Love, Service, Spirituality

2017 10-20

Emily’s Weekday Wonderings – October 20, 2017

On Sunday, we began a four week worship series called “Songs and Psalms.” Music fills our lives in so many ways, whether it is the radio in the car, streaming music online, soundtracks to film and television, playing in a school band, singing in a choir, or attending concerts, ballets, musicals or operas. Every week, our worship is filled with music. And it’s not just because we like music, it’s because music is an important part of our faith.

If you open the Bible at about the middle, chances are you will end up in Psalms – Psalms are at the very centre of our scripture. Although many of the psalms are attributed to David (who the stories tell us was a lyre-playing shepherd before becoming King of Israel), scholars mostly think that the book of psalms is primarily a collection of the hymns of their day, used by the community worshiping together. The psalms are filled with all sorts of things we find in our hymns as well – expressions of thanksgiving, attempts to describe God’s goodness, lament and sorrow, celebration of beauty and hope. Sometimes the psalms are a bit more human than we’d like them to be but they can also be filled with beauty. There is even a whole set of the psalms that are about the importance of songs and music as a way to worship (some of which we’re hearing during our series). Of course, psalms aren’t the only place music and song appears in our scriptures – songs are sprinkled throughout the stories, whether songs sung by Miriam and Moses in the Exodus story, or songs sung by Mary and others in expectation of and response to Jesus’ birth.

Sometimes we are tempted to separate the church and our faith from our communities and day to day lives. It can seem easier to have neat boxes, to label some music “sacred” and some “secular” and see them as different. However, I think the stories of our faith remind us that this is not the case. Any song we sing with honesty and joy can be an act of praise. Any song that speaks to the deepest human emotions, whether love, sadness, anger, or celebration can offer insight into the meaning of human life, one of the most important questions at the core of faith. So let’s embrace all the music we hear, from the song of a bird, to the pop music at a café, to the music we turn to when we are alone and to the music we share in worship together – knowing that music speaks to the heart and reaches outward, connecting us with each other, which is in itself holy.

Blessings, Rev. Emily Gordon

2017 10-19

Supply Minister Announcement

Rev. Warren McDougall retired from Team Ministry with Rev. Linda Butler in 2016. Posted with permission from Richmond Hill United Church


As you will have read in the Catching Up with Emily Gordon post, Emily is planning on taking pregnancy leave as she and Nikhil welcome the arrival of their new family member. The 17 week pregnancy leave will begin Nov. 14th, so she plans to be back in time for Easter, with Nikhil taking parental leave starting mid-March.

We are now pleased to announce that a supply minister has been chosen for the time Emily will be away. The Rev. Warren McDougall is a recently retired minister, who brings extensive ministry experience, mostly recently at Richmond Hill United Church. Warren and Emily have already begun meeting to ensure there is a smooth transition in November.

For those of you who would like to meet Warren before he begins on November 13th, be sure to join us for the October 29th worship service which Warren plans to attend. This service will also be a celebration of our past (the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, as well as the previous anniversary of Leaside United Church, and of the amalgamation of Presteign and Woodbine United Churches – of course, we now have a new anniversary for our new congregation in June!) and an opportunity to look forward to the new beginnings in our future. See you then!

2017 10-17

Spirit Alive – Saturday November 4, 2017

All welcome to gather for meditation, questioning and learning at Spirit Alive

on Saturday, November 4th, 2017

gathering at 10:00am to noon

at Leaside United Church.

Refreshments at the beginning will provide a sharing time.

On a regular basis Spirit Alive meets to explore matters of spirituality, meditate, and reflect together. Save the second Saturday morning of the month to meet at 10:00 to noon. Spirit Alive begins with coffee, snacks and fellowship followed by a period of led meditation, music, quiet time and reflection to deepen the sense of the spiritual at the center of one’s life. For more information contact Bea Lawford.

Ukuleles have arrived!

We are excited for this Sunday, October 15th at 10:30am! Six new ukuleles ready for our new “Learn to Play Ukulele” series as part of our Sunday morning children’s program! 🎶🎶 #creatingtogether #children

C-Flats Youth Jazz Band – Starting Monday, October 16th

Leaside United Church’s own C-Flats Youth Jazz Band is starting up again next week on Monday, October 16th! The age level of this group is generally grade 7 to grade 12. The rehearsals are every Monday evening from 7:15 to 8 pm in the music room at Leaside United Church 822 Millwood Road at McRae. All the parts are written specifically for the individual musicians, so all levels are welcome! Please contact the director of the band, Cynda Fleming for more information! 416-806-6488


C-Flats Jazz Band with Music Director Cynda Fleming at Leaside United Church Toronto

2017 10-10

Sunday Kid’s Program Update

Over the last four weeks the kids in Sunday program were asked to respond creatively to a variety of texts based on the creation story such as “When God was a Little Girl” by David Weiss and “God’s Dream” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. We asked the kids “What is your dream for the world?” … What these creative responses produced was outstanding and we now have a dream wall full of love, joy and peace. What is your dream for the world?

With blessings, Tanya Wiles-Bell

Looking for Sponsor

Below is a request for a potential sponsor for extended family members of a sponsored refugee family …

Good Afternoon,
… a friend is involved in two groups in Erin, Ontario sponsoring refugee families. One is here; one is coming.
She was working in a camp in Athens and got to know a young refugee travelling on his own named Nasser. He got to Canada as a refugee , lives in Scarborough and now works … for one of the copy companies.
… She is engaged now to try to find sponsors for Nasser’s extended family : two groups.
The SAH’s have used their 2017 quotas but are lining up applications to file in January 2018. Hence there is some urgency in this.
This friend asked if I could pass on a request to assist in one of two ways:

– Take on sponsorship of one family group. They will live in Scarborough in a building with several cousins. They have a good network to support themselves on non-financial adjustment. Barbara will assist.
– Fundraise all or part of $35,000 to fund the Erin group to sponsor the second family.
…. can you pass this to the broader network of groups that you are networked into, in case there is a group of people looking for a family to sponsor or a way to assist?

Many Thanks,
An LUCCRRC member

If you can help please contact: Bob and Lis Lister

Ibrahim Family Settling In: Refugee Update

It’s been a month since the Ibrahim family’s arrival in Canada! They arrived on August 10th. They have started adjusting to life in the City and have settled in their new home (which they love). Here’s a snap shot of what they’ve been up to:

1. Discovering the City: the family has already discovered many Toronto landmarks such as Woodbine Beach, Centre Island, Chinatown and (getting lost on) the TTC. Next up: Niagara Falls (see below)!

2. Language and Education: all members of the family completed language assessments and are enrolled in English as a Second Language classes, except the youngest one Simav, whose English is good enough to allow her to start high school right away (she started last week in grade 9/10 classes).

Ahmed and Mohammed (both age 21), who up until now had been meeting with an English tutor almost daily, are starting with level 1 ESL classes – they need to improve their English before starting adult high school classes to work towards their high school diplomas.

Like the boys, Ms. Ibrahim is attending daily ESL classes. She’s very eager to learn English and has already picked up some words and phrases!

Yasmin (age 22) has very good English language skills but still needs ESL classes to prepare for her high school assessment exam. She plans to take mandatory high school classes and then start a college/university program. She is in the process of researching post secondary programs and hopes to decide in the coming months what she wants to study. Prior to coming to Canada, she had studied 2 years of law in University. Like the boys, Ms. Ibrahim is attending daily ESL classes. She’s very eager to learn English and has already picked up some words and phrases!

Next steps and how you can get involved:

1. Activities: As noted above, the family is getting busy with school and language programs, but they are still eager to discover the city and the region. Here is what is in store for the next month or so:
a. They’re visiting Niagara Falls on September 24th!
b. The boys enjoy playing soccer (and they’re good at it!) so we are planning a soccer game on October 1st.

2. Math Tutor: We are looking for math tutors for Yasmin and Simav. Please let us know if you are able to assist or if you know of someone who can.

3. Employment Opportunities: We have started exploring part time employment options for Ahmed, Mohammed, and Yasmin. They’re all eager to start working! Ahmed and Mohammed are looking for any employment that is flexible (evenings and weekends) and that does not require a high level of English language skills. Yasmin is looking for any part-time job where she can practice her English. If you have any leads on jobs for any of them, please let us know.

4. Winter Clothing: we are looking for new or gently worn fall and winter clothing (women’s sizes small, medium, and large, and boys size medium). If you have suitable donations please let us know.

5. Financial Assistance: We continue to accept donations as the family settles in. If you would like to contribute financial support:
a) by cheque, make it payable to: “LEASIDE UNITED CHURCH” and write on the Memo Line – “Ibrahim Family” and mail to “Leaside United Church, 822 Millwood Road, Toronto, ON, M4G 1W4 OR
b) by website, via “” and the “DONATE” sign, including “Ibrahim Family” in the memo box.

The family has expressed their gratitude of your involvement and support many times over the last few weeks – your help is greatly appreciated!

2017 10-05

El Hogar Service Team


The LUC El Hogar Service Team is gearing up for its trip to Honduras March 2018. 

There will be a team ‘kick off’ meeting following Sunday Service Oct. 15, 2017 in the Conference Room.

We are particularly interested in having some youth join the team (15 yrs of age and up).

If you are interested please speak with Neal Kelly or attend the meeting.


El Hogar Kids

2017 10-04

Catching Up With Emily Gordon

At the end of the summer I sat down with our minister Emily Gordon to catch up after a whirlwind 16 months at Leaside United Church to take a breath and reflect on the time that has passed and what’s new for Emily and our new Leaside United Church. Here are some of the questions I asked and what her responses were.

Michele Petick, Webmaster

1. What have you learned in your time at Leaside United Church?

The willingness of people to try new things stands out most to me as something I have learned. There is still a love for traditions but the ease in which the congregations of both Leaside United and Presteign-Woodbine put energy into growing and testing new things out is wonderful. As an example we tried out a new type of worship this summer examining different religions and faith questions and our Sunday Worship was full of inquiring minds and a desire to learn more. We have many active ministries going on now with the new Environment/Climate Justice Group, the Arts and Crafts Drop-In Group and two Muslim Study groups. We are a busy church of action and intentional learning.

Something new for me has been the recent Affirming designation. This was an area I have been familiar with most of my life being a member of Bloor Street United Church but I haven’t experienced ministry at the early stage of the designation before. As a part of our continued commitment to learning we have invited a speaker to join us in November named Rev. Evan Smith who works with Toronto Urban Native Ministry, to talk about the First Nations understanding of Two Spirit. Watch for more details on this not to be missed Sunday.

2. When you worked with Rev. Rose Ann Vita what did you learn about her and her goals?

Rose Ann is an Intentional Interim Minister and she specializes in the type of Ministry we required with the coming together of Leaside and Presteign-Woodbine United. Rose Ann has had special training in transition and discernment. Congregations need this specialized minister to seek guidance with questions like “What do we do in the future?” as in the example of say a long time minister leaving a congregation for retirement. There are issues of grief and questions like “Now who do we want to be?”. Rose Ann is skilled at these types of transitions and creates specific goals with the congregations she works with to help them get to the other side of their questions. Rose Ann is one of a small number of Intentional Interim Ministers in Ontario. Her contract ended with Presteign-Woodbine United Church and Leaside United Church on August 31st. She was called to another Interim Ministry position within two weeks of finishing her work with us. She is now has a two year contract at Emmanuel United Church in Brampton, Ontario. The timing could not have been better for her and we thanked her and wished her and the new congregation she is working with all the best.

3. You are pregnant with your first child. What stories of faith will be the first you share with your child?

Definitely not Noah’s Ark!

Parables like the Good Samaritan are reminders of what is central to living our faith. Most important I think will be telling my child stories that embody the core of our faith that “God IS Love”. I want my child to know about Jesus’ radical thinking, welcome, inclusion, challenging society’s perception at times and that all people matter.



4. What is your plan for pregnancy leave from Leaside United Church?

Ontario offers two leaves, Pregnancy Leave of 17 weeks (available to the birthing parent) and Parental Leave of 35 weeks (which can be taken by either parent or shared) for a total of 52 weeks. I am due at the end of November and will begin Pregnancy Leave on November 14, 2017 and will return on March 13, 2018 (in time for Easter 2018 celebrations on April 1st). Transition of ministry at Leaside United Church will occur on November 14th with the Supply Minister (currently being selected by the Search Team). We are right on track with this timing. My partner, Nikhil, is looking forward to Parental Leave with our child after I finish Pregnancy Leave. I’m grateful to the LUC staff, search team, and Nikhil for everything they’re doing to make this plan work, and there is flexibility if things change.

5. How are you feeling physically, mentally and spiritually about this part of your story and becoming a mother?

My pregnancy is typical and uneventful so far at seven months. In the beginning I read a lot of pregnancy books and ended up with information overload. Now I’m mostly focusing on doing what I can and staying true to who I am. Most of the books and websites I came across are still hetero-normative and don’t honour same sex relationships or other possibilities, which needs to change. There’s also a lot of attention on the consumption aspects of parenting (all the things we supposedly need to buy to take the best care of the child) as well as on the ways I somehow need to make motherhood my defining characteristic. Do I really need to keep a pregnancy journal to show my child I’m thinking about them? Having children is a choice Nikhil and I made, and which we’re really happy about, but it’s not a general statement of what I think is most important in life.




LAST BOOK(S): Gunpowder Alchemy and Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin, which are steampunk books, a relatively new genre based on clockwork, steam technology, science fiction, Victorian society images and ideas, often with female protagonists who challenge gender expectations by becoming inventors and adventurers. Lin’s books take place in mid 19th century China, a counter to the lack of racial and cultural diversity in writers and settings in the genre.

LAST MEAL: Boiled Egg, Toast, Fruit & Yogurt

LAST CONVERSATION: With my mom, talking about my parents going on a short holiday up north.

LAST PURCHASE: Chocolate Bar … an Oh Henry Bar

LAST FILM WATCHED: A Bollywood movie Nikhil and I went to see at the theatre, I can’t remember the name of it right now. On our “to watch list” is a movie called “Menashe” set in New York’s Hasidic Jewish community centering around the struggles of one man after losing custody of his son when his wife passes away.

Emily is available and welcomes a visit if you would like to talk about something on your mind or have questions of faith or just questions of any kind. She would like to meet with as many people as she can from the congregation before she goes on Pregnancy Leave in November. Contact her by phone or email at or 647-303-6709.

Keep your eye on church emails and the website for news about our supply minister, as well as about our opportunity to celebrate together Emily and Nikhil’s expected new arrival. A Baby Shower Open House is planned for Saturday November 4th, 2017 from 1-3pm more details to come.



2017 10-03

Sharon Beckstead at Yorkminster Noonday Recital

2017 09-30

Busy Creative Hands!

There were many busy creative hands at the first Arts and Crafts Group gathering last week at Leaside United Church! Talents included crocheters, knitters, wreath makers, felters, and miniaturists! Makers were making baby bunting, socks, scarves, Wise men, Christmas trees and Halloween wreathes. Look for details of the next meeting to be held at the end of October.

2017 09-29

A Great Night for El Hogar

Seeking Employment

Job-Seeking Support Needed For The Father of A Young Syrian Family Sponsored By LUC

The following is a professional summary of the father:

~ +8 Years of Experience in Executive Administrative Assistance

~ 6+ yrs. as an Executive Assistant in a public transportation company;

~ 2 yrs. as Executive Secretary in a legal firm; Writing skills; Excellent Communication skills;

~ Problem Solving skills; Quick Learner; Detail-oriented and Time Management;

~ Fast and Accurate Typing and Data Entry skills; Strong Document Filing experience;

~ MS Word, MS Outlook, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel;

~ Bachelor in English, Mother Tongue: Arabic

A detailed resume will be forwarded upon request. Thanks for your support.
Bob and Lis Lister

2017 09-26

LUCYouth Retreat 2017

This past weekend was an awakening success for the Leaside United annual youth retreat at Camp Big Canoe in Bracebridge.  The theme this year was Star Wars: The Forces Awakens which included cameos from Luke Skywalker and Rey.  Participants practiced balance, finding inner peace, wisdom, strength, community building & delicious food along their journey!

The heat allowed for all participants to don their bathing suits for the first time in eight years to take a dip in the beautiful Hart Lake.  (Historically it’s hoody, hats and track pants weather during the retreat weekend!).

It was a fabulous weekend spent with awesome humans! A huge thank you to volunteers who did the cooking & leading!

Tanya Wiles-Bell

Volunteer Hour

Every Thursday in the Church Office, we are having a “Volunteer Hour” from 10:00-11:00am.  If you are free to assist with small, easy administrative tasks, please stob by!  Tasks could include folding bulletins, straightening office supplies, stuffing mailouts, etc.  Thank you in advance for helping our church run smoothly!