Events under 'Sunday Services'
Monday, March 30, 2020

Event Name


Thunder Woman Healing Lodge

Sermon by Patti Pettigrew.


As we celebrate International Women’s Day this Sunday, it is an honour to welcome to our pulpit Patti Pettigrew, the President of the Board of the Thunder Woman Healing Lodge and member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. Patti will share the complicated journey involved in establishing the first healing lodge in Ontario to serve Indigenous women who are in conflict with the law. The healing lodge, which has recently been approved for construction in the Cliffside area of Scarborough, will help to support the healing, rehabilitation, and reintegration of Indigenous women offenders. Thunder Woman Healing Lodge will be the beneficiary of our March Sharing the Plate offerings. Patti was also instrumental in organizing the recent demonstration and round dance in support of the Wet’suwet’en at Queen’s Park; I have invited her to share her candid reflections on this complicated moment in our national life, as well. I look forward to being in conversation with her during the service and sharing the story of how First Unitarian has a long-standing tie to this work of rehabilitating incarcerated women.


View the Order of Service.


Sunday, March 01, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Love in a Time of COVID-19

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.


There’s an old maxim in preaching that says the preacher should, in preparing for the task, have the scriptures in one hand and a newspaper in the other. There is something to that, even for a Unitarian Universalist minister. The challenge, as always, is to seek to be relevant by holding wisdom teachings—be they ancient or more modern—alongside our pressing contemporary concerns. That said, I don’t tend to preach to the headlines from week to week; I have witnessed the pitfalls of sermonic ambulance-chasing that arise when a preacher doesn’t take time to allow a deeper perspective to settle in.

Still, there are moments when the pulpit must be used to speak to current issues in an immediate way. This is turning out to be one of those weeks. Actually, it’s turning out to be one of those months. I had long planned this month to preach about radical inclusion and to unpack some of the harder stories from UU history that I believe have enduring wisdom for us today. Those sermons will have to wait. In their place, it has felt critically important to carve out time to reflect on other things: the unfolding situation between the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Canada, and the process of change in light of our congregation’s upcoming move to a new location. This week, the sermon that I feel most needs to be preached is about the novel coronavirus.

As it becomes clear we are very likely facing a pandemic in the coming weeks and months, we are being inundated with helpful but concerning information. We are rightly being told not to panic but to prepare. I hope everyone is heeding this guidance by stocking up on canned goods and upping their hand-washing technique. At the same time, what I feel missing from the larger public conversation is any mention of the spiritual preparation required if we are to bring the best of our humanity to this shared health crisis. As it turns out, COVID-19 confronts us with some deeply theological questions about vulnerability and fear, about individualism and interdependence, about equity and compassion, about racism and how we relate to our neighbours. This Sunday, we’ll dig into these questions, while also marking International Women’s Day through an array of music by female composers and/or lyricists and a special offering to support the creation of the Thunder Woman Healing Lodge.

As I said last week, the leadership of the congregation is closely monitoring the guidance from public health officials so we can support and sustain the congregation through the challenges we may face. In the coming days, we will release our plans for managing various aspects of congregational life should community transmission occur in Toronto and social distancing be encouraged or required by the government. Mostly, at this point, I want to say that I know the emergence of this virus is weighing heavily on many of your hearts. Let us take care of each other and ourselves, while vigorously washing our hands along the way (and eating well and getting good sleep).

Finally, a reminder that we will shift early on Sunday morning to Daylight Saving Time.

In faith and love,


View the Order of Service.


Sunday, March 08, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Non-Anxious Presence in a Pandemic

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.


Sunday, March 15, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Myth of Certainty

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.


In the span of a week, much of what so many of us took to be “normal life” has been upended by the extraordinary measures we’re all being asked to follow in hopes of flattening the curve of the spread of the coronavirus. I know this change of circumstances is proving difficult for many people, especially in light of the possibility that these measures may be in place for months rather than weeks. Every one of us is being asked to rearrange our lives as a result. Remember that doing so is ultimately an act of love—for life, for neighbour, for our nearest and dearest, and for ourselvesl. As I said in last Sunday’s online service, keep reminding yourself of the deeper reason you are—we are—doing this.

It was good to be together on Sunday, via Zoom and YouTube. While we’ll continue to iron out the technical glitches, what matters most is our being able to connect with each other in these uncertain times of physical distancing. For this Sunday’s service, I’ll be reflecting on the acceptance of uncertainty.

Going forward, we will meet each Sunday at 10:30am for a simple service and a virtual “coffee hour”. Every Tuesday at noon, I will host a drop-in conversation and check-in that will include a chalice lighting and reading and time for shared silence. Rev. Lynn will facilitate a similar drop-in conversation on Thursday evenings at 7:30.

As well, most of our Journey Groups will continue to meet, but now online rather than in-person. If you would like to join a Journey Group, please let me know.

We are expanding our existing caring ministries and Engage & Connect structures to help provide pastoral and practical support to anyone in the congregation who would like it. You can find more information about how to request help or volunteer to provide assistance with grocery or prescription delivery.

Let us be gentle with ourselves and each other in these coming days.

In faith and love,

Sunday, March 22, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

On Peace and Powerlessness

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.


In the week since your last First Light, we’ve been adjusting to social distancing and self-isolation, acquiring new skills that help us connect with each other, and often dealing with significant amounts of disorientation, anxiety and sadness. The coronavirus pandemic is having profound effects on everyone in our world.

As I’ve spoken to many of you in recent days, the theme of powerlessness has come up frequently. We may wish we could do more to help others, wonder if we’re doing enough to slow the rates of infection (current information from Health Canada is here) or feel we’ve lost considerable control over our lives.

My reflections on Sunday will explore how we can find some measure of peace, even times when we feel powerless. As we are swept up in this event of such great magnitude, how can we stay grounded and centred? Join us at 10:30 on Sunday, via Zoom and YouTube. Stay on Zoom for “virtual coffee hour” and the Congregational Conversation on real estate matters.

We continue to encourage you to join our online drop-ins during the week, with Rev. Shawn at noon on Tuesdays and with me at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. We hope these opportunities to gather will allow us all to connect and reflect in the ways we need, during these extraordinary days.



(No Order of Service this week.)

Sunday, March 29, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

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