Category Archives: Congregational Development Archive

Faith Formation Matters-a new, free course for Christian Education Coordinators

Dear friends,

Many of our local congregations have hired a gifted lay person, usually on a part-time basis, to coordinate and lead their Christian education, youth and/or family ministries programmes. While these people are hired with a great deal of commitment to the task, they often have little formal education in their ministry area and wish they had more.

The synod has heard this concern. This fall the synod is inviting anyone serving as a paid Christian education coordinator to sign up and participate in an exciting and interactive basic course on Christian education and faith formation that is designed to assist them in understanding and doing their ministry better. This course, ‘Faith Formation Matters’, will cover the basics of the theology, theory and practice of educational ministry as well as provide an opportunity for participants to get to know others in their field.

‘Faith Formation Matters’ will be taught by Dr. Tori Smit, the synod’s Regional Minister for Faith Formation. Tori holds a Doctor of Educational Ministry Degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, has been a professional Christian educator for over 36 years, has authored numerous curriculum resources for the PCC, PCUSA, Kerygma Bible Studies and Montreat Conference Center, has taught Christian Education courses at Columbia Theological Seminary and Emmanuel College and keynotes regularly across Canada and the US. She is both knowledgable and very practical in her field.

And here is the best news of all – ‘Faith Formation Matters’ is free.

This course will be held between 7 and 9 pm the third Wednesday of each month at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Trinity is easily reached from all directions as it is just off of the 401 at Bayview Ave. and has a parking lot available. If your church has a person serving as the CE coordinator, or you are that person, please register by calling Tori at 647-348-0879 or emailing

See you at Trinity, Tori Smit

Light, Glorious Light!


The season of Advent starts on December 2. It is the beginning of a new church year and invites us to move out of darkness and in to God’s marvellous light as we anticipate and prepare for the coming of Christ. As we decorate our homes, plan family meals and rush around to gather gifts and visit friends and family during this season it is important to stop, rest and reflect on the stories from scripture that lead us to Jesus, the light of the world.

I invite you to take time, to read and to pray each day of the Advent season. To help you on your way please feel free to download and print the Advent devotional booklet, Light, Glorious Light! attached to this blog posting. Please feel free to duplicate it and gift it to family, friends, and church members.

This devotional booklet is based on Year 1 of the Narrative Lectionary, a new collection of scripture readings that highlight the stories of our faith over a four year cycle. This year you will encounter the stories of Habakkuk and Esther along with the Gospel texts from Matthew and Luke.

When you open the attached pdf. file it will appear to be out of order. It isn’t. The pages appear to be out of order because the file is intended to be printed as a booklet. Print the file as a two-sided document with the short-edges binding, then take the printed pages as they come off your printer and fold them in half as a booklet with the colour picture of the candles on the cover of your booklet. Staple the middle seam to hold all of the pages together.

If you are wanting to print multiple copies, print the document on six, one-sided pages and then photocopy them as a double-sided document, fold as a booklet and staple in the middle. You will want to run one copy off as a trial document before committing your photocopier to large numbers.

I wish you hope, peace, joy and love this Advent as you experience God’s love anew each day. Tori

click here for the 2018 Advent Devotional Booklet, Light, Glorious Light

Crieff Hills Retreat and Conference Centre now offers training in spiritual direction


Crieff Hills, the retreat center owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, has recently partnered with Ontario Jubilee to offer training for those who wish to become spiritual directors. It is an ecumenical program rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition and is open to everyone from all walks of life, including both clergy and lay people.   

Spiritual directors are trained companions who accompany others on their spiritual journey and help them grow closer to God. Most commonly they meet one on one, offering an opportunity to explore God’s presence in everyday life. It is an ancient spiritual practice meant for anyone who wishes to deepen their relationship with God and can take place once, or periodically over a long period of time. Usually spiritual directors charge a modest fee.   

Training to become a spiritual director at Crieff involves two courses: Phase 1 is a 16-month course which invites the exploration of one’s own spirituality, focusing on skill development in listening, discernment and contemplative living. Phase 2 is a 15-month practicum in spiritual direction, focusing on acquiring the skills needed to accompany others on their spiritual journey. Each course includes two five-day residencies at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre with several assignments to be completed at home throughout the year. All leadership is provided by experienced Jubilee spiritual directors. 

For more information about spiritual direction and the Jubilee program go to 

Come to the Pre-Advent Retreat at Crieff Hills for Church Leaders

Before the hustle and bustle of the season takes over your days, take time to relax, refresh, and/or plan ahead away from the busyness of it all.

Pre-Advent Retreat Special 

Leading others through the season of Advent requires careful preparation. This year, Crieff is offering a reduced rate for church leaders, preachers and Sunday school teachers for nights between November 4th to 9th and November 11th to 16th. Book an overnight stay for $80 (+HST) per night and receive:

  • overnight accommodation in a one-bedroom suite at the Pines

  • access to a special Advent resource center in the Pines Common Room       

  • opportunities for walking the labyrinth and hiking our extensive wooded trails 

  • unhurried time to prepare Bible studies, write sermons and plan children’s programs   

Call 1-800-884-1525 to book your stay. Ask about discounts on shared rooms and multiple night stays! Let us help you quiet your heart, wait on God and prepare for the upcoming holiday season.   

Christmas Gift Boxes

Is your congregation considering participating in a Christmas gift box project this year? Such boxes are often filled with toys and toiletries by caring individuals and groups, returned to the sponsoring agency, and sent to children living in vulnerable communities in countries around the globe. Yet, this hands-on means of gracious giving may not be as helpful as you think.

Before signing on to participate in a gift box program please read the following article from Presbyterian World Service and Development written to help you consider this way of assisting children and communities who are at risk, including some great alternative options for caring for vulnerable children during the Christmas season and throughout the year.

Following the article is a link to an more extensive article about the Showbox programme from the baptist news.



Click here for a link to a more extensive article posted in the Baptist News


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