Love, Service, Spirituality

2017 08-17

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – August 17, 2017

What’s on the bookshelf?

In a Weekday Wondering reflection I wrote in June, I considered the idea of diversity, and how we often fall short in our day to day lives. I mentioned my own awareness of how limited the diversity within my reading choices can sometimes be. This summer I have added three quite different books to my reading list in order to read more recent by First Nations and Indigenous writers:

Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson (2015). This book is given the subtitle or description “Stories and Songs.” For those here during our Canada Day Hymn Service, we heard a short excerpt from this book as one of the readings.

Walking the clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, edited by Grace L. Dillon (2012). It might be the case that we more commonly turn to Indigenous authors on topics obviously related to their experience, or environmental or political subjects. Sometimes when we move to genre fiction, diversity can seem to disappear. This book collects science fiction from Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors.



2017 08-09

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – August 9, 2017

Photo Credit: Frances Morton-Chang


I was recently walking to the bus stop when I passed by a superhero. Well, it was a youth wearing a Superman t-shirt, but that is almost the same thing. You might know that our congregation has regular appearances from a superhero or two as well… We have a real cultural interest in superheroes. So many of the big blockbuster movies are part of the Marvel universe or the DC universe. This year alone we have: The Lego Batman Movie; Logan; Power Rangers; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Wonder Woman; Spider Man: Homecoming; Thor: Ragnarok; and Justice League. And that’s not even looking at television or other media. So, why are superhero movies so popular?

In some ways superhero movies hold at their very heart the tension all of us experience in some way, which we bring to our faith as well – it is hard not to look at our world and see everything that is going wrong, and yet we cling to the hope that good can win. For our superheroes, just like for all of us, we see that this success is not straightforward, and there can be great costs in doing what is right. Superhero movies can even lead us to bigger questions (can violence ever truly end violence, or does it just create more? What happens when too much hope or responsibility is placed on a single person or group of people, and how does this distort our society?)


2017 08-03

Can you help?

Leaside United Church will be welcoming a refugee family new to Canada next week. We are in the process of setting up their apartment and are looking for donations of the following items:

  • Couch
  • Two single beds
  • Bunk beds (single bed on the bottom and single bed on the top)
  • New blankets, linens and pillows
  • New towels
  • Curtains
  • Dresser
  • Toaster oven
If you can help with any of these items, please drop off your donations to Leaside United Church, 822 Millwood Road, #Toronto, Ontario between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday … for extra assistance please ask for Kim Morgan our custodian. If you need help with pick up of larger items (beds & couch), we will have a trailer available to us over the next couple of days for moving.

Thanking you in advance for all your kindnesses and generous donations!

2017 07-28

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – July 28, 2017

Vancouver Pride Flags


Being Affirming

After meeting with a family about baptism in August, I found myself stuck in traffic on my way home, and listening to the news. Unfortunately the news was about Trump’s policy announcement via twitter to exclude transgender people from military service. Here is the rough information I gained from the news story:

Currently perhaps 2500 transgender people service in the US military. That’s a significant number given how recently Obama made it permissible to do so.

The medical cost to the US military might be roughly 8 million a year. The cost to the US military for Viagra is roughly 42 million. The Pentagon yearly budget is over 600 billion.

My heart breaks for those roughly 2500 people who are directly experiencing uncertainty and fear as a result of this announcement. It can be easy to be caught up in numbers, outrage, or complacency (after all, that sort of thing doesn’t happen in Canada) and forget about the people whose lives and careers are directly affected. Not just those currently serving, but all those who might have been thinking of serving, or even those transgender people who would never be interested but still hear in this a message of being unwelcome. (more…)

Leaside United Church Gardeners

Love to garden?  Join us, The Leaside United Church Gardeners, on Tuesday August 1st, 15th and 29th from 9am-11am.  Bring your own hand tools and some water and sunscreen, we’ll take care of the weeds and enjoy some hard earned laughs together!

Photo Credit: Fraser Holman

2017 06-26

TED Talks Summer Group

Join us as we watch talks on the religion or faith question of the week (a different complementary video from Sunday Worship), followed by an informal discussion over ice cream.  We meet 3:30-4:45pm on Tuesdays, from July 11th – August 8th and one Wednesday to finish up on August 16th.

The New Leaside United Church – 822 Millwood Road, Toronto, Ontario, Free Parking & Accessible (416) 425-1253

Ecclesiastes & Picnic Worship

We gathered in the Auditorium and reflected on Ecclesiastes 3:1-15.  We thought about words or a phrase that caught our attention. We shared what in this scripture connected with what was going on in our lives.  We shared how God might be challenging us to change ourselves.  And finally we prayed for one another.  A lovely coming together event with special thanks to Rev. Rose Ann Vita for leading us, Sharon Beckstead and Nancy Stewart for their musical talents and all the kitchen volunteers who provided a delicious lunch.

Photo Credits: Murray Fenner

Summer Gardening Enthusiasts Needed!

The gardens of our church are enjoyed by attendees and by the surrounding community, and during the summer, extra effort is
required to maintain the gardens and keep them healthy and attractive.

If you have an interest in gardening or don’t mind getting your hands dirty and watching those you attend to flourish and grow,
the church gardens are the place for you. No heavy lifting is required! All are welcome and a special welcome to our new members from Presteign-Woodbine UC.

On alternate Tuesday mornings during July and August ( rain date is Thursday of same week ), we will garden between 8 – 11:45am.

The specific dates are July 4 and July 18 and August 1, 15 and 29th. Please come as your schedule allows – every hour helps!

Items that help include lopers, pruners, weeding tools, small spades as well as personal items such as water, a hat, sunscreen and knee pads and anything else you enjoy using in the garden.

If you wish to donate materials, please know that a tax receipt can be provided as part of your Church donation if items are
approved in advance and provided to the church with appropriate invoices. Items such as natural cedar mulch, brown garden bags, topsoil and new plantings are often needed.

If you wish to make a donation, please contact Marnie Walker or 416-481-9188.

2017 06-23

Pride Parade 2017

Local United Church folk in Toronto have secured both a group marching permit and a vehicle permit for an open air double-decker bus and for the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017.#UCCANPRIDETO with Toronto Conference

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – June 23, 2017

Photo Credit: Carlo Navarro


Diversity (Babies, Faith, and Canada)

This week I’ve been reading a book by Jena Pincott called Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy (spoiler alert: as a true chocolate lover I skipped ahead for the answer, and it seems there’s some research that suggests this may be the case because of chocolate’s ability to moderate stress). For those of you who were at church last Sunday when I shared that I am pregnant, my reading choice probably isn’t surprising.

I’ve also been reading a blog post on The Almost Indian Wife called “How Can You Teach Your Biracial Child To Be Proud Of Who They Are”.  Her first point is the need to surround your child with diversity. She writes, “You can do this by showing diversity in their books, food, friend groups, school, movies, and more. This doesn’t just mean their own culture. They need to be exposed to multiple cultures because it creates an environment of acceptance rather than intolerance.” I really appreciated her attention to learning not just about your own culture(s) but many others and, while I have a personal stake in this, I think this applies to all of us. (more…)

2017 06-21

Special Notice Re July Rentals

Our facility rental coordinator, John Bell, will be away from June 19th to July 24th inclusive, and will not be addressing any rental inquiries during that period.  Church events, including funerals and weddings, will continue to be coordinated through our Ministerial team.

Note also that most rental rooms are already booked for summer camps on weekdays through the entire summer.

Thank you!

2017 06-17

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – June 17, 2017

Celebrations – Canada’s 150

I’ve explored the idea of birthdays and anniversaries when we’re talking about people, relationships, or congregations, but what about when we’re talking about countries? This year as we mark Canada’s 150 I’ve been wondering what it means to celebrate it. Recently I’ve been thinking about it a number of different ways.

History – while there are many events and people to celebrate in Canada’s past, there are also many things we need to recognize were wrong. Examples include mistreatment of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, in many ways including residential schools and the ‘sixties scoop.’ Other instances include the treatment of various immigrant groups throughout our history, from Chinese workers building the railway, to internment camps, to current instances of Islamophobia. How do we celebrate all that is good in our country’s past and present in a way that does not ignore the instances when our country has done harm?

Arts and Culture – In order to celebrate this country, it seems to me that we need to support Canadian talent and creativity, as well as the Canadian economy. In an age of globalization, there are many ways in which we name a value on being Canadian, but do not support the country with our spending habits or leisure time. I’m not sure if you heard about the CRTC decision earlier this (Canada’s 150th) year. (more…)