A Community Exploring Faith, Seeking Justice, and Living with Respect in Creation

Office & delivery address: 165 Avenue Road, Unit 402, Toronto ON, M5R 3S4

Weekly Sunday Services on Zoom and in person at 10:30am at 729 St. Clair Ave. W

Social Justice

Sharing an inclusive partnership with neighbours near and far, Bloor Street listens to the voices of concern, advocates for those having struggles and welcomes the opportunity to support faithful and courageous action to bring ease to difficult circumstances.

The Latest

Advent Virtual Education Tour

Greetings from George Bartlett and Marianna Harris:

We feel we need to postpone our visit to Palestine and Israel from March 2023 until just after Thanksgiving in October 2023 (we have to negotiate the particular dates around Israeli holidays).

Here’s an alternate interim plan that you are all invited to participate in – no jet lag, almost no financial investment, and an opportunity to see Bethlehem and those who live and work there in a new way!

Advent is coming and we invite you to join us on a virtual/educational visit to Bethlehem as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yes – it will be a visit by Zoom – 4 sessions – with participants doing some reading or video watching ahead of time and then being part of a discussion time

Please e-mail us to express your interest in participating: [email protected]; [email protected]

We’d like to set a time that works by Doodle poll for those interested once we hear from people.

One book we will read is “Bethlehem Besieged” by Mitri Raheb. We will have 10 copies soon. Please let us know if you want one. It is also available from Amazon on kindle.

Marianna and George

Stamps for Oxfam

We are collecting stamps for Oxfam! Your stamps will go with many others to support the project we are currently helping to sponsor, dealing with the impact of COVID in low income countries. Here is a brief description of what Oxfam is doing.

Holy Land Service follow-up

The full recording of Sunday’s Holy Land service is available on Trinity St. Paul’s YouTube channel. The Q and A session afterwards was not recorded.

Follow-up to the Service

If you have some time check out one of these suggestions to learn more about the situation in Palestine / Israel.

1. Join the United Church campaign in working for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. The United Church of Canada encourages United Church members and others to become involved in the search for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis by contributing to the end of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Click this link to learn about some of the issues involved in the situation.

2. Visit our Shining Waters site for a list of resources on Palestine / Israel.

3. Amnesty International released its report on the current state of Palestine / Israel relations. In the report, Amnesty International named Israel as an apartheid state in regard to its treatment of people and property in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel itself. This report follows a similar report released by Human Rights Watch. To see the full report click here. Alternatively, if you would like to see a summary of the report, you can click here.

4. Apeirogon by Colum McCann – a beautifully observed masterpiece based on the true-life friendship of two men whose daughters were killed in the Middle East.

5. As mentioned by the Holy Land Service guest speaker check out one or more of the articles by Marc H. Ellis (born 1952). Professor Ellis is an American author, liberation theologian, and a retired University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is currently visiting professor of several international universities, including the University of Innsbruck, Austria and the United Nations University for Peace, Costa Rica.

The Heart Garden

The Heart Garden on the corner of Bloor and Robert Street began as “a response to the TRC’s call for permanent reminders of the residential school history. Its goal is to create a welcoming public space for reflection on a very well trafficked corner of Toronto as well as an outdoor space for ceremony. The garden expresses our sorrow for the loss and abuse of so many Indigenous children in residential schools and our hope to build public awareness towards reconciliation with Indigenous people. In the garden, against the backdrop of a church built during the same era that the residential school policy began, we honour Indigenous spirituality.” (TSP)

The children of our church school have participated in learning more about Indigenous culture through a number of visits to the Heart Garden.  As you watch the video enjoy the voices of the children as they talk about the meaning behind the Heart Garden. Listen to an Indigenous Elder who talks about the impact of the residential school system. Click here to see the video, or watch below.

Afterwards take a few minutes to say the prayer that the children said when they sent hearts to the closing ceremony of the TRC in 2015.

“Help us to open our hearts to others, pay attention to our thoughts, words and actions, notice when we have hurt others and change our behaviour in the future. With this Heart Garden we honour children who were lost or survived the Indian residential System.”

Education

The Social Justice Committee, with input from the congregation and others, arranges educational events and the circulation of educational material on topics that the Committee believes are important to society and of interest to the congregation.

Reflections on a Trip to Palestine/Israel

Over the next months a number of people are going to reflect on their trips to PalestineIsrael. The most recent travellers in 2019 were Nora McKay, Nena Cervantes and Ron & Maure Kentner. In 2018 Randi Helmers and Martha ter Kuile travelled to the holy land. Over a number of years others from our congregation have joined George Bartlett and Marianna Harris on these trips.

Each month, following the themes of Kumi Now, there will be one or more personal reflections and specific information on the current topic. We listen to scripture in our services about the holy land in the time of Jesus. These reflections will look at the holy land as it exists at this time. It is beautiful in its geology, magnificent in its history but there are issues that need resolution.

The Kumi Now project is an attempt by many people and organizations to “stand firm in the face of oppression”, to seek justice and inclusion based on international law and to commit to non-violent resistance. Each week Kumi Now introduces a “different organization working to raise awareness about specific issues in Israel-Palestine”. The personal reflections will give you an account of what visitors saw and heard during their travels.

You can read the latest information and reflection here.

If you are interested in joining the Middle East Working Group please click here to find out more information.

Fundraising

The Social Justice Committee and sub-Committees are active in many areas including the following:

  • Togogos support grandmothers in Africa, who are raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, by raising money and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
  • The Refugee Outreach Program raises money each year to send refugee mothers and children to summer camp. They also collect toys for an annual Refugee Christmas Party.
  • The Social Justice Committee collects funds and gifts each Advent Season for designated organizations and also raises funds in response to Relief Appeals through the United Church of Canada.

Advocacy

The Social Justice Committee, as part of its educational role, advises the congregation when there is a call to action on particular issues. This can include information about petitions, letter writing campaigns, demonstrations and lobbying of community or political leaders. If the Social Justice Committee or others within the congregation believe that Bloor Street United Church as a whole should advocate on a particular issue a proposal can be made to the Church Council for their consideration.