Events under 'Sunday Services'
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Event Name


Here Together

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison. As the composer David Glasgow wrote, "We are here together in this holy moment." When we come together in congregational life, we invite ourselves into many moments that can indeed be thought "holy" or whole: moments of challenge, change, growth and grace. Sometimes the moments we experience may be difficult. But through it all, we can find meaning and purpose as part of a larger whole. On Sunday June 3rd, we'll welcome a wonderful group of new members to First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, entering into a deeper relationship with each and all of them. Also, we honour and celebrate the many volunteers who make this place "tick," with a very special "thank-you" to take home. We'll hear an inspiring reflection on pastoral care at our congregation, be uplifted by our choir, and delight in the artwork of Colin van Zwyndregt and Lucinda Vandenieuwegiessen, whose exhibit will be officially opened at a reception after service today. This will be my last Sunday with you until August 12th. I hope you enjoy a restful and renewing summer season with Curtis Murphy and Rev. Carly Gaylor, as they reflect on the many seasons of our lives. As always, pastoral care through the Listening Ministry team of lay pastors is here for you during the summer. Thank you for being here, together in community, with all of us at First Unitarian. See you on Sunday! Blessings, Rev. Lynn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, June 03, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Peace and Quiet

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.
Sunday, June 03, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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The Rhythms of our Lives

Sermon by Rev. Carly Gaylor. I am excited to be back at Toronto First this summer; this congregation has a special place in my life and ministry as not only the one which ordained me, but also as the community that nurtured me in my childhood and youth. It has been several years since I last served as your summer minister (2010 and 2011), and I'm looking forward to being with you again along with my partner, Curtis Murphy. Our services this summer will explore significant rites of passage and moments of transition in our lives. I'll be starting the series this Sunday with an invitation to slow down and invite awareness and intention into the rhythms of our lives. Curtis will continue in subsequent weeks with an exploration of different life transitions, starting with death and ending with birth on our last Sunday as your summer ministers. This series has special significance to Curtis and me as we embark on our own momentous life change: preparing to welcome our little one, expected July 10th (give or take a couple of weeks!). We anticipate this transition will be one of incredible joy, discovery, and some challenges, too, and we look forward to sharing parts of our journey with you. In faith, Rev. Carly View the Order of Service.
Sunday, June 10, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Break Not the Circle: Death, Ancestry, and the Wholeness of Life

Sermon by Curtis Murphy. It will be a pleasure to return to Toronto First this Sunday as one of your summer ministers. My partner, Rev. Carly Gaylor, was with you last week, and together we look forward to ministry with you over the next two months. In worship this summer, we will be exploring a series on the stages and transitions of our lives, starting with death and ending with birth. When we gather this Sunday, we will reflect on the rituals that surround death, with consideration of practices from both our culture and others. What does embodied grief look like? What role does ritual play in death and grief? How do we understand death in the context of our own lives and the lives of people who have gone before us? How might we think about death differently? We will also honour Father's Day and take a special collection to support the work of our congregation's Reconciliation Working Group, in honour of National Indigenous Day June 21st. Special note: This Sunday there will be a special real estate congregational meeting and vote, hosted by the Real Estate Task Force. Please plan to stay after the service for lunch, followed by the meeting. Yours on the journey, Curtis Murphy Summer Minister View the Order of Service.
Sunday, June 17, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Creating a Culture of Elderhood

Sermon by Curtis Murphy. This week marks the summer solstice - the longest days of sunlight for us in the Northern Hemisphere. Whether this means rest and relaxation to you, or heightened activity, I hope you are able to find a moment to tune into this special time of the year - as well as finding ways to beat the heat! This week we continue our series on life stages and transitions. Aging and elderhood have an ambiguous place in our culture. Most of us have probably been told at some point - maybe when we were children - to "respect our elders." But what does this mean? And what is an elder, anyway? Is it only a matter of age? And what is the relationship between age and wisdom? What do our notions of progress mean for our relationship with age? These are some of the questions we'll explore in the service this coming Sunday, as we wonder how to create and sustain a culture of healthy elderhood. We will also take the occasion this Sunday to celebrate Pride and the importance of LGBTQ+ members of our communities. Yours on the Journey, Curtis View the Order of Service.
Sunday, June 24, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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What Does it Mean to Be an Adult?

Sermon by Curtis Murphy. This week we continue our exploration of life stages and cycles by asking the question “What does it mean to be an adult?” As with most questions worth asking, there is no one single answer. One possibility could be to say that the meaning of adulthood is something that each of us must figure out for ourselves. And while there is certainly much truth to this perspective, there is no denying that our expectations and aspirations are largely shaped by history, tradition, family and community norms, and contemporary trends. Adulthood is also wrapped up in concepts of independence, which our Unitarian Universalist tradition tells us is also the counterpart to inter-dependence. This Sunday's service will explore how that tension shapes our ideas about being an adult, as well as the ways we support one another in growing into our full selves. This Sunday's service also falls on Canada Day, and while I can't promise that there will be fireworks during the service, I do hope that there will be sparks of curiosity and insight. Yours on the journey, Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister View the Order of Service.
Sunday, July 01, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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The Pains of Growing

Sermon by Danielle Webber. I am so excited to be worshiping with Toronto First again! Having been away from the congregation for the last year, I will soon be leaving the city of Toronto and heading back west, to serve the Kelowna Unitarians church. I will be leaving next week to spend the summer with family and friends in Alberta and Saskatchewan, before heading to Kelowna in August. But first, please join me in an exploration of humanity: (h)yo͞oˈmanədē Compassionate, sympathetic, or generous: the quality or state of being human. The totality of human beings: the human race. With the two very different definitions of humanity, what does it mean to be exploring the growth of humanity? And what really is the difference? We will be looking at how our personal and spiritual growth is different to the growth of human beings, and the human race – trying to understand the pros and cons to how the growth of humans has affected humans. View the Order of Service.
Sunday, July 08, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Sermon by Nicole McKay. Our culture tells us that we must strive for perfection in every aspect of our lives, from "flawless" looks, moving up the corporate ladder, to grades that get us into the best schools. This week, we explore the concept of Wabi-Sabi from Japan which teaches us to accept beauty as imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. As we learn from the wisdom of other cultures, we challenge our understanding of the world. Drawing from some of our six sources, we will explore stories of imperfection and how we can live into it in our daily lives. I hope to see you on Sunday as we create space to embrace ourselves as whole, cracks and all. Blessings, Nicole View the Order of Service.
Sunday, July 15, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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In Between: Rites of Passage

Sermon by Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister. I'm glad to be back in the pulpit this Sunday after being away the last two Sundays. It was a well-timed and well-needed break - those of you who were at the service last week will have heard that Carly and I welcomed our newborn son, Darragh Corwin Gaylor Murphy, on July 9. Everyone is healthy, resting, and enjoying getting to know each other. This week we resume exploring life stages and transitions with a service on rites of passage and in-between times. We tend to associate the concept of rites of passage with the transition from childhood to adulthood, but this is just one of many transitions in life which have been traditionally marked with ritual. We'll explore he relationship between gradual and dramatic change, and ask what it takes to navigate this in life-giving ways, as well as the role of mentors and communities of support. Yours on the journey, Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister View the Order of Service.
Sunday, July 22, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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To Seek the Spirit of a Child

Sermon by Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister. It has been a difficult week in Toronto. The shooting on Danforth avenue last Sunday evening is understandably a source of grief and broken-heartedness. Particularly in the wake of April's van attack and other violent incidents, I know many people are feeling a renewed sense of vulnerability. There is no “right” way to feel in times like this. Our own Rev. Lynn Harrison was part of organizing a vigil and walk in the Danforth neighbourhood, for the community to gather and remind each other that they are not alone, and that love is at least as strong as fear. We will light a special candle to commemorate last Sunday's shooting during our time of joys and sorrows this Sunday. And yet, as a community of love and hope, we will gather again. This week's theme is “To Seek the Spirit of a Child.” Innocence, curiosity, adventure and wonder are characteristics often attributed to children. What are the gifts that this stage of life brings to our community as a whole, and how can we best make space for them? Naturally this is a topic close to my heart as Carly and I learn to be parents to our not-quite three week old son Darragh! I look forward to joining in worship with you this Sunday. Yours on the journey, Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister View the Order of Service.
Sunday, July 29, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Birth and New Beginnings

Sermon by Rev. Carly Gaynor & Curtis Murphy, Summer Ministers, and baby Darragh. It is hard to believe that we are entering our last week of summer ministry with you all at First. Time has gone by so quickly! It has been an honour and a pleasure to share in ministry with you over these past two months. We are touched by all the well-wishes we have received from so many people on the birth of our son Darragh. And it has been a unique opportunity to reflect on this special time in our lives in the context of worship – thank you for sharing that space with us. I look forward to worshipping with you once again this coming Sunday. Carly and Darragh will join us via a video recording, as part of the sermon. The theme of our service is “Birth and New Beginnings.” Together we'll explore what it means to welcome new life into a world of beauty, tragedy, and uncertainty, and try to imagine the future through the eyes of one new to this world. See you Sunday! Yours on the Journey, Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister View the Order of Service.
Sunday, August 05, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Summertime Blues

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison. The sky blue of joy and the deep blue of sorrow: the summer winds have brought both this season. But for many of us, the blues of the darker variety have dominated recently. How is it possible, in today’s complex and deeply challenging world, to keep any wind in our sails? This is a question that poets, songwriters and comics have taken on…and we’ll draw from their well of deep wisdom on Sunday. After being away from First for a time of study and vacation, I’m looking forward to singing and speaking with you again. We’ll hear wonderful guest music from Lindsay Czitron…and mull over New Yorker cartoons, T.S. Eliot poetry and more. There may be no “cure” for the summertime blues, but there’s comfort and inspiration in community. Come join us! Rev. Lynn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, August 12, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. Greetings during these “dog days” of summer. I hope each of you has had ample opportunity in this season to connect (and reconnect) with what sustains you. Over the course of my time away, I’ve been focussed primarily on my studies by doing quite a bit of reading and writing. Part of my dissertation will build on ideas found in Emerson’s “Divinity School Address.” On these warm days, though, my thoughts turn to Emerson’s use of the word “refulgent” to describe this season. I offer you these opening words from his discourse in hopes of inviting you out to notice the world around you: “In this refulgent summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life. The grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers. The air is full of birds, and sweet with the breath of the pine, the balm-of-Gilead, and the new hay. Night brings no gloom to the heart with its welcome shade. Through the transparent darkness the stars pour their almost spiritual rays…. The cool night bathes the world as with a river…. The mystery of nature was never displayed more happily. The corn and the wine have been freely dealt to all creatures, and the never-broken silence with which the old bounty goes forward, has not yielded yet one word of explanation. One is constrained to respect the perfection of this world, in which our senses converse. How wide; how rich; what invitation from every property it gives to every faculty…!” I truly hope you’ve had at least a moment of such wonder this summer. I look forward to being back in the pulpit this Sunday, as I take up the questions of vulnerability, trust, and an abiding sense of trust in a sermon titled, “Enoughness.” Our new resident musician Stephanie Bennett will sing “The Sound of Silence”. Mira Jung will be our guest pianist. I hope to see you soon. In faith and love, Shawn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, August 19, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. John Lennon said it on the track for “Beautiful Boy”: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” There are times when we feel our life is on track, unfolding completely according to plan. And then there are the other times. This week’s service and sermon will speak to those moments of transition, when we find ourselves recalculating as we pivot from what we expected to what we didn’t. A group from the choir will sing “Song for the Mira” and Tony Iacovino will share the story of “The Lion and the Mouse.” In love and faith, Shawn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, August 26, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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"Returning again to where we began"

Sermon by Chris Moore. When Rev. Shawn approached me about this sermon, he suggested that it would also be a good opportunity to update the congregation on where I am in my process of transformation into U.U. Ministry. So, here it goes… Last year I completed my studies at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. I graduated with an M. Div. I also graduated with a second master’s degree in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy. In the course of my studies, I managed to collect two awards for my “Achievements in Theology”. Over the past year, I have been serving as a Chaplain at The Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener. This allowed me to complete a second “Pastoral Counselling Education Unit” through The Canadian Assoc. for Spiritual Care. Until now, I have lived and worked in Toronto and commuted to Kitchener/Waterloo as needed. But as of Tuesday September 4th, 2018, I will be serving as the Intern Minister between the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph and Grand River Unitarian Congregation. Commuting is no longer a viable option. And so, I have relocated to the Kitchener/Waterloo area. After being with First for the past decade, it is a bitter sweet moment indeed. I will miss First. But I am looking forward to a new chapter in both my vocation and life. I hope to share some of the lessons learned along the way - through this Sunday’s sermon. So, if you happen to be in T.O. this weekend, I hope you can join me and the rest of our worship team Sunday morning. If not, catch us online. Many blessings, and thank you. Chris Moore View the Order of Service.
Sunday, September 02, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Joy like a Fountain

Water Communion Service. Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton & Rev. Lynn Harrison. With the turn of the calendar and a change in the weather, we begin an exciting new year in the life of our congregation. There are a number of things I am delighted to share with you: Beginning this Sunday we are introducing some experiments in our worship to improve the flow of the service and provide a more multi-sensory experience that helps us to be more inclusive of a wider number of people with different learning styles and ways of being. Through the course of this upcoming year, we will feature several “worship series” that will be layered on top of the monthly Journey Group themes. This week, we begin a five-week series called “Got Joy?” In mid-October, Lynn and I will begin a seven-week series on “The Examined Life.” For the month of December, our series will be “Still.” With each of these series, various parts of the service will change—with different tunes sung or words spoken, here and there—allowing for fresh, new elements alongside the familiar. As ours is a Living Tradition, may this adventure be an opportunity for discovery and growth. This Sunday we’ll celebrate the congregation’s fall ingathering with our annual Water Communion ritual. Remember to bring water you may have collected from a meaningful moment from your summer. (Proxy water will be on hand for those who need it.) My sermon will reflect on our need to find joy, even in trying times. On Sunday, the 16th we will celebrate our tenth anniversary with Angela Klassen, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, and Dallas Bergen, our Director of Congregational Music. We will honour them both during worship for their decade of service, and then offer tributes amid special festivities during Coffee Hour. That morning, the choir will sing a new anthem by our own Lucas Marchand that was commissioned for the occasion. It’s time to sign up for Journey Groups, our small group gatherings that reflect on a different theme each month. If you’re not already in a group, or if you’re wanting to switch to a new group, please complete the registration form by the end of September. We now have an accessible washroom on the ground floor. Many thanks to Craig Mahood and the team bringing this project to completion. This washroom and the other single-user washrooms on the second floor are open to people of all genders. The other multi-stall washroom on the ground floor is available for anyone who identifies as a woman or girl. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. In faith and love, Shawn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, September 09, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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More Joy Somewhere

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. It was wonderful to mark the beginning of a new year last Sunday. This week, we celebrate the 10th anniversary on staff of both Angela Klassen and Dallas Bergen. We will honour their contributions to our community during the service and at the party that will follow afterwards. Our gift for Dallas will be a new anthem we commissioned our own Lucas Marchand to compose for the occasion. Called “Beloved,” the piece integrates the words of Rumi with those of choir members who offered reflections on what it means for them to make music with Dallas. On Sunday morning, we’ll also continue our worship series, “Got Joy?”. (By the way, these series present a great opportunity to invite a friend to join us.) In my sermon, I’ll explore that common temptation to believe others are having all of the fun—that there is more joy out there, somewhere just beyond our grasp. But what if the search for joy isn’t so much of an outward journey as it is an inward quest for what is already right before us, or even within? Join us on Sunday, for the festivities, and for the joy that comes in being together! In faith and love, Shawn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, September 16, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Joyful, Joyful

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison. This Sunday, we continue our five-part series on the subject of “Joy.” It’s something we may long for, more than ever, in troubling times. Where can we find that joy? Is it something within us, or outside us? Is it found primarily in connection with others or can it be discovered in solitude? The hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (found in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal “Singing the Living Tradition”) links the state of joy to a higher power, which the hymn names as “God.” How might that concept be viewed in today’s times, as we continue to seek joy? On Sunday, we’ll draw on both ancient and contemporary sources of inspiration to explore that theological question. The beauty of music is a source of joy for many people (including me!) and on Sunday, we’ll hear Beethoven’s exquisite melody interpreted by pianist Lisa Iwasaki, as well as the Choir of First Unitarian led by Dallas Bergen, our Minister of Congregational Music. It will be a joyful day, as we tap into the “wellspring of the joy of living”…in all the many ways we experience it! With joy, Rev. Lynn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, September 23, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Joyful is the Dark

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison. On Sunday, September 30th our series on "Joy" continues, with a look at joy's shadow side. Plus, we mark our annual Central America Sunday, celebrating the ongoing work of many in our congregation to help build schools and a community centre in Honduras and Guatemala. Given the depth of challenges people face both globally and locally, finding joy can at times seem almost impossible. Many have found that service to others can provide a route toward the joy they seek. As well, many teachers have shown us that even "dark nights of the soul" can lead to deep meaning and joyful purpose. The hymn "Joyful is the Dark" describes a "spirit of the deep" that can help us find a way through the darkness. After Sunday's service, in addition to special food, piñatas and more festivities, an "At First" workshop will take place (more details and registration information below). If you're new to our community, or would like to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and First Unitarian, join me and Angela Klassen for "At First: Seek" on Sunday afternoon. Wishing you joy, Lynn View the Order of Service.
Sunday, September 30, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Peace and Quiet

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.
Sunday, September 30, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

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