The Revs. Smiths’ Message for September 20, 2020

Dear Friends, The children, youth and teachers are back to their studies, whether in person or online. Uncertainties about class sizes, bussing and protocols fill the air. Days are getting shorter and colder and we know that our backyard or park visit days are numbered. And the numbers testing positive for COVID-19 are rising. All of this can be discouraging and stressful.

“The Playground” (first half of 19th century) by Swiss painter Jacques-Laurent Agasse (1767–1849); from the collection of the Kunst Museum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland; taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

When David’s first wife berated him for leaping and dancing before the ark of the Lord, David responds that it was the right thing to do, considering all God had done for him. “Therefore will I play before the Lord,” he tells her. (2 Samuel 6: 14-21)

When God talks about renewing Jerusalem he describes its future glory by saying “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.” (Zechariah 8:5)

When the Psalmist praises God’s creative power he talks of the great and wide sea, and all the creatures in it, and he makes special mention of Leviathan, “Whom,” as he says, “thou hast made to play therein” (Psalm 104:25-26).
The king, the children, the whale, are not being productive as we, with our protestant work ethic, understand that word. They are just playing, letting themselves go and having a great time.

In these stressful, and sometimes discouraging times, don’t forget to play. It’s Biblical.

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the September 19, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

Preach for the Call Update

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are not able to proceed with the planned activities with our Candidate this weekend, September 26 and 27.   

The Saturday Question and Answer Session is cancelled, as is the congregational meeting that was planned for Sunday.  We will have a regular worship service on Sunday at 11 am, led by the Rev. Helen Smith.

Given the circumstances, the search process for a new minister at Guildwood is on indefinite hold.  We will keep you informed as things develop, and will continue under the leadership and guidance of the Revs. Bob and Helen Smith.

A reminder that it is still important to keep the Candidate’s name confidential.  

A version of this message first appeared in the September 21, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

Letter about our preach for the call weekend September 26–27

Please see this update that was published on September 22, 2020.

September 8, 2020

Dear Friends:

We are delighted to let you know that the Session has extended an invitation to the our preferred candidate (“Our Candidate”) to preach for the call to be Minister at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.  Our Candidate was the unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee after considering over 25 potential applicants from across Canada and overseas.

Preaching for the call will involve Our Candidate leading worship on Sunday, September 27, at 11:00 AM, a service which will also be simulcast on-line via streaming media. On Saturday, September 26, at 2 PM, Our Candidate will take part in a simultaneous in-person and virtual (the latter via Zoom video conferencing) question and answer session that will allow members of our community of faith to interact with her.

Following the service on Sunday, September 27, there will be a simultaneous in-person and virtual (the latter again via Zoom video conferencing) meeting of the congregation to vote on whether or not to extend the call to Our Candidate.  Assuming the meeting votes in favour of extending a call, members and adherents will be asked to sign a list signifying their agreement with the call.

In order to maintain current distancing requirements, in-person attendance at the question and answer session on September 26 and the worship service and congregational meeting on September 27 must be restricted.  If you wish to attend either of those functions, you must RSVP to Office Administrator Lisa Milroy at the church office by telephone at 416-261-4037 (office hours 12:30–4:30 PM, Monday–Friday) or by email. Only those who have been confirmed by the office in advance will be allowed to enter the church for those two functions.

The Q&A session, worship service and congregational meeting as noted all will be available on-line for those not able to attend in person.  Details on connecting will be provided via our e-mail newsletter Tidbits the week prior.  If you do not currently subscribe to Tidbits, please sign up.

For the question and answer session we are asking that you submit questions for Our Candidate in advance; they can be communicated through Lisa at the church office, or by emailing them (if emailing, use the special email address set up for the purpose in the preceding link; click or use “”). There will not be an opportunity to present questions in-person; please make sure your questions are submitted in advance.

These events mark significant progress in our search for a new minister, and your participation in the process is vital.  Please participate as you are able, and pray for Our Candidate, for our community of faith, for our Search Committee and our Session as we make these decisions.

In the continuing uncertainty in which we are living, let us accept God’s guidance, wisdom and peace through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Bob and Helen

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith – Interim Moderators

A version of this letter first appeared in the September 11, 2020 edition of Tidbits.

Resignation of Christian Education Coordinator Laura Alary

After eight wonderful years as our Christian Education Coordinator, Laura Alary has submitted her resignation. We thank Laura for her dedication and service to our children and youth, and may God bless her in her future endeavours.

Headshot of Laura Alary
Laura Alary

The Education and Nurture Committee will meet shortly to discuss next steps for our Christian Education programme.

This message first appeared in the August 29, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for September 6, 2020

Dear Friends, 

The days of summer are drawing to a close.  Oh yes, mentally we can tell ourselves that we have three more weeks, but emotionally we know better.

“Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer)” (1890–1891) by French painter Claude Monet (1840–1926); from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago; taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

Summer ends with Labour Day Weekend, the Air Show at the Ex, and the first day of school.

Now, as has been the case for the last six months, we know things are a little different this year. No Ex, no Air Show, and school openings have been delayed a week. We move into the fall, some with a bit of apprehension, some with more than a bit of stress with regard to the uncertainties of the future and most of us wishing the threat of Covid-19 was long behind us.

As we mourn the end of summer and as we anxiously anticipate returning to something that is not the norm as usual, we pass on to you this quote that a good friend sent to us this week:

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grains to give bread, broken bread to give strength.

Vance Havner, quoted by The Contemplative Monk

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the September 3, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for August 30, 2020

Dear Friends;

After five months of not seeing one another for worship as a congregation, we have now been back together for two Sundays, and while it has been a smaller congregation than we have been accustomed to, those who have been there seemed to appreciate it very much. 

There is a different feel to it — not being able to sing out the hymns feels wrong somehow, and the smaller group leaves a little too much elbow room.  But it has been wonderful to reconnect after being apart so long, and we have appreciated the enthusiastic spirit in the sanctuary that comes from being truly together as a community of faith. 

People in pews standing at a church service with outstretched arms miming hugs
Mimed congregational hugs in progress on August 16, 2020

The group hug (at a distance!) on our first morning back was something to behold.

Great care has been given to help us make this step safely, and we appreciate very much the work of the session committee of Bruce Morrison, Cindy Similas, and Craig and Karen Siddall, together with the church staff, for all the precautions that they have put in place.  Their work, and the cooperation of all in attendance, have helped make all of us feel confident that we are indeed safe. 

If you are comfortable with all these precautions, we would love to see you, and if not, we plan to continue for now to provide online and delivered printed worship resources for you to use in your homes.

Wherever we are, and whatever form our worship takes, we are one body in Christ, bound to one another in the faith and fellowship that we share.

Grace and peace to you all,

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the August 29, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for August 23, 2020

Bob and three of his siblings are keeping track of their walking during this pandemic. So far, cumulatively, they have walked 5,463 kilometres, which, as one of them has pointed out, is the straight-line distance from the front door of the home they grew up in in Cambridge, ON, to Gretna on the border between Scotland and England.

Walking is a great way to savour God’s summer. It gets us outside. It is relatively easy to physically distance. And a good walk is full of nature’s surprises.

Two people walking on a path in the Ashuapmushuan Wildlife Reserve, Quebec, Canada. Image author: 0x010C.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

However you go about savouring God’s summer, here’s a blessing to take with you on the way, from Meister Eckhart, a German theologian and mystic from the fourteenth century:

Apprehend God in all things,
for God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God
and is a book about God.

Every creature is a word of God.

If I spent time with the tiniest creature,
even a caterpillar, I would never have
to prepare a sermon.

So full of God is every creature.

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the August 21, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

We’re back in the sanctuary for worship

Woman standing at a lectern
Rev. Helen Smith at the lectern

This past Sunday, August 16, 2020 , marked our return to the sanctuary for worship for the first time since March. There was a message from Rev. Helen Smith, a scripture reading from Duty Elder Bonnie Horton, music from Music Director Rachelle Risling and Brooks Gorst, and fellowship.

Woman at at organ next to man at a grand piano playing a duet in a church at a service
Rachelle Risling and Brooks Gorst playing a duet

Naturally there were lots of virtual hugs.

Thanks to Clerk of Session Bruce Morrison and Rachelle for taking a few pictures for us to share!

Did I mention the virtual hugs?

And if you’d like to listen to some of the music that was played, here is Rachelle on the piano with an arrangement of “This Is My Father’s World”.

Meditation of “This Is My Father’s World” performed on the piano in the sanctuary of GCPC during the live worship service of August 16, 2020, by Rachelle Risling, Music Director of GCPC.
  • This is My Father’s World”. Text (1901) by American Presbyterian minister Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858–1901). Set to music (tune: “Terra Beata”) in 1915 by American Presbyterian hymn-writer Franklin L. Sheppard (1852–1930), based on a traditional English melody
  • This arrangement © 1998 Pilot Point Music; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
  • Video recording © copyright 2020 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend, or did not feel comfortable doing so, you can consult the virtual worship service for August 16, 2020.

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for August 16, 2020

We can remember well the shock in mid-March when the government announcement was made that school kids, who were already on their spring break, would have that break extended two more weeks because of COVID-19. If we had not yet realized the profound effect the pandemic would have on us all, that may have been the wake-up call.

Here we are five months later, and those school children have yet to see the inside of one of their classrooms. And with the planned opening of schools just three weeks away, many are wondering what that will look like, and whether it will happen at all.

As anxious as we all are to return to some kind of “normal”, it seems that the angst around this issue is palpable. With our granddaughter ready to start junior kindergarten, and our older son an elementary school music teacher, the questions hit close to home for us. How big will class sizes be? Will masks be required? What will the schedule look like? What safeguards will be in place for students, teachers and staff? Will I want my children to be there at all? And what about daycare if children are not in school?

The matter touches the lives of so many of us, and the complexity and enormity of the decisions that need to be made are overwhelming.

“The Great Commission”, based on Matthew 28:16–20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (emphasis added). Parchment ca. 1010 by a master of the Reichenau Abbey School; from the collection of the Bavarian State Library, Munich; taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

What can we do as people of faith?

  • We could start by trying to make the best decisions we can with the information we have
  • We can remember that God has promised to be with us, and that through the most barren of deserts, and darkest of valleys, the witness of the people of God is that God is faithful
  • We can reach out to one another to help, support and hold others around us, and if we are in need, not to be afraid to ask for help.
  • We can pray for all who are touched by this crisis – government leaders, school boards, administrators, school teachers and other staff, students, parents and their families… all of us – that we would be well, and that through collaboration and support we will get through this together.

May God’s grace and peace be with us all.

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the August 15, 2020, edition of Tidbits.