|Posted by Harmony United Church on June 21, 2020 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
Minister's Message June 17th, 2020
Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
It has been three months since our last worship service in the sanctuary of Harmony United Church, and we don't know when it will be safe to gather for in-person worship again. We are hopeful we may be able to do so in the fall if all the necessary protocols are in place, but of course plans will need to be changed if there is a second wave of the pandemic. With this uncertainty it is a challenge to heed the words of Jesus and not “get worked up” about it. His words are particularly relevant in our current situation. I believe he is telling us to relax, and let go of any notion that we can take control and make things fit into our timetable and plans.
So what can we do? Jesus urges us to pay close attention to what God is doing right now, right around us. There are so many examples to give us hope. The bountiful regeneration of our forests and gardens, the kindness of friends and strangers, the new connections and relationships being formed through social media and video-conferencing and online worship services – these are but a few of many miracles happening in our community and in our world. Many of our church members have told me how nice it is to have time for more leisurely conversations with other people, and a number are enjoying life with less pressure to rush to the next activity. That is not to say that others are not missing regular visits with friends and family. Perhaps God is prompting you to pick up the phone and call someone.
We are fortunate to be part of a strong United Church network in our city and region. Our online worship is inspiring and our Zoom meetings provide good information and support. Last Sunday our shared worship included a covenanting service for Rev. Louise Hart and First-Wesley UC. There will be another covenanting service by Zoom, for Selina Mullin and St. John's UC in Marathon, on June 24 at 7:00 p.m. I look forward to the time when Harmony will also have a covenanting celebration, when Rev. Mastard Sakala is able to join us.
In the meantime, let us appreciate God's good gifts and daily opportunities. God is with us, and will help us deal with whatever may happen tomorrow.
May God's peace be with you,
Rev. Joyce Fergus-Moore
|Posted by Harmony United Church on June 15, 2020 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
Minister's Message - June 10th, 2020
“God blesses our lives with moments so full of joy
that they get us through the rest of it .”
(Nora Sanders, General Secretary, U.C.C.)
Today is the 95th anniversary of the United Church of Canada, a joining together of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches whose members believed they could better serve God in unity rather than in separate communities. Over the ensuing years much good has been accomplished, though not without struggle.
As we face personal and societal challenges today, I believe we need the support of our church community as much as ever. When we hear of so many problems in our world it's easy to become cynical and to give in to a state of hopelessness. That is a kind of easy, safe stance to take – above the fray, looking down on all that's happening. But it is not a good place to be, for it leads us to be judgmental, and to feel alone and helpless. Our faith urges us to reject cynicism and pray for ways to be part of positive solutions.
Listening as others share their stories and thoughts, reading inspiring books, and watching good films can all help us renew our sense of hope. Through prayer we open ourselves to blessings of comfort and peace, and sometimes surprising ideas of what we may do, or how we may change our understanding of things. We need to pray in quiet solitude at times, but we also need our faith community – we need the support, example, and challenge of one another. It is good to visit other churches' online worship services, but I hope you will continue to keep as close an involvement with our local church as possible. This is where we live out our calling as the family of God.
This week I have been overwhelmed with gratitude at the very positive response to an invitation that Peter and I sent out asking if anyone would like to support the people of Palestine by buying their fair trade olive oil. This is a small thing we can do which demonstrates great love. It makes a huge difference in the lives of Palestinian farmers struggling to make a living in their occupied territory, and helps to keep hope alive.
God bless you as you find joy where you can, and nourish hope in yourselves and in neighbours near and far.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on June 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
June 11, 2020
Harmony United Community of Faith
As you have most likely heard, the Ontario government has begun implementing Stage 2 of the
province’s recovery plan. This includes permitting places of worship to hold services, up to a
maximum capacity of 30% of the building capacity. However, social distancing regulations do remain
in effect and may impact the proper use of our sanctuary and limit the number of worshippers to less
than the 30%. This is yet to be determined.
We will NOT be having in-person worship this Sunday, June 14th.
There is still much to do before we can establish a definitive return to the sanctuary.
The Board has already begun working on this and requests your prayers and assistance.
We have received guidelines from the Canadian Shield Regional Council and we are working to
develop procedures and protocols for our congregation. We also learned that most of the
congregations in our Region are not planning to re-open their doors until after Labour Day.
Following is an outline of some of the steps needed to have in-person worship at this time (not
-thoroughly clean the sanctuary and public spaces before and after services
-hand sanitizer available, and must be used upon entering and leaving the building
-masks to be worn by ALL those attending (no exceptions)
-greeters at the door to ask screening questions before persons will be allowed to enter (those who
are sick or who have recently travelled will not be allowed entry)
-volunteers needed to record name, phone number and seating location of each attendee
-seating arranged for social distancing – ie pews marked for 6’ intervals; all space greater than 30% of
capacity will be blocked off
-single-file entry and exit
-no hugging or handshaking
-no close contact with minister
-no fellowship hour
-limited use of washrooms (volunteers will need to monitor and clean frequently)
As you can see we will be needing lots of volunteers and we are very concerned about maintaining
the safety of all who attend our services. We will therefore, for the immediate future, continue with our
online presence in worship with trinityunited.church/livestream, email updates and messages from
Rev. Joyce and the Board, and continue to encourage everyone to maintain contact with each other
through phone calls, texts and emails.
The Board, Rev. Joyce, Patricia and all our committees value your prayers, input and assistance. The
church building might be closed, but the work of the church and of the people of God continues. Let
us even now share the gifts of God and serve the world!!
Ruth Kamo, Chair of Worship
PS - take a drive by and see the newly planted gardens at the Harmony and Current River Sites
Oh yes, your offerings are also cheerfully accepted. Thank you for your needed and most welcome
contributions during this time. You can leave them in the mailbox and/or ring the doorbell to get
Patricia’s attention in the office.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on June 1, 2020 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
May 27th, 2020
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
anointing me to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.”
These words quoted by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, were an important part of my ordination to the Ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care in the United Church of Canada. The ordination service took place 30 years ago on May 27, 1990. It was another step along the way of my great faith adventure. I had just completed a four-year Master of Divinity degree at St. Andrew's College, U. of S., in Saskatoon, although my education is really a lifelong process – as it is for all of us. I have had many interesting, challenging, and fun times, and have been privileged to serve alongside so many wonderful people in congregations in southern Manitoba, Nipigon and Red Rock, and in Thunder Bay (before and after official retirement in 2013!) I am so pleased to be serving in a gap appointment at Harmony UC, a congregation courageous enough to have taken the step of amalgamation and to explore together how to carry out Jesus' mission in the world.
I began two weeks of study leave May 18th, and have been so inspired by taking part in a virtual conference called “Preaching a New Earth: Climate and Creation”. Each day included thoughtful and uplifting worship followed by several wonderful speakers. The lectures focused on climate change and our response as stewards of creation; our faith and the global pandemic; and dealing with stress and anxiety. At the conclusion of each day there was an amazing musical offering from a whole range of talented folks.
I was so engaged with this conference that I took 28 pages of notes, hurriedly scribbled, so it's fortunate I was able to order a recording of all the lectures for future reference. This week I am reflecting on all the ideas presented, and I'm reminded of how soul-feeding and mind-expanding it is to keep on learning in the company of other seekers.
I pray for you, the Harmony United Church family, every day, and look forward to when we can gather together again. God bless you.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on May 14, 2020 at 4:55 PM||comments (0)|
May 14th, 2020
“Many are the light beams from the one light...
Many are the gifts given, love is all one...
Many ways to serve God, the Spirit is one...
Many are the members, the body is one...
We are one in Christ.”
(Voices United #588)
These beautiful words were written in the year 252 (!) by Cyprian of Carthage; a long time ago and yet, the message is as important as ever.
With the huge changes thrust upon us by the global pandemic, we are becoming acutely aware of our need for one another. As a church community we are struggling to find new ways to worship and to live our faith in the context of physical distancing. One amazing response to this challenge has been the development of shared online worship services of the United Churches in the Thunder Bay area. Worship leaders meet by videoconference to plan each week's worship service, with representatives from the churches offering to write and/or present different parts of the liturgy. We now have participation by Pinegrove, Broadway, Trinity, St. Paul's, Westminster, First-Wesley, and Harmony United Church.
Just imagine – such a diversity of gifts involved in creating a variety of worship experiences. So far, no fights! Seriously, there is a wonderful spirit of cooperation and respect, with encouragement of those who are perhaps less confident and experienced to give it a go, with lots of support. The Spirit is truly at work, and calling us to come together as one body with many unique and special parts.
On Sunday, May 17th, our church will be specially involved in the online service. I hope you will be able to tune in to it via the website at 10:30 a.m. at www.trinityunited.church/livestream, or through Facebook. Harmony UC is providing the music. Though we cannot have our full choir present, the service will give a sense of Harmony's unique musical sensibilities. Also, Peter and I enjoyed preparing and delivering the Scripture readings, and we look forward to seeing how it all evolves in our shared virtual worship this Sunday.I am keeping all of you in my prayers.
As our new creed assures us,“God is with us. We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.”
God bless you,
(Rev.) Joyce Fergus-Moore
|Posted by Harmony United Church on May 7, 2020 at 2:40 PM||comments (0)|
On Mondays, @ 10:00 a.m. several folks are gathering to plant
the 14 garden beds at the Current River site. We plant onion sets and
carrots only. The beds have already been dug and dressed with manure
(thanks to Helen and Brad) so now we proceed to the next phase. The
produce from the garden usually goes to the Food Cupboard, of which
Harmony UC is a participant. This year, depending on the Covid-19
situation, the produce may go to the Regional Food Distribution
Association instead. If anyone is interested in planting, weeding or
watering beginning May 11th, please come to the church with your own
tools (hoe, rake, gloves) between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. each Monday. A
good productive way to begin your week! All welcome. Please call
Christina Stricker @ 683-6696 to confirm.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on May 7, 2020 at 2:40 PM||comments (0)|
From Christina Stricker …
I received a brief note from Rev. Sakala yesterday. He expressed his appreciation for the photos I sent and shared the family's excitement at becoming part of the Harmony Family. They all chuckled at the Balloon-Head choir and enjoyed the creativity expressed. (Thanks to Ruth and Richard for that one!)
Some of the photos I sent included 'eating with church folks' pictures - he remarks that one of his professors in the past once said 'a strong church will always have a good kitchen'. When I asked if his congregation celebrated by eating as often as we seem to he replied that they ate together for Special occasions as 'we do not find it easy to prepare a meal for over 300 people every Sunday'!!! I wonder how they will respond to our coffee times, for about 50+ people, usually every Sunday. I'm sure they will all enjoy the fellowship time we share.
I did include one of my own photos of one of those mornings when the fluffy snow sits on everything like pillows and is so beautiful. I asked whether the family would be delighted or horrified. He responded that although he has been in snow no one else in the family has experienced it: they are excited enough to be looking forward to coming into physical contact with snow rather than just seeing it in movies and books. Their only question was 'what do you do when you wake up I the morning and you find the car buried in snow?'
Rev. and his family try to keep up with the whole COVID event around the world but especially how it affects Canada and the steps being taken as we all work our way through.
Finally, the family appreciate the prayers and kindnesses we offer by our friendship and they look forward to the time when we can 'recognize one another in person'.
So that is the most recent update to share.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on May 7, 2020 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
May 6th, 2020
“In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.”
W. H. Auden (last stanza of his poem “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”
Friends, even if we too may feel like we are isolated and imprisoned
because of the global pandemic, it is vital to remember that freedom
is a state of mind and a gift of the Spirit. We have the freedom to
dream, and to use our God-given imaginations to bring our dreams
to life. What visions do we have for our own lives – our activities
and friendships – and what hopes do we have for our church's life?
Is the extent of our dreaming limited to simply going back to how
things were, or is God giving us a chance to dream of how things
I pray that God will keep you safe and well, and that the Holy Spirit
will guide your dreams and imaginings. In the church year this
coming Sunday is celebrated as Christian Family Sunday. Please be
assured that you are an important and loved member of our faith
God bless you,
|Posted by Harmony United Church on May 6, 2020 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
From Linda Hammond .....
Heather and I have been cleaning out the front gardens and we were wondering
if you could send out a plea to members see if they could contribute Flowers
cuttings, seeds or bulbs, soil, fertilizer, garden ornaments, or even a lawn
They could leave in a container at the door or call me at my number.
Please label what the plants are.
We are have been digging out the roots of the old trees, and that's taking
We have such a lovely church on the corner, with an awesome sign, so want to
keep this alive and growing for us and the community.
We might even plant garden seeds or sunflowers and scarlet runners.
|Posted by Harmony United Church on April 30, 2020 at 4:55 PM||comments (0)|
April 30th, 2020
“I meant to do my work today
But a brown bird sang in an apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field
And all the leaves were calling me.”
This Sunday seven weeks will have passed since we last gathered
in person in our church. Seven weeks of self-isolation in our homes,
and physical distancing when outside. We are fortunate in many
ways – we can connect by telephone, and for those who have the
appropriate technology, we can participate in online worship
services and virtual meetings with family or friends. We have good
community services and wonderful neighbours, sufficient food and
Nevertheless, the effects of this global pandemic are emotionally
and physically exhausting for many of us. We hear bad news, we
feel helpless, and feel we must somehow try harder to make things
better. Our sleep may be disturbed, and we wonder if this will ever
Maybe we are trying too hard, and in danger of slipping into despair.
I love the simple message in the little poem quoted above. God
speaks to us through nature, inviting us to slow down, take time out
from our striving and worrying, and notice all the signs of spring.
All creatures great and small have something to teach us – like
birds overcoming unimaginable hardships to survive the winter and
now building nests to nurture a new generation.
Trees and flowers and butterflies all gift us with a reminder that life
goes on in beautiful and mysterious ways. Our sense of hope is
renewed as we see the transformation of the earth in spring. It is
just as God intends. Yes, there are huge challenges for us as a
human family, but with faith we will find the best ways to face them
together, in a spirit of harmony and hope. Consider the lilies of the
God bless you dear friends,
Rev. Joyce Fergus-Moore