker Rev. Karen Horst. Please feel free to use the service of commissioning attached, knowing that throughout our synodical many faithful women and men are answering the same questions with words, “With the help of the Lord, I will.”

Click here for the 2016 Service of Commissioning in a bulletin format.

“Make Room” for a wonderful, new children’s Lent and Easter book

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Presbyterian minister and mother, Laura Alary, has gifted the church once again with a wonder-filled, story-resource for families. Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter invites children and their parents to consider together the story of the life of Jesus during the season of Lent, and make room in their homes and hearts to welcome God in as they prepare for Easter.

From her perspective as a mother, Laura writes, “When my children were very young I always looked forward to the changing seasons. Inside and outside the church, the turning of the circle brought new colours and sights and smells – plenty of opportunity to explore and create. My little library of activity books kept us busy. But when it came to Lent and Easter I was never satisfied. The kids and I ironed grated crayons on to waxed paper to make stained glass crosses; we made purple paper chains, and hot crossed buns; we even blended and burned our own incense. But something was missing. Although we had plenty to do, we lacked a framework – something to hold the pieces together in a meaningful pattern. We were missing the BIG picture – a narrative which held the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as an integrated whole, and which invited children to become a part of the story.”

Make Room is written for children using a story format that gently weaves episodes from the life and ministry of Jesus with reflections on Lenten practices from the point of view of children. The rituals and practices revealed within its pages are simple ones for families to complete: cleaning our rooms; eating plain meals like bread and soup; giving up snacks and using saved money to help someone in need. They are all variations on the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and they all centre around the theme of emptying out to make space. Woven together the practices find their meaning in the stories of Jesus as these events are brought together to become a part of the big picture of what God is doing in the world – through Jesus, and through those that follow him.

Please consider buying this resource for your own family this Lent and Easter, and also placing an extra copy in your church library for other families to discover for their homes.

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter can be purchased from Paraclete Press at http://www.paracletepress.com/make-room.html, or through amazon.ca.