June 7, 2018

To begin, let express deepest thanks for my sabbatical. The time away gave me an opportunity to refresh, regroup, relax—basically everything that begins with "re." It was also an opportunity to showcase the strength and devotion of our congregation—meaningful worship happened (my sources tell me), people cared for one another, and the administrative life of the congregation continued. Special thanks to everyone who had a role in these activities.

Sunday is the annual picnic, and the final service before summer worship begins (more on that below). The picnic begins after worship, usually around 1 pm or so. Folks are invited to travel to Lang and Norma's place in Campbellville. There are games and fun, and small dogs behind a sturdy fence. They like to watch. Bring your lunch and a chair and join us. Maps available at the church.

Next Sunday (June 17) we begin our annual pattern of shared worship with Weston Presbyterian Church. The first six weeks will be held at WPC (11 Cross Street), and all summer services begin at 10 am.

Bring Your Talent! It's like Sell Your Talent, but different. We will be selling donated items at the Weston Farmers Market on Saturday, June 23 and we need your help. We're looking for baked goods, chutneys, and preserves, along with flowers, bedding plants, craft items, and high quality used goods. Donations would be gratefully received at the church on Friday, June 22 from 8 am to 2 pm. If you have questions, please contact Cathy Leask or Sylvia Keyes.

Special thanks to Taye for writing and sending the blast over the last couple of months. This is the final blast of the season, resuming July 26.

C'mon, Kevin!

Worship at Central

We call it traditional worship with a twist. The service unfolds with the usual scripture-sermon-prayer format, but the added dimension of congregational participation and lots of interaction. We honour the children with their own place in the service, and prepare them for Church School. We have both Junior and Senior Choirs, an occasional Jazz ensemble and regular solo performances.

We follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which is available here.

This Sunday's Readings:

Psalm 138: “As for the proud, you humble them from afar.“

Mark 3.20-35: "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Read last week's sermon


A note from Diana Stapleton, Chair of Weston Area Emergency Support: "Every day the volunteers at WEAS meet new people that come for help. We all do our best to make them feel welcome. Your support helps us to do this valuable work, and we truly appreciate your contribution. Thank you for walking with us and caring for our community."

The Steampipe Fund is accepting donations. Please consider a separate donation to help us deal with this on-going issue and subsequent water damage. Speak to Terry, Sue, or Kathy for more information. Work has begun on the repairs, and it will be a big project!

Do you have photos or mementos for Central's yesteryear? We have a dedicated team of historically-minded people who are gathering and copying material from the past, and will be sharing in the lead up to our 200th anniversary. All items will be returned. Speak to Barb Putnam or Mary Lou Ashbourne.

Expenses never take a holiday. Can you help? Joining PAR is the best solution (see Sue!) but being intentional about making up missed givings is really helpful too. Thanks!

Minute for Mission

Mission & Service supports microcredit programs like the one created by the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network in Kenya. Small loans allow women to run small businesses—but even more, they create opportunities for women to improve their families’ lives by providing the means for shelter, food, clothing, and an education for their children.

I'm Learning as I Go

In the late 90’s, when Central first started to welcome our community to share a weekly meal, I was introduced to the term “Harm Reduction.” It seemed to me a whole separate, rather undercover department of social services. It involve closed doors and anonymous packages—and the people who went behind the doors were a different kind of “poor” but definitely “marginalized”—a word that has become more frequently used.

The marginalized were drug addicts and sex workers and often dealing with alcohol issues too. In the hierarchy of the drop-in population they sat below the low income and those coping with poverty and mental illness. “Harm reduction” meant helping them to stay healthy by providing condoms, needle exchange and safe crack use kits and people with whom they felt safe for counselling. We offered anonymous testing for Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS and while not condemning their practices offered help to change their life styles. All good and necessary work; but not something I felt I should not mention in church when talking about the drop-in!

Today, we recognize that everything we do in the drop-in is about “harm reduction.” The social integration, the nutritious food, the activities, and the safety of the place all contribute to reducing stress and improving health. The workshops on topics such as sexual health, Hepatitis C and diabetes are offered to everyone and are intended to keep us all healthy. The showers and laundry facilities, the clothing, bedding and toiletries offered not only reduces harm from fleas and bedbugs, but a toothbrush and toothpaste prevents cavities.

The safe crack kits are still available but in discrete brown paper sandwich bags and we’ve added kits for safe piercings. Like many things from government, the City of Toronto now requires a far more detailed account recorded of the person who receives a package. We have trained “peer workers” who take the materials to bars and barber shops and can also encourage their peers use safely and reduce the potential harm.

The condoms now sit openly like a colourful dish of candy on the coffee table in the lounge since we recognize many individuals have sexual relationships and need protection. Posters warn people of dangerous drugs being circulated and the Bad Date Coalition prints a monthly newsletter where sex workers publicize descriptions of people, places and vehicles where they have encountered danger. We encourage visiting older teens to volunteer with breaking apart the condoms which come in strips, so they can talk with the trained workers about prevention of sexual diseases.

And I am finally talking about harm reduction openly in a church newsletter!

Barbara Bisgrove

Thank you Habitat volunteers!

Community Announcements

All events are free unless otherwise noted.

The annual Etobicoke Butterfly Festival family event hosted by Our Place Initiative (OPI) will take place at Panorama Park, 31 Panorama Court at the Panorama Community Garden on Saturday, June 9 from 11 am to 2 pm. The event will feature a butterfly garden planting party, arts and crafts, children's activities and free plant giveaways.

Etobicoke Horticultural Society at Fairfield Seniors' Centre presents Life Underground, Wednesday, June 13 from 7.30 to 9 pm, 80 Lothian Avenue. Dr. Larry Peterson reveals how the majority of plants have co-evolved with beneficial soil fungi forming complex symbiotic relationships. There will also be a flower competition/show and Master Gardeners available to answer questions.

Pride Month: Annual celebration of LGBT community and culture, featuring performances, exhibits, talks, parties and the parade weekend (Jun 22-24). Church Wellesley Village and various venues all across Toronto. Various prices, many events free. Visit pridetoronto.com/pride2018 for more information.

In the Library

The One Year Bible by Various Authors (and the Holy Spirit)

The best-selling One Year Bible, which helps you read the entire Bible in as little as 15 minutes a day, has been updated in a new look. The One Year Bible divides God's Word into daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, creating an achievable and unforgettable devotional experience.

2018-19 at Central

See what's coming up in the 2018-19 church year.

About this Blast

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Photo by Liz Rodgerson