Final News from the Pews from Sharon December 31, 2020

Mission Statement: We are a diverse, intentional, inclusive, compassionate, hope-filled Christian family of faith, seeking to respect everyone’s individuality and dignity as Jesus modelled, creating safe space, to demonstrate the spirit of God’s love through worship, work, growth, and respect for all creation. We celebrate and value people of every age, health, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family configuration, background, ability, interest, culture, economic circumstance and faith journey. All are encouraged to be in full participation in the life and work of all ministries. We endeavor to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs in our community and beyond.     

Greetings All:

Praying you have all enjoyed a happy, blessed, holy, hope-filled, sacred  and safe Christmas. I thought I would provide one final send-out. 

I want to extend my thanks to all of you again for the generosity that just keeps coming. Your phone calls to me mean so much as we creatively share our farewells. The cards, texts and emails bless us. A special thanks to Carol E for the beautiful words in the YouTube she posted and to Brenda for the heart-warming song she wrote for me. I carry all your love in my heart as we journey forward through endings and beginnings.

Because we are in a provincial lockdown, the church building remains closed to the public through January 23, 2021. The January 10, 2021 service that was to take place in-person in the sanctuary is cancelled due to the provincial lockdown. Please check-in with the office if you did not receive the message and service Christena-Lynn sent out yesterday that included Kevin’s service for Jan. 3 and links to Brenda’s music offerings! Such gifts!

C L will continue to send out the service and newsletter by snail mail on Wednesdays for anyone not having regular internet. Please contact C L if you have items for the newsletter.

The Mission Board is busy reviewing and preparing to identify needs and develop the profile for the church hub. The possibilities are endless. Everyone is encouraged to prayerfully discern how they can use their gifts to continue to tell the story and live into the new chapters of Dunsford United Church’s future. Be empowered to continue to make a difference and know that God is calling you, your strengths, skills and gifts to make a difference. Even if there are areas you have never explored, help shape the future as you grow and are nurtured by the spirit, knowing we never walk alone. Thanks be to God.

When I can next visit you in a year’s time, I look forward to hearing all the ways you have been energized and come together as a village of faith taking care of each other and reaching out into the community and the world, ever being the hands, feet, heart and voice of Jesus!

Dunsford Pastoral Care Phoning Team

Please contact the office or Carol E to let the office or Carol E know if you would like a call or if you know of someone else who would. Consider if you might be called to a ministry of phone outreach.  Keep taking care of each other and staying in contact.

Position Vacancies

The best way forward to help Dunsford be ready for its next season with a new called minister will be with the energy and involvement of all its people. People are needed to support all aspects of the life and work of this community of faith. Explore how you can get involved in the Mission Board Team, the M and P Committee (supporting all our staff in journeying with them in care and prayerful support), the Worship Team (nurturing and supporting ideas in the offering of worship as we dream beyond lockdown and weekly ministry), Technology (being part of the learning of sharing ministry within and beyond our walls), Spiritual Leadership, Christian Education, Community Outreach, the Trustees and the Management Team … Let the seeds be planted and nurtured and work together that we all are nourished body, mind and spirit.

Below please find the transcript for the service of de-covenanting with me as your called minister.

Decovenanting with Dunsford

Surely God is in this place. Help me notice. My name is Sharon Ballantyne and I am the minister at Dunsford United Church. We are an affirming ministry of the United Church of Canada. This is my final opportunity to share worship with you as your called minister as you begin a new journey. We are so blessed to know Kevin will be providing worship as we all pray for the preparations, search and welcoming of a new minister to Dunsford United. I appreciate all of your prayers as I begin my new ministry at Grace United. This worship today, in this time of pandemic, is a farewell, offering our Litany of Transition and Goodbye.

Over my time with you, we embarked in the process of becoming an affirming ministry, uplifting our commitments to seek to invite, welcome and support that we are all needed, valued and belong at our table.

Hear again the words of our mission statement:

We are a diverse, intentional, inclusive, compassionate, hope-filled Christian family of faith, seeking to respect everyone’s individuality and dignity as Jesus modelled, creating safe space, to demonstrate the spirit of God’s love through worship, work, growth, and respect for all creation. We celebrate and value people of every age, health, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family configuration, background, ability, interest, culture, economic circumstance and faith journey. All are encouraged to be in full participation in the life and work of all ministries. We endeavor to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs in our community and beyond.       

Thanks be to God for this community of faith.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS: 

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was signed, on the lands where we are and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect, reconciliation and right relations.

When we are hungry for a sustaining faith, we ask, Are you among us, O God? When we are thirsty for justice and peace, we ask, Are you among us, O God? As wandering people who long for mercy, we ask, are you among us, O God?

Secure in the freedom of your love, we ask, are you among us, O God? And we hear God’s answering song.

Don’t be afraid, my love is stronger,

My love is stronger than your fear.

Don’t be afraid. My Love is stronger

and I have promised, promised to be always near. (More Voices 90)

As Jesus emptied himself to be one with your will, we too seek a deep still point in our souls, O God. May we learn to let go of all that distracts and hinders us from being one with you. As we see ourselves surrounded by the truth of your presence, may we see ourselves as you saw us when you created us in your image. And so we sing our prayer.

Lord, listen to your children praying,

Lord, send your Spirit in this place;

Lord, listen to your children praying,

send us love, send us power, send us grace! (Voices United 400)

O God, we stand at the brink of what has been and what is yet to be. We long to receive the gift of your liberation and to taste the sweetness of your promises. But the way forward is unknown and so we hesitate: discouraged, frightened, insecure, complaining. Yet we know we must move ahead on our journey.  Make us mindful of your sustaining presence and, like a bird in full flight, may this assurance soar within our faith so we can rise above the challenges of this moment and this present season.  God’s message ever speaks:

“My love colours outside the lines,

exploring paths that few could ever find;

And takes me into places where I’ve never been before,

and opens doors to worlds outside the lines. (More Voices 138)

We are assured of your loving presence now and always. We behold symbols of our faith, common to our worship expression and gifts that invite us to always deepen our faith:

A Bible, inviting us to embrace the Word of God to deepen our understanding and sharing of our faith.

A candle inviting the light and love of Christ in our world, in us, through, us around us.

A chalice, inviting us to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that we remember in the sharing of this meal, and we celebrate Jesus always with us.

The cross inviting us to remember who we are and whose we are. We are followers of Christ.

God’s love, revealed in Word, a love revealed in the warmth and light of the candle, a love celebrated in the breaking of bread and cup poured out, a love symbolized by the cross, a love that gathers us into the body…

That is a love that has the power to break hearts of stone, spring forth a fountain of hope, and unleash a river of love. God’s spirit seeks to work in us, that we may have life. We celebrate all that has been and what is yet to be.

Let us pray:

Precious Holy One
A brief look at the news shouts out that there are many bleak places in our world, through mindless violence, through frustration and horror, through grief and distress, through pain and disease. We especially lift up the challenges of this pandemic and all who have lost loved ones, to those suffering with COVID-19, care providers, frontline workers and all of us as we are confronted by the daily impacts on our lives.

Holy One, into these bleak places, into those unnamed sad places, into the hardships of fear, grief and loneliness, pour out your radiance, shower down your light, break through pure brilliance. Fill us with the possibilities and bless each small act to make a difference.

Open us to notice and offer our gifts. Shine on us, in us and through us in the majesty of your deep and unending love. We thank-you for the seasons shared together and the seasons yet to be. Our hearts are at peace and the light of hope shines forth fresh and new with this new day hear our prayers we pray, Amen

In today’s scripture, I am reading from Matthew 10:40-42 from the Message

40-42 “We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

May God add blessing to this reading of holy scripture and may it lead to our deeper understanding.

Grant us, God, the grace of giving with a spirit large and free, that ourselves and all our living we may offer faithfully. (Voices United 540)

We celebrate the covenant relationship between me, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Ballantyne and Dunsford United Church and the former Kawartha Highlands Presbytery which existed at the time of our covenanting and now the East Central Ontario Regional Council, that began on July 1, 2016. Which now is coming to an end.

Friends, you called me into your midst, to serve with you in the ministry of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care. On the day we covenanted to this relationship we acknowledged the presence of the symbols in this worship place:

-The Bible is the symbol of the ministry of the Word among us. May God’s Word continue to challenge, nurture, and inspire you., As Christians, we continue to place scripture at the center of our life. The Word of God lives among us. Thanks be to God.

The font is the symbol of our baptism, the place of our birth into the Body of Christ. May you continue to welcome new members through the Living Waters of our faith. As Christians, we continue to celebrate new life in baptism; the font of blessing welcomes all. Thanks be to God.

The table is the symbol of our communion in Christ, the source of nourishment and strength. May you continue to share the bread and cup, remembering the One who is Bread of Life and True Vine.

As Christians, we continue to break the bread and share the cup; the table invites us to taste and see that God is good. Thanks be to God.

The candle is the symbol of our God in our midst; the light that the darkness cannot overcome. May you continue to be as God’s Light in the World.

We will continue to serve others and to work for justice, following in the way of Jesus, Friend who is a light unto our feet. Thanks be to God.

The cross is a reminder that we walk together, called to love and serve each other, to care and to heal, to teach and to witness to the Word. May you continue to love one another as God has loved you.

We will continue to offer care, challenge, and encouragement to one another, sharing all that we are and have. Thanks be to God.

We will continue to build, to dream and to grow, discerning the will of God for us in our time and place. Thanks be to God.

I thank you, friends—members and adherents of Dunsford United Church for the love and support you have shown me while I have ministered among and with you.  Through the years there have been many blessings and moments of challenge we have shared together.  We thank God for the blessings received in God’s never ending love and care.

The ministry in this place is Christ’s ministry entrusted to us as part of his body.

Our ministry together always belongs to Jesus and is always on going. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. I thank you for the privilege to serve you; for the prayers, support, encouragement, love and care I have received from the people of this community of faith and the surrounding neighbourhood and wider community. I carry with me the many moments we have shared, for all I have learned and the memories that I take with me. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made.

I thank you as a congregation for receiving my thanks and gratitude and for your offering of kind wishes, blessings, continued prayers, forgiveness and acceptance that I am now leaving this community of faith as minister. I thank-you for releasing me with God’s help, from my duties of ministry here

in our midst, no longer turning to me as you have when I was in ministry among you.

I accept your thanksgiving and your forgiveness of me.

I also forgive you and will hold you with joy and fond remembrances. Together, we acknowledge the gift of grace encountered in Christ and together we offer forgiveness to one another – so that our relationship does not end with regrets but with a wonderful sense of unity and love. We have so much to celebrate. May our time together and our parting now be pleasing and acceptable to God. God’s grace is sufficient and we receive the assurance of pardon that comes from Christ.   I now release you with God’s help, from turning to me and depending on me. I encourage your continuing ministry here and will pray for you and for your new ministry personnel. As our paths diverge, let us remember all we have shared and be reminded that no matter where we go or what happens we do not walk alone – for the presence of the living Christ will be with us. You O God are among us yesterday, today, forever!   Thanks be to God!

Go now in peace. Never be afraid.                                                                

God will go with you each hour of every day.

Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true.

Know God will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love, and show you believe.

Reach out to others so all the world can see.

God will be there coming like a dove.                       

Go now in peace, in faith, and in love. Amen.

References:

Decovenanting adaptation from Cambridge Street United, June 28, 2017.Lindsay, ON.

Litany from Grace United Church, Dec. 2020.

Prayer adapted from a prayer written by Julie Rennick and posted on RevGalBlogPals. https://revgalblogpals.org/2018/03/05/monday-prayer-175/

Thank-you for continued support of the local Dunsford Community Food Bank.

Stay safe and stay well.

Prayerfully,

Sharon


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