Events under 'Sunday Services'
Sunday, October 20, 2019

Event Name

Date

Making It Right

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Over the past week or so, our observant Jewish friends have been doing the work of reconciling—of reaching out to those they’ve hurt in some way over the past year to seek forgiveness and, if within one’s power, to make amends. This is the essential work of the High Holy Days. The ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur offer an invitation and an imperative—to the extent possible—to repair what has been broken, to make things right, to begin anew.

With the turn of the calendar to October, we take up the theme of “Healing” for the month. In my sermon on Sunday, I’ll explore the path to healing by looking at the complications of forgiveness—from the perspective of one granting it, as well as from one wanting and needing it. After all, sometimes it’s easier to forgive than to be forgiven.

Following the service, there will be a Congregational Meeting at 12:30pm. At this meeting, the Real Estate Task Force will provide updates about our ongoing efforts to sell our property and seek a new home in the city. As usual, lunch and child care will be available.

Enjoy the growing crispness of autumn, newly-arrived!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, October 01, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Healing Grace of Gratitude

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Thanksgiving arrives every year, whether we’re feeling thankful or not. Its predictable timing may align nicely with the welling up within us of genuine feelings of gratitude. And it may, for many, if we’re honest, arrive when we’re feeling there’s little to give thanks for. On Sunday, I’ll invite us to consider how cultivating gratitude, even when—and especially when—we’re not feeling particularly full of gratitude, can bring about healing in our lives. In this service, we will also share in our annual Harvest Communion of bread and cider, as we honour the gifts of the earth that sustain us. A reminder that our Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner will follow the service. All are invited!

Below, you’ll see mention of the upcoming Canadian UU Historical Society’s Lecture, which will take place, this year, in our sanctuary (on October 22nd, at 4:00pm). The speaker, Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini, is one of our finest preachers and will fill our pulpit that morning. In his lecture, he will be speaking about Rev. Mark DeWolfe, who had many ties to First Unitarian in the early years of his ministry. DeWolfe was the first openly gay minister ordained in Canada, and he served as the minister of the Mississauga congregation before his death as a young man from AIDS. Though it has been almost thirty years since his death, Mark’s impact on Canadian Unitarianism endures. I hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a very interesting and poignant reflection on his life and his legacy.

Wishing you all a truly Happy Thanksgiving!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, October 08, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Healing and Wholeness

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

There are times when our spirits cry out for healing: when our bodies yearn for comfort and our hearts long for connection. When we feel broken, how can we be restored to a healing wholeness? Do we have to work hard to find it, or is it here for us all along? This Sunday, we’ll turn to some of the most beloved poetic voices of our time, to guide us toward the wholeness that can heal.

As well, we’ll take time this Sunday to honour and celebrate the ongoing work of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. With this year’s theme of “Arm in Arm: Interfaith Action to Disarm Our Planet,” the UU-UNO continues its crucial leadership in a world so in need of healing and peace.

Join us, for a Sunday morning of healing, hope and inspiration.

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, October 15, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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How to Heal

Games Night

It is an honour to welcome to our pulpit this week the Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini, one of my heroes—and one of the most gifted preachers in the Unitarian Universalist tradition. His sermon is entitled, “How to Heal.”

Before retiring recently, Mark served congregations in San Francisco and Hayward, California, and in Columbus, Ohio. He chaired the Hymnbook Resources Commission which edited Singing the Living Tradition, our grey hymnal. He taught New Testament and Worship at Starr King School for the Ministry, served for eight years on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the credentialing body for ministers that serve in both Canada and the USA. He is an artist, loves to cook the food of his heritage (Emilian Italian), and spends a great deal of time with his friends and his beloved son, Tony.

At 4:00pm this Sunday, Mark will deliver the Canadian UU Historical Society’s annual lecture in our sanctuary. He will speak about Rev. Mark Mosher DeWolfe, who had significant ties to First Unitarian and was the first openly gay person ordained in Canada. Mark DeWolfe served as the minister of the Mississauga congregation before his death in 1988.

Finally, a reminder that next week we will hold our annual Samhain / All Souls / Day of the Dead service. You are invited to bring photographs and mementos of loved ones who have died to place on our Altar of Remembrance during the prelude. In this service, we will lift up in sacred memory the names of those who have died.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, October 22, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

All Shall Be Well

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

There are different words to describe it—from confidence to faith—but it boils down to this: In what do you place your deepest trust? On what can you can rely when life begins to unravel? As we wrap up our month’s theme of healing, I’ll take up these questions and invite us to consider the differences between seeking healing and finding a cure.

This Sunday, we will also honour in our annual service celebrating the Day of the Dead/Samhain/All Souls the lives of those we have loved who have died. You are invited to bring photos or mementos of those loved ones who have died to place on the Altar of Remembrance before the service begins, or during the opening hymn. Leading into our time of meditation, we will call the names of loved ones lost, holding them in sacred memory, affirming that they are with us still. At noon, there will be a gathering in the Secret Garden to ritually burn the memorial cards that have been in place on our Memorial for the past year. We will scatter the ashes of these cards in our garden.

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, October 29, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Who Am I?

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

The question "Who am I?" can be answered in more than one way. On the one hand, our identities are made up of our choices, activities, preferences and so on. But in addition to that (and more importantly) there may be something essential--something inherently worthy--within all of us that transcends our individual qualities and unites us with all Life.

How do we tap into that essential aspect of our personal selves, so that we can work together more effectively to create a more just and loving world? What wisdom can help us answer the question of “Who Am I?” in a way that strengthens us no matter what our life circumstances? Join me on Sunday morning to explore the simple and essential question of “Who Am I?” through story and song.

Then, at 7:00 p.m., join us for “Peace and Quiet”—a new evening contemplative service held in the Sunderland Hall sanctuary. This simple service of candles, silence and few words is designed to “help us find the quiet centre in the crowded life we lead.” Finding this quiet centre may be key to answering the “Who Am I?” question. I hope you’ll join us.

With love,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, November 05, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace & Quiet

Today we will hold our first gathering of Peace & Quiet, a new contemplative worship service at First Unitarian. These services will take place on the first Sunday of the month.

The chalice will be lit, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be.

The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, November 05, 2017 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Who Are We?

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Last weekend I had the honour of delivering the “charge to the congregation” at the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, where my dear friend Angela Herrera was installed as the new Senior Minister. The charge is an opportunity for a visiting minister to offer a mix of friendly advice and gentle challenge as the congregation begins a new ministry. There’s a reason a minister from outside typically plays this role—sometimes there are things incumbent ministers simply can’t say in their home pulpit.

This charge was the first I’ve delivered in years, and it prompted me to think about the advice and challenge our own congregation may benefit from hearing. So, while there’s no particularly special occasion scheduled for this Sunday, this seems a timely moment in our evolution--in keeping with this month's theme of Identity--to look at who we are and explore who we may still become.

In faith and love, Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Where Are We Going?

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

I usually settle on my sermon titles many months in advance as a way of focussing my thoughts for a given topic. Knowing the title helps me to know where the sermon is headed. It’s a helpful part of the writing process. It makes it easier to recognize the perfect poem when it comes along. It creates a container to hold the disparate elements that may (or may not!) be later combined into the sermon.

When I chose this week’s title a few months ago, I mistakenly thought that we would surely know by now where our congregation will eventually be moving. Silly me. But that was never the intended focus of this sermon anyway.

So, this Sunday, I plan to talk, instead, about where we are headed as a congregation beyond questions of geography. Where are we going as a movement? And what does this journey ask of us? What do the times into which we are living ask of our faith, of our congregation, of ourselves?

Such questions aren’t easy to answer. But further conversation about these questions are essential for charting our course into the future—and for finding the right new home for our congregation.

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

What's in a Name?

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

On Sunday, as we wrap up this month’s theme of Identity, I’ll be exploring in my sermon how we, as Unitarian Universalists—and particularly we, as the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto—describe ourselves to the wider world. It’s not easy. For starters, our name is a mouthful! And our theology is notoriously challenging to get across in a simple way. But explaining who we are is quite simple when we speak not to what we believe, but describe how we put those beliefs into practice. I look forward to reflecting with you on how our values help us to seek, connect, and serve.

By the way, this will be a great Sunday to invite someone you know to come along with you. For many years, our congregation had a tradition of “Bring a Friend” Sundays. We are happy to revive this practice. Going forward, Lynn and I will endeavour to indicate in First Light when we think an upcoming service will be particularly meaningful (and comfortable) for newcomers. Likewise, we’ll indicate in the listing of upcoming sermon titles in New Horizons those services to which it would be most appropriate to invite guests. So, let us share the gifts of our congregation with others!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, November 26, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Showing Up in the Hard, Hard Times

Sermon by Chris Wulff.

Greetings from Boston! This past summer, I was appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association to serve on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the team of ministers and lay people that oversees the process for credentialing new ministers and the ongoing requirements for ministers in professional “fellowship.” I am excited by this appointment, as the formation and support of ministers is a matter near and dear to my heart—and, I believe, a significant way for me to serve our wider movement with long-term impact for the future. While the responsibilities of this role are substantial—especially on top of my life at First and UofT!—I am receiving tremendous gifts from this work that will strengthen my ministry with you. Being in regular conversation with new ministers is allowing me to take in ideas I’ve never considered about congregational life and our faith in action. In some ways, it’s like going back to seminary, as I dip my toes into exciting new currents in our ministry. It is refreshing and challenging, all at the same time.

Speaking of ministers-in-the-making, I am delighted that our Seminarian, Christopher Wulff, will be back in Toronto this Sunday to preach at First Unitarian. (I regret that I’ll miss hearing him, given that I’m in Boston this weekend for MFC interviews.) Chris and his family (now four generations of them!) are active members of our congregation. For the past two years, Chris and Ariel have been in British Columbia, where Chris has been undertaking his internship with First Unitarian in Victoria. Please welcome Chris back to Toronto this week. His journey into professional ministry is almost complete; our congregation can take pride in his accomplishments and know that our support of ministerial students and interns is giving shape in wonderful ways to the future of our faith.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 03, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace & Quiet

Sunday evening in Sunderland Hall join us for a contemplative worship service.

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Come join us - claim a time for peace and quiet.

Sunday, December 03, 2017 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

"To Be Here"

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

What does it mean to be truly present in a place, in a community or in a relationship?

To be here—in the many ways “here” can be defined—calls us to be present to the others who are with us: to share space, to listen deeply and to open ourselves up to new understandings. It also calls us to take action toward the healing of injustice and the upholding of human rights: to be present to our ever-present ability to make a difference in this world.

This Sunday, we continue to explore December’s theme of “Presence” while observing Amnesty Sunday when we celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, and support the work of Amnesty International.

In addition, we welcome First Nations artists Joseph Sagaj and Keitha Keeshig-Tobias, whose art will be exhibited in Sunderland Hall throughout the month of December. We're honoured to have Joseph speak with us during the service.

As well, we'll hear the stunning anthem “There's a Sweet Spirit” and an inspiring earth-centered story about the willingness to be present in service to others.

In all these many ways, and more, we'll explore the many dimensions of what it means "to be here."

I hope you can be here, with us, on Sunday morning.

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 10, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace & Quiet

Sunday evening in Sunderland Hall join us for a contemplative worship service.

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Come join us - claim a time for peace and quiet.

Sunday, December 10, 2017 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Detached from recurrence

Presence in the Mystery

Sermon by Rev. Wayne Walder.

This Sunday, we welcome to our pulpit Rev. Wayne Walder, the founding minister of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Many will recall that Wayne was a member of First Unitarian before beginning seminary and launching Neighbourhod, with some assistance from our congregation, almost twenty years ago.

Over the past year, leaders from our two congregations have been in conversation about how we might strengthen the ties between us, especially as each of us is in discernment about our future real estate options. We have committed to more regular exchanges with each other, so that our congregations may come to know each other better. While Wayne and I are leading this coming Sunday’s service at First, Rev. Lynn Harrison will be preaching at Neighbourhood. In February, I’ll lead a service with Wayne at Neighbourhood, while Lynn preaches at First. Such “pulpit exchanges” have been a feature in our tradition going back to the 17th century, allowing our congregations to hear the insights and wisdom of different members of our clergy. I am excited for us to return to this practice.

Of his sermon on Sunday, and mindful of our theme of Presence for the month of December, Wayne wrote: “It is difficult to be ‘present’ when family and holidays are near. Maybe even more difficult to find our presence in the mystery of the season.” In this service, we will also light our Advent Wreath, our Yule Log, and our Menorah, with help from the kids. Our Resident Musicians will sing Scott Reimner’s “Solstice Carol” as the Introit, and the choir will sing “Veni Sancte Spiritus” by Zanaida Robles as the Anthem.

Finally, between now and New Year’s Day, there are eight worship services on offer at First to help you journey through this season:

  • For those seeking the “quiet centre,” our contemplative Peace & Quiet services continue at 7:00 pm on Sunday evenings (with the exception of Christmas Eve).
  • On Thursday, the 21st, we will gather at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm for our candlelight Winter Solstice Vespers (the two services are identical), which will include Celtic harp music, my homily about seeing the beauty all around us, and the invitation to journey through the vast spiral of evergreens that will be at the centre of this service in the round.
  • On Christmas Eve morning, I’ll be preaching about the spiritual lessons we can take from Santa Claus, while we share in some of the more secular music of the season. That evening, our Candelight Christmas Eve Service will be held at 7:00 pm, with glorious music from the choir. Lynn will offer the sermon, and I will lead the candlelighting.
  • On New Year’s Eve morning, we will mark the transition from this year to the next with our annual Fire Communion Service, as we let go of what we need to relinquish to 2017 and embrace what we most hope to carry with us into 2018. That evening, at 7:00 pm, Lynn will lead the last Peace & Quiet service of the year—a perfect and thoughtful way to welcome the new year.

Please feel free to being family and friends to any of these services.

In whatever ways you celebrate, may this season fill you with light, with hope, and with joy!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 17, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace & Quiet

Sunday evening in Sunderland Hall join us for a contemplative worship service.

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Come join us - claim a time for peace and quiet.

Sunday, December 17, 2017 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Detached from recurrence

"Twinkle, Twinkle" (6 pm)

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton, at a Solstice Vespers service.

View the Order of Service.

Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
This event does not repeat

"Twinkle, Twinkle" (8 pm)

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton, at a Solstice Vespers service.

View the Order of Service.

Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Twas the Morning before Christmas

Sermon by Rev.Shawn Newton.

This Christmas Eve morning, my sermon, “‘Twas the Morning before Christmas,” will speak to the spiritual lessons we can learn from Santa Claus. We share in some of the more secular music of the season, with special music provided by Maya Klinowski-Ferguson and Kelly Ferguson.

Wishing you “comfort and peace” this holiday season.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 24, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Twas the Night before Christmas

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harison.

Our Candelight Christmas Eve Service will include glorious music from the choir and many of the traditional carols of Christmas (with Unitarian-friendly lyrics). Lynn will offer her sermon, “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” and I will lead the candlelighting.

Wishing you “comfort and peace” this holiday season.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 24, 2017 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

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