Tuesday, December 22, 2015

20 December 2015 Christmas Story and Hymn Celebration

Sunday was our annual Christmas Story and Hymn Celebration.  It's now online and you can watch it here.  There is some wonderful ministry of music by Mike Karpowicz (piano) and Virginia Hodgins (flugelhorn) along with musical solos by Joyce Dawson and Leandro Palacios.  The sound turned out rather good — we're improving.

The program is here:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Community Tuesdays

"Continually Learn and Grow Together" is one of the five components of our Congregation's mission.  We're living this mission Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm at the Toronto Centre Place with one of four general activities.

1st Tuesday of each month: Church Lecture Series
We’ll listen to presentations by scholars on topics including Restoration history, theology, philosophy, world religions, history and literary criticism of the Bible, Restoration scripture, history of Christianity, and more.   

2nd Tuesday of each month: Disciple Formation
We’ll explore old and new spiritual and discipleship formation practices, including prayer, hymn singing, meditation upon the word, testimonies, sharing community exercises, and more. 

3rd Tuesday of each month: Church Book Club
As we wait for books, we've been having alternate activities, such as hymn practice.  Beginning soon, we’ll vote on a book to read of interest to the participating members of the club each month, then return the next month to discuss the book. Suggestions for first month: The Journey of a People (Vol. 1) or Who Wrote the Gospels? or Who Wrote the Bible? or David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition.  (First book to be decided in church on 12/27).  Begins Feb. 16, 2016.  

4th Tuesday of each month: Movies that Matter
We’ll watch a movie together that has at its core a philosophical question, an exploration of ethics, or a philosophical, theological, or religious issue. Afterwards, we’ll share our thoughts on the movie, how the issue was handled, and what we think of the issue.

Calendar of Events (Dec.–Jan.) at Centre Place:

• December 1—Tuesday:  CHURCH LECTURE SERIES 7:00 pm, John Hamer on "Church for the Unchurched: The Case for Non-Dogmatic Religion in the 21st Century."

• December 8—Tuesday:  DISCIPLE FORMATION 7:00 pm, "What Is Your Spirituality Type?"

• December 12—Saturday:  CHILDREN'S ACTIVITY DAY 1:00 pm, "Christmas Cookie Decoration and Baking"

• December 15—Tuesday:  DISCIPLE FORMATION 7:00 pm, "Christmas Carol Practice & Sing-along"

• December 22—Tuesday:  MOVIE NIGHT 7:00 pm, "Miracle on 34th Street"

• January 5—Tuesday:  CHURCH LECTURE SERIES 7:00 pm, John Hamer on "What Is Scripture?"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Social Hour Potato Soup

Here's the recipe that Sim & Melissa used to make potato soup for the congregation today during the social hour:


I had three bowls!  Delicious!  With social hours like these, it's gotten to the point where no one wants church to end anymore.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Prayer of Dedication for Our New Church Home

Apostle Stassi Cramm, newly called as Presiding Bishop of the Church and into the First Presidency, gave our prayer of dedication for the new Centre Place church at 320 Richmond Street East, #101

God of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,

In the gift of this moment, we unite our hearts, minds, and souls as a faith community in prayer as we dedicate the Toronto congregation’s new building.

We dedicate this facility with the hopes that the Toronto Community of Christ can continue in their unfolding story to live fully into our global identity and calling as Community of Christ in this area.

We give thanks for the faithful disciples who have gone before us whose commitment and dedication created and sustained this congregation to allow this moment to happen. Knowing your presence with this congregation historically, we look forward to the future with great expectation and hope. In that spirit of anticipation, we pray that this facility will support this congregation in continuing their journey as an invitational, Christ-centered community of justice and peace.

God, through the generosity of faithful disciples, this new state of the art facility has been created to use the best of what is available today to support innovative approaches for mission opportunities in Toronto and beyond. May the entrepreneurial spirit that dreamed this facility into being continue to lead and guide the leaders and disciples as they respond to the mission opportunities around them.

Gracious God, may this facility serve as a place of both a place of restoration and challenge as disciples gather and grow in how to live a meaningful life together. May the people and the messages that flow from this space, be sent to invite others to come and experience this Christ-centered community of justice and peace. As the Holy Spirit leads, may people have the courage to boldly invite others to commit their lives in living Christ’s mission as part of an inclusive faith community.

Loving God, we dedicate this space to be used in ways that allow people to learn, grow and develop healthy relationships with you and others. As disciples and seekers are shaped and formed by the activities that occur within this space or are transmitted from this space, we pray that they will make responsible choices and take actions both individually and collectively to abolish poverty and end suffering while pursuing peace and justice everywhere.

May those who enter this space either physically or virtually encounter a community who embodies the enduring principles of Community of Christ. May grace and generosity flow abundantly, may the sacredness of your creation be supported, may your continued revelation be heard and acted upon as people recognize the worth of all persons, the calling of each, and the need to make responsible choices.

May those who gather or connect virtually represent the diversity in the world and the unity we share through your Divine spark in all creation. And may this holy space be a place where people live out and express the blessings of community and pursue Christ’s peace both internally and externally especially in the midst of life’s difficult moments.

Creator God, as we dedicate this space as well as the gifts that generous disciples shared to make it possible, we also recommit our individual and communal lives to be the embodiment of Christ in the world. We commit ourselves anew to be your co-creators, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, in building your vision of Shalom in our families, neighborhoods, and cities one relationship at a time.

And God even as we dedicate this facility, we also pray that when the time comes that this facility is no longer a functional tool for mission that the group that is stewarding the building at that time, will have the wisdom to celebrate the blessings that came through the facility while having the courage to let it go in favor of new ways to pursue mission.

We step into tomorrow with an assurance that your Spirit that has led this congregation to this moment will continue to be the lamp unto their feet as they move onward in living Christ’s mission in whose name we pray, Amen.
Update: Here is the Video:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Video: Nov. 1, 2015 Communion Service

We're excited to be posting our first ever service on video.  We're not live streaming yet, but we're excited to test the new Centre Place building's capacity to begin to provide meaningful content to seekers beyond our walls and our city.

The theme of our service was "Commanded to Love" and our reading was Mark 12:28-34 (the greatest commandment).  Joe Hodgins conducted the service.  The Communion Message was presented by John Hamer.  Leandro Palacios gave the Prayer for Peace (whose lesson was on Daoism), and Mary Bailey offered the Disciple's Generous Response.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dedication of the Centre Place Church

We will be dedicating our new Centre Place church at a special service at 7:00 pm this Thursday, November 5.  Apostle Stassi Cramm, representing the First Presidency, will offer the prayer of dedication, setting aside the space as our congregation's fourth house of the Lord in the city.  Because seating is limited, if you plan to attend this service, please contact our pastor, John Hamer (johnchamer@gmail.com). The service will be recorded for broadcast on the internet.

Friday, October 2, 2015

First Service in the New Building (Soft Opening)

Toronto Congregation will celebrate our first service in the new Centre Place church at 320 Richmond Street East #101 this Sunday, October 4, 2015. Church School is at 10:00 am, Communion Service at 11:00 am, Social Time at noon. 

We will finally be crossing the Jordan after nearly two years wandering since leaving our beloved church on Bathurst Street. However, this is a soft opening as we are still waiting on a number of items including carpet for the sanctuary, tile for the washrooms, lights for the light wall, furniture for the social room, and more. The good news is that we will have working washrooms and that's enough to march onward to Zion.

Friends and church members around Canada: If you're eager to see the new building, please feel free to visit us any Sunday over the course of the next few months. The sanctuary only seats about 50 and we'd love to have you when we can share with more 1x1 time.

The facility is near transit: Take the subway to Queen and the Queen Streetcar to Sherbourne. By car: Richmond has an exit from the DVP or via the Gardner exit at Jarvis. Street parking in the neighborhood is mostly free Sunday mornings prior to 1 pm and there is a pay Green-P ramp directly across Richmond from the church.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Final Church in the Library, Sept. 20, 2015

For our final church in the library, Community of Christ Toronto Congregation will be celebrating Heritage Sunday with a Restoration Hymn Festival. The service will include readings from Professor Richard Clothier's history of Community of Christ hymnody and sing historic hymns from the past 185 years of Restoration song. Come join us for a fun service, which will mark our final meeting in the library prior to moving into our new building at 320 Richmond Street East, beginning October 4, 2015.  

Remember that on Sunday, September 27, we will be having services with Scarborough Congregation: 11 am worship at 10 Eppleworth Road, Scarborough, ON

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An Invitation to Participate

One of the empowering and community building traditions of our denomination Community of Christ and our congregation is widely shared participation in our services.  Ministry takes many forms, which include bringing items to the service like flowers, candles, hymnals, preparing communion emblems, preparing the worship center, preparing activities for children.  Ministry of presence itself is vital to the congregation as we are all enriched by each other’s presence.  Another way to participate in ministry is to volunteer for one of the components of the weekly worship service.  These include:

Conducting: The conductor sees to the overall organization of the service, provides the welcome (approx. 5 minutes), invitation to worship, the invocation, and the benediction or sending forth. The conductor also provides for any component when the scheduled participant is unavailable, and reminds individual participants when their component has gone over the allotted time.

Prayer for Peace: The officiant lights the candle while the music is played, reads the lesson, and offers the prayer (approx. 5 min. total).

Children’s Time: The officiant gathers the children for a story, video, song, or other message (approx. 5 min. total).

Disciple’s Generous Response: The officiant gives a message about giving. The deacon takes up the offerings and the officiant offers a prayer (approx. 5 min. total).

Sermon: The speaker gives the weekly message through scripture, exegesis, personal stories, reflections, and other shared wisdom (approx. 25 min. total or 18 min. on Communion Sunday).

Testimony: The speaker talks about why they are committed to Toronto Congregation and/or the church (approx. 5 minutes total).

Ministry of Music: The soloist or performers offer ministry through musical performance.

We would love for you to participate.  All are welcome to volunteer for any of these roles.  Please contact John Hamer, if you would like to talk about participating in different sections in the service.

Remembering the Mother of the Restoration on Mother's Day

Emma Hale Smith Bidamon, 1804–1879

Community of Christ is sometimes called “Emma’s Church.” After the failures of competing Latter Day Saint sects in the decade and a half following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith Jr., members scattered throughout the North American Midwest looked to Emma’s sons to provide leadership for a new organization of the church. 

Emma was among the earliest supporters of Joseph Smith Jr. Her father provided the young couple with a farm and home of their own, where Joseph began the work of bringing for the Book of Mormon. Emma acted as one of the first scribes of the work. She became the first and only woman to whom a section the Doctrine and Covenants is addressed (Community of Christ D&C 24). The revelation dictated in 1830 names Emma an “Elect Lady” and calls her to be ordained “to expound Scriptures, and to exhort the church” as well as to select hymns for a hymnal. Ultimately, Emma produced four hymnals, two for the early church and two for the Reorganized Church. 

Emma was an ardent opponent of polygamy and other secret practices within the church. Her influence over her sons and her philosophy of promoting peace with their neighbors in Nauvoo significantly influenced the culture of Community of Christ.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Hymn Festival, April 5, 2015

Join us Sunday, April 5, at the Wychwood Library for our annual Easter Hymn Festival. We're a musical congregation and our recent tradition has been to re-tell the Easter story through scripture readings, hymns, and ministry of music. The Communion Service is at 11 am, followed by social time at noon. Sunday School is at 10 am. Everyone's welcome to come to one of our favorite services of the year!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reminder: Worship Schedule Feb.15–March 8

Worship Schedule Feb.15–March 8:

Reminder: We will not have church in the library Feb. 22 and March 1, but will meet with Scarborough congregation at the church on 10 Eppleworth Road near Kennedy Station in Scarborough.

Feb. 15: church in the library as normal
Feb. 22: meeting with Scarborough Congregation; no church in library
Mar. 1: meeting with Scarborough Congregation; no church in library
Mar. 8: church in the library as normal

Prayer for Peace — Confucianism

A statue of Confucius in front of a temple in Qufu, China.

In our weekly prayer for peace this year, we are learning about the diverse religious traditions that have shaped our world and the communities of our neighbors.  Today we seek to learn about the tradition of Confucianism.  This system of ethics developed from the teachings of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher active in the sixth and fifth centuries before the common era.  Confucianism focuses on practical issues in this life (as opposed to the other-worldly or transcendent) with a special emphasis on the importance of family, filial piety, loyalty, integrity, continence, and righteousness.  For example, in teaching the virtue of “Ren” or humanness, Confucius taught, “one should see nothing improper, hear nothing improper, say nothing improper, do nothing improper.” Another description of this virtue is “not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself” — a sentiment which echoes the “Golden Rule” taught by Jesus and many other religious and philosophical thinkers.

Just as the philosophical teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have had enormous effects on the understanding of ethics in the West, including religious beliefs within Christianity, Confucianism has profoundly affected philosophical and religious thought throughout China and the Far East.

In our explorations this year, we are able to celebrate the diversity of thought that has enriched our world and also the threads that feel common to us all.

Prayer for Peace — Gloria Mitchell, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

O Holy One, who has been with us from the beginning and taught us to be your people as you are our God, we beseech you for peace.  We remember the time you led your children through the wilderness to forge them into a people.  We remember you being with Abraham and staying his hand against Isaac.  We remember you guided Lehi and family to a new home, and provided Joseph with the vision needed in the early days of the Restoration.  We remember Martha who served you, Mary who loved you, and Emma who was an elect lady.  This day, as all days, we remember we are part of the past, we are in the present, and look to the future in finding your presence.

We thank you, Almighty, for allowing us to share an understanding of you.  We thank you for opportunities for service, and pray history will record we did praise your name and glorified you.  Thank you God for intelligence and knowledge, but most of all thank you for your grace and gift of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Native American and First Nations Religions

William Commanda (1913–2011), an Algonquin elder from Quebec,
performing a smudging ceremony.

In our weekly prayer for peace this year, Toronto Congregation is learning and thinking about the diversity of religious experience in our city and throughout the world.  Today we consider an entire category of religious experience: the beliefs, traditions, and practices of the indigenous peoples of North America, including the Native Americans of the United States and the First Nations of Canada.  At the time of contact between the world’s eastern and western hemispheres, the native population of North America numbered in the millions, and was divided into diverse nations with their own languages, traditions, and identities. Exposure to diseases from the Eastern Hemisphere, along with displacement by colonists and outright warfare caused devastating collapses in the native population.

Recovery has been a long and difficult path as native peoples have struggled to preserve their own traditions in the face of overwhelming pressure to assimilate into Eurocentric society.  This is also true for the recovery of traditional beliefs and sacred ceremonies.  Although these practices are as diverse as native languages are diverse, well-known ceremonies include the sweat-lodge ceremony, the pipe ceremony, and “smudging” — which involves the burning of sweetgrass, sage, or cedar to purify the body and spirit of everyone within a sacred space.  Natives who practice traditional religions often do so holistically — thinking that their traditions are meant to encompass more than just the religious sphere, but should include all of life.

As we learn about different conceptions of spirituality, let us be open to developing our own understanding and capacities as disciples.

Prayer for Peace — Donna M. Pratt, Des Moines, Iowa

Heavenly Parent, out of the silence we come to you. To you who gives voice to the thunder and to the laughter of children. To you who allows us to see the beauty of your earth which was created for us to use wisely, who allows us to smell the new-mown hay as well as the bread freshly baked for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or to share with a neighbor, who allows us to touch hands in friendship and to soothe the brow of those who are at times troubled and weary.

We ask that you create in us a new being, a being that is hungering for peace. One that would go the second mile, and the third, and the fourth. Help us to have hearts that respond positively when we think that we are wronged. Help us to see "the other side" of every situation in which we are involved. For we know, dear God, that it is through our faith in you that we are blessed and this blessing can, when used correctly, bring about that peace for which we have yearned so long.

As we observe the lighted peace candle, let us center our thoughts on peace. Peace...what a beautiful sound. Let it start with me.   Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Unitarian Universalism

Canadian Unitarian Universalists marching to promote global climate change action

Unitarian Universalism

Today during our prayer for peace, we will consider a religion with a strong tradition of promoting peace: Unitarian Universalism. This religion, with about 800,000 adherents worldwide has resulted from the 1961 merger of Unitarianism and Universalism.  Although based on ancient ideas, both traditions emerged in the Anglo-American world in the 18th century. Unitarians rejected the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ, in favor of emphasizing the Oneness or Unity of God. Universalists meanwhile focused on the belief in universal salvation — rejecting the idea of hell and believing that everyone would eventually be redeemed.  Both these views were considered radical in their time and Unitarians and Universalists coupled their radical theologies with important social reform activism:  promoting causes in the 19th century including the abolition of slavery, the women’s movement, and the temperance movement.

More recently Unitarian Universalists have been champions of the LGBT rights movement.  Unitarian Universalists were the first major religion to bless same-sex unions, before any country had legalized same-sex marriages. Unitarian Universalism is non-credal and non-dogmatic, emphasizing the worth of all persons, and is inclusive and supportive of a wide diversity of individual beliefs and practices.  Among their Seven Principles and Purposes, is an affirmation of “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

As we ponder the heritage and activism of the Unitarian Universalist traditions, we in Community of Christ seek to hear the call to activism on behalf of our own Enduring Principle of the Pursuit of Peace.

Prayer for Peace — Ray Hogue, Joplin, Missouri

O Lord, let us sense peace in the beauty of our worship. Let us speak peace in our interpersonal relationships. Let us hear peace in the midst of confusion. Let us feel peace when we are touched by the Holy Spirit. Let us hope for peace in the seas of hopelessness. Let us sue for peace in the humane treatment of our little ones. Let us respect peace in the wise lives of our elders. Let us affirm peace as we accept the struggles of our youth. Let us honor peace by being ethical in all walks of life. Lord, let us follow peace to whatever person, situation or cross it leads us. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we pray.  Amen.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan monks create a sand mandala.

Tibetan Buddhism

This year as we pray for peace each week, we are learning about and pondering the many religious traditions that span the globe.  Today our thoughts turn to Tibetan Buddhism.  Buddhism is a non-theistic religion whose teachings and practices are traced back to Siddhartha Gautama — commonly known as the Buddha (or “the awakened one”)  who developed a system of beliefs aimed at allowing individuals to end their suffering by eliminating ignorance and cravings.  These teachings are encapsulated in the “Four Noble Truths” of the Buddha, which are: (1) All things and states are unsatisfying, (2) nevertheless we crave and cling to these things and states and are continuously reborn, (3) if we cease craving and clinging, we won’t be reborn, (4) we can achieve an end to the unsatisfactory conditions by following the Buddhist path of behaving decently, not acting on impulses, practicing mindfulness and meditation.

According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.  Buddhism came to Tibet a millennium later and ultimately became established as the state religion in 8th century CE.  Since that time, it has developed some distinct characteristics from other branches of the religion.  The most famous of these is the system of incarnate lamas  successors to specific lineages of teachings, trained from a young age by the students of their predecessors.  The 14th Dalai Lama is the most famous of these, known for his lifelong advocacy of the Tibetan people, for which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

As we learn about the many, diverse belief systems and traditions of the world, we desire to be agents of change, promoting peace through mutual understanding.

Prayer for Peace — Gloria Mitchell, Prince Albert, SK, Canada

God, we have set this time apart to come before you with our songs and prayers of peace.

We have called you by many names: Exalted, Most High, Creator, and Holy, but whatever the name we give you pales in comparison to the works you have wrought.  You have created vast numbers of people and things we really don't know.  This awareness of our limits, our lack of understanding all you are, is reflected through our faith in your goodness and vast love.

God, we recognize our similarities when we know all people strive for a good life in whatever way they can. Creator, please bless our similarities and more specifically our differences.  Help us build bridges of love and understanding.  Help us come to fully appreciated and incorporate your greatest commandment of all: to love one another.

Our prayer this day is for peace throughout the world and peace for all people. We pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Ethiopian Orthodox

Illuminations from a Medieval Ethiopian Orthodox Bible.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

This year as we pray for peace each week, we are learning about and pondering the many religious traditions that span the globe.  Today our thoughts turn to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the few pre-Colonial Christian churches in sub-Saharan Africa.  The church has traditionally been traced to the conversion by the Apostle Philip of a eunuch official in the service of Queen Candace of Ethiopia, as recorded in the Book of Acts 8:26-27.

Christianity was widely established in the Axumite Kingdom of Ethiopia as early as the 4th century AD through the efforts of St. Frumentius.  In the many early controversies over the nature of Christ, the Ethiopian Orthodox church sided with the Coptic Church in Egypt, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Indian Orthodox Church.  While Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christianity asserts that Christ has two natures (He is at once wholly human and wholly Divine), the Ethiopian Orthodox and related churches assert that Christ has but “Once Singular Nature”.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has its own canon that includes the Book of Jubilees, the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, and the three Ethiopic Books of the Maccabees.  This tradition is famous for a dozen monolithic churches, carved entirely out of solid rock.  The church also claims to be the keepers of the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to be located within the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in the town of Axum.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has about 45 million members, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, while smaller numbers live throughout the world, including here in Canada.

As we ponder the many, diverse, rich and historic traditions that comprise the body of Christ, we desire that knowledge and awareness of diverse distinctions may spread along with the cause of peace.

Prayer for Peace — Cheryl Peters, Sandusky, Michigan

May the peace of God be in you, to lead you every day. May the peace of God go out from you, to light another’s way. May the peace of God move all around to all nations of the earth.

May God in heaven be overjoyed as peace has been given birth. And may God’s peace stretch wider like bud to blooming flower. May the world be blessed with unity as we pray for peace this hour. And may Christ who blazed the pathway and showed examples clear, give each of us a reason to hold to peace, so dear. May we make the world a better place, a place of truth and peace. May the witness of our lives assure that love will never cease. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 5, 2015

World Religions Prayer for Peace Weekly Calendar

Here our 2015 World Religions Prayer for Peace Weekly Calendar.  Each week we'll post materials for giving information about the individual religion or denomination here at TorontoCongregation.com.  Learn much, much more about world religions at the Encounter World Religions Centre.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Quakers

A circle of Friends worship together in silent contemplation.

Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)

Our mission initiatives include developing disciples to serve and promoting peace on earth.  We work toward both goals as we learn about the traditions, ideas, practices, and history of diverse people throughout the world — many of whom are also neighbors in our own communities.  Every week in our congregation, we ponder one of the world’s many diverse religious expressions and offer a prayer for peace for peoples of the world.
This week we contemplate the Quakers.  The people commonly known under the nickname Quakers refer to themselves as “Friends” and their many different denominations and expressions are collectively known as the “Religious Society of Friends.” The movement emerged in the English Reformation in the mid-17th century, as one of many organizations who desired to take reform much further than the established Church of England was prepared to go.

Quakers stressed the importance of a direct relationship with God acquired through reading and studying the Bible and through direct spiritual experience.  They reject creeds and recognize a universal priesthood of all believers, which meant that early on women were able to serve as Quaker ministers.  Quakers are a peace church with a long, proud commitment to causes of social justice, including the eradication of slavery.  In this way, the Quakers have served as a model for our own goal in Community of Christ of becoming a peace church.

Today there are about 359,000 adult members of Quaker congregations throughout the world. Although the Society of Friends have always been relatively few in number, they have had great impact in the promotion of justice and peace.

Prayer for Peace — Wallace B. Smith

Eternal God, present in all of life that is significant and holy, hear us now as we lift our voices in thanksgiving and praise, in confession, and in supplication.

We give thanks for your word of encouragement that enables us to face each new day.  We also thank you for your word of faithfulness that gives us hope for the future.  And we give thanks for your word of guidance that directs us as we seek to better understand your ways.

Gracious God, deliver us from the shallowness of our commitments, from the thousand ways our strivings separate us from each other.  And most of all, deliver us from our fears that alienate us from you.

O God of faith, hear our prayer as we light our flame of peace and love at this hour and in this sacred place.  May the flame here kindled grow within each heart, that all may sense more fully your spirit in the warmth of our concern for one another.  Refresh us when we grow weary of opposing injustice and oppression, terrorism and war, and send us forth from this time of prayer for peace strengthened to bind up the wounds that afflict our world. Grant us peace, O God — not the peace of slumber, but of quiet confidence in the triumph of your word.  For the sake of all your creation, we pray.   Amen.

Prayer for Peace — Sikhism

Note: To promote awareness of the Encounter World Religions Centre and to further its goal of sharing information about the beliefs and practices of the world's diverse faiths, Toronto Congregation in 2015 is departing from the World Church's daily calendar focusing on the various nations of the world.  Instead, we will be providing materials for a Weekly Prayer for Peace focused on individual world religions and denominations in order to promote peace through awareness of these diverse faith communities.  We are beginning our calendar January 4, 2015, by learning about Sikhism.  (The prayer portion will continue to make use of prayers composed across Community of Christ and submitted on the World Church website.)

Sikh boys and girls at at youth camp.


Good morning.  The Pursuit of Peace on Earth is among our core missions as a church.   One way we pursue peace is through learning about the history, practices, beliefs, and customs of diverse people throughout the world — many of whom are also neighbors in our own communities.  Every week in our congregation, we offer a prayer for peace for peoples of the world.  This year, we are learning about the world’s different religious traditions, which we will consider during our prayer for peace each week.

This week we explore Sikhism.  Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in Punjab in the Indian subcontinent during the 15th century by a guru (or teacher) named Nanak.  Guru Nanak established the system of the “Langar,” or communal kitchen, where everyone is welcome to eat free meals, sitting together on the floor without regard to caste or class in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality between all people.  This generous practice is one of many ways Sikhs challenge India’s traditional caste system.  There are around 30 million adherents to the religion, known as Sikhs.  Three quarters live in Punjab, where they form a majority of the population and the rest are spread around the world, with large populations in Canada.

Sikhs are distinguished by a number of distinctive practices including a prohibition on cutting or shaving their hair, wearing turbans, and carrying a ceremonial dagger. In North America in the wake of the 9/11 attacks this “foreign-seeming” appearance resulted in attacks Sikhs and Sikh temples by ignorant people who confused Sikhs with Muslims.  Sikhs likewise face persecution and discrimination in India, especially with the rise of Hindu nationalism.  In 1984, after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, more than 8,000 Sikhs were massacred in India.

As we learn about Sikhism and all the other religions of the world, we hope to fight ignorance with knowledge and to further the cause of peace.

Prayer for Peace — by Evelyn Masek

Creating God,

You who created us of one color within and many colors without, we come in praise and appreciation of our sameness and also our differences.  We know your love for each of us is the same as your love for all of us. We long for peace and harmony in our lives but there are so many things that separate us:  race, religion, wealth, poverty, sickness.  We need your help that we might grow in the kind of love that causes us to practice the art of not only listening but hearing one another; to listen with our hearts and not just our ears, to give and receive respect; to be thoughtful and caring.

Teach us to hurt when others hurt and rejoice when they rejoice.  It is only in sharing that we will grow in understanding.  Peace at home and throughout the world revolves around understanding and mutual respect.

We desire to plant the seeds of peace by our words and deeds so that one day we may realize a bountiful harvest of goodness and earthly love. We thank you for blessing us with your unconditional love that promises us a place of peace that passes all human understanding.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.