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A Good Launch of our Community Consultation: March 2, 2019

Robert Nichols

We had a good turnout in the gym of Ummah Mosque on March 2, 2019 for the launch of our Community Consultation process with Common Good Solutions. 

We've done the visioning, we've done the soul searching. We have a new minister and a new, nimbler governance model. Now it's time to move forward.

When we moved into the Conservatory about ten years ago, we knew it wouldn't be our permanent home. We used our time here well, healing and recovering from a time of broken dreams, figuring out how to be "a church without walls" - but most of all: preparing for what's next.

Our lease at the Conservatory expires in May 2020, so "what's next" is coming up pretty fast. With that in mind, your Board felt it would be of great help to engage an outside consultant to help facilitate the process of not only finding a new place to be church, but also potential partners to be church with. This partner doesn't have to be another congregation, but can be any community organization with characteristics and priorities similar to ours.

After conversations with different potential candidates we decided to work with Common Good Solutions, a local values-based consultancy with ample experience in this field. And once we had met with Robert Nichols, one of their consultants, we soon felt this would be a good match. Robert and our Minister Hubert will be working closely together during this process, which had its official launch last Saturday (just before the snow storm).

The valuable work that the Transition Team has already done will be an excellent resource and starting point in this. Some of the process will happen in the background, but of course we'll also need the support and input from you, the congregation. So we intend to be absolutely transparent, keeping you informed of all developments.

All of this should result in two or three concrete proposals by this coming July, outlining how, where and possibly with whom St. John's can continue to be "a church without walls" - and thrive and grow.

After that it's up to the congregation to decide which way it wants to go, and to actually make it happen.

To help us see beyond the conventional and to get the creative juices flowing we watched "The Social Shift", a 45-minute documentary commissioned by Common Good Solutions. It took us on a coast-to-coast road trip from Vancouver to Halifax with three Millennials (young adults in their twenties, the age group we hardly see in church anymore) exploring the concept of Social Enterprise that are happening all over Canada.

It was inspiring to see them respond to the powerful idea of doing justice, being truly inclusive and breaking a lot of stereotypes and preconceived ideas, simply by listening to the folks on the margins, people who aren't heard let alone taken seriously. Sounds familiar...?

Creche Sunday 2018.

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Our Creche Sunday 2018 service was on December 16. We enjoyed seeing all the nativity sets the congregation brought in to display. Thank you to all the children, youth, parents and volunteers who presented an amazing Children's Christmas Pageant, "The First Christmas - The Untold Story".


After the service, we sold Fair Trade extra virgin Zatoun Olive Oil and Za’atar spices
in support of farmers in Palestine and peace with justice in the Holy Land.

Not sure how to cook with the thyme herb mix Za-atar?
Here are some recipes.

Sunday After Service Lunches.

We will offer a light and informal (ie. soup, bread, cheese) lunch on the first and third Sunday of every month after church as a way to strengthen our community, and generally help us get to know one another, young and old. Different groups and committees within the church take turns hosting and preparing food each week.

If you are interested in hosting, please email

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Reverend Hubert Introducing Hubert Den Draak, Our New Principal Minister
On May 6, 2018, the Congregational Meeting voted to accept the Joint Search Committee’s recommendation to call the Reverend Hubert Den Draak as our new principal minister. Hubert started at St John’s United on September 1, 2018. He is a diaconal minister who trained at the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg. For the past seven years, he has been minister at Pinegrove United Church in Rosslyn ON, near Thunder Bay. His first career was in film, filling many positions in direction and production, both in the Netherlands and, since 1997, in Canada.

Hubert says “As a Diaconal Minister, my passion is to engage with new forms of being church that are more in tune with the potential, issues and concerns of the 21st century." He describes himself as having “a reluctance to accept the status quo, and an openness to Christ-led transformation." At Pinegrove, Hubert worked with the congregation to embrace “radical hospitality”, leading to the development of Café del Soul, a bi-weekly lunch gathering for everyone in the community, offering food, friendship, music and art. He and his wife, Jacomyn Gerbrandy, also built their own straw bale house fully powered and heated by sun and wind. Watch the video

New Board Members Needed!
Because we are changing our governance system to be a unified board, and ending the Session/Official Board divide, we have an opportunity to reshape the way we make plans and decisions at St John’s United, keeping the best of what has happened before and identifying new ways to strengthen our faith community.

Would you like to be part of that? The starting vision for the new board is that it will ground what it does in the Spirit through prayer and reflection, keeping the big picture firmly in view, carrying out the necessary business as efficiently as possible, and empowering committees and task groups to do the inspiring work involved in following Christ’s message of love, compassion, justice and peace.

Does this pique your interest? Put your name forward to be a member of the new board by speaking with Katherine Harman or Lesley Griffiths. One last point — we want board meetings to be, dare we say it, enjoyable and uplifting, not a dreary obligation. And to end on time! Can you help make this happen?

New Initiative Fund.
In December, the Official Board established a New Initiatives Fund of $15,000 to support renewal of the spiritual life and programs of St. John’s United. The fund supports members of the faith community who have a passion for developing a program or initiating an activity that will broaden, deepen and nourish the community of St. John’s United Church. The overall goal is to support an idea that will lead to an ongoing program or activity for a variety of interests and age groups. Applications will be reviewed and approved by the Official Board Executive and reported to the Official Board. Information and application forms are available from the office, Martha Martin or Jim Sharpe.

Would you like to find out what is happening in our very active, vibrant church on a weekly basis? Please send your e-mail address to Marilyn Peacock at the church office- ...We will add you to our mailout list and you'll never have to miss the news!

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