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.

Welcome back to Sunday Worship in-person on August 16, 2020

We are happy that we can once again gather at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church this Sunday, August 16, at 10:00 AM for an in-person worship service, led by Rev. Helen Smith.  

We need your help to make the service a joyous and safe occasion for all who choose to attend, and have created a web page with details and instructions on such things as:

  • how we are communicating these details
  • what services will be offered or not offered, such as no coffee hour
  • how one should attend in the reduced-capacity setting (30% capacity)
  • how to enter the building and be seated, for example you will need to provide your name upon entry
  • what you should do and not do during the service, like avoid singing along with hymns
  • how to exit after the service
  • how to use the washroom
  • and what will happen with ancillary spaces, like the lounge

Please take a moment to read the full details should you decide to attend in-person, and we look forward to seeing you.

Members of the congregation who are not comfortable attending in-person worship should not do so; no one is under any pressure to return to worship. We will continue to post worship resources online and deliver to those who have requested.

This message first appeared as a special issue of Tidbits on August 12, 2020

GCPC Covid-19 Reopening Protocols for August 16, 2020

The Session has indicated a return to public worship as of Sunday August 16, 2020.  The safety of all is of paramount importance as we resume worship.  These protocols, established in consultation with local health regulations and resources from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, shall apply to in-person worship services until such time as the Session may change them.


  • The congregation will be advised by announcement in the e-mail Tidbits newsletter and via the website of the return to in-person worship, and the guidelines for worship.
  • Members of the congregation who are not comfortable attending in-person worship should not do so; no one is under any pressure to return to worship.  We will continue to post worship resources on-line and deliver to those who have requested.
  • Members of the congregation who are exhibiting symptoms or feel they may have been exposed to someone who has symptoms or has a confirmed case of Covid-19 must not attend in person worship.
  • Those attending in-person worship must follow the established protocols and the directions of worship leaders while in the building.  Worship leaders (minister, duty elder, ushers, greeters, and Elders) will ask anyone not following these guidelines to leave.

Worship Services

The following activities normally associated with worship will not be taking place until a future date: 

  • Sunday School/Children’s Program/Youth Program
  • Nursery
  • Coffee/Fellowship Hour
  • Committee meetings before or after worship
  • Group singing (including choir)

Children may attend but their parents/caregivers are responsible for ensuring they remain seated and follow physical distancing guidelines throughout the service.

Attendance and Capacity

  • Worship services will be held in the Sanctuary with a maximum permitted occupancy of 75 people including worship leaders. (30% of capacity). 
  • Family groups (same household) may sit together, but people from different families will be seated a minimum of six feet apart from each other – distancing configurations may reduce the usable capacity.

Building Entry and Seating

  • The building will be open for seating 30 minutes prior to the start of the worship service.
  • All worshippers are to enter via the north (parking lot) entrance.  The usher/greeters will ensure that entry to the building is done in an orderly manner that respects physical distancing guidelines.  If required, worshippers will be asked to line up outside in a physically distanced queue to enter the building.
  • All worshippers will be asked to sanitize their hands and report their contact information for tracing purposes upon entry (usher/greeters).
  • All worshippers are required to wear masks and are strongly encouraged to bring their own mask.
  • All worshippers will be guided to an appropriate seating location in the sanctuary, respecting physical distancing requirements. (usher/greeters and duty elder will assign seating)
  • All worshippers must have a designated seating space.
  • All worshippers will be asked to remain in their designated place and not mingle or wander.
  • No one shall be permitted to enter the building once capacity is reached.
  • Access to the sanctuary will be restricted five minutes after the start of the worship service.

During Service

  • Bulletins, hymn books and Bibles will not be available for use.
  • Please do not sing along with the hymns.  Group singing is a high-risk activity.
  • Please keep your mask on at all times.
  • Offering plates will not be passed but will be located by the entrances/exits of the sanctuary – please place your offerings on the plate. We strongly encourage online donations via our website or using the Pre-Authorized Remittance program (PAR).   Please avoid using cash for your offering.
  • Please follow the directions of our worship leaders to protect the safety of all.

Building Exit

  • At the conclusion of the worship service, worshippers will be dismissed in groups (duty elder). Please remain seated until you are dismissed.
  • All who are able are to exit via the south (Guildwood Parkway) door of the sanctuary.
  • Anyone who has a mobility impairment that requires them to exit via the north lobby will be asked to wait until all other worshippers have left the building.
  • Worshippers are asked to dispose of any tissues, masks, etc. in the garbage containers provided and not litter on church or neighbouring properties.
  • Worshippers are to depart the premises immediately after worship, and not congregate on the lawn or in the parking lot.


  • Washrooms are available for use in cases of urgent need.
  • One person at a time in the washroom.
  • Please do not congregate in the hallway outside the washrooms.
  • Please use disinfecting wipes and wipe down any surfaces you contact in the washroom (toilet seat, flush handle, taps, door handles, etc.) when leaving.
  • Always practice safe hand-washing techniques.

Ancillary spaces

  • The office, lounge, meeting room, kitchen, church hall and nursery will be closed and are out of bounds during worship services.

The Session of Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
August 7, 2020

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for August 9, 2020

It is an idea born out of fear, anxiety and disease.

When Covid 19 hit, Renfrew County started up VTS — Virtual Triage System, where paramedics go into the homes of those without family doctors, those who have difficulty getting to the doctor, and/or do not want to sit in waiting rooms, or those who don’t need or want an Emergency Room visit. The paramedics provide a friendly face to those who live alone. They take blood for testing, administer shots and just generally check up on people. The authorities, imagining new ways to care for people at home so that they can recover at home, are calling it a better way to deliver healthcare.

“Calling of the Apostles” (1481), fresco at the Sistine Chapel by Italian painter Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448–1494); taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

In the church, are we also learning new, better, ways of doing things? Can some work be handled quite easily over a ZOOM meeting? Probably, although we still miss the fellowship of meeting in person.

What are we learning about using technology to reach beyond our borders, to learn of life from others beyond our borders? Are we discovering creative ideas for worship? What are we learning about the importance of keeping in touch and about ways we can do that, in a world of physical distancing? What have we learned about what is important to hang on to, and what can we let go – at least for now?

As this peculiar time continues on and on, God grant us inquisitive spirits, open to new ways of following Jesus and participating in the work of God’s kingdom.

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

This message first appeared in the August 8, 2020, edition of Tidbits.

The Revs. Smiths’ Message for August 2, 2020

Major League Baseball has finally started up and the first pitch thrown, about four months late.

The Blue Jays’ home field this season is in Buffalo.  And worst of all, they lost their season opener.  What is wrong with this picture?

As Hamlet said, “the times are out of joint.”

There is a lot that feels out of joint these days, and it goes far deeper than baseball.  There is our isolation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly difficult for the church where so much focus is placed on the community of faith.

There is our impatience regarding when we will be given the green light to move back toward “normal,” along with our fear that the loosening of restrictions will bring on a second wave, threatening us or our loved ones.  It can leave us wondering:  Where do we go? What can we do?

I have always loved the hope and confidence of Isaiah 40:31:

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

It’s not easy to wait, but pausing, reflecting, focussing on God and the Word, can give us some perspective, remind us of how God has guided us in the past, and assure us that we are not alone as we move through these out-of-joint times. May the peace of God be with you.

Rev. Bob Smith

This message first appeared in the August 1, 2020, edition of Tidbits.