Joan Vinall-Cox

Longtime member of Maple Grove United Church. Retired from teaching communication skills at Sheridan College and at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Ph.D on transitioning into teaching using the computer and the internet - Following the Thread: A New Technology on Scribd. Check it out: https://www.scribd.com/book/2063617

The lockdown is not an attack on religious freedom in Ontario

Michael Coren is an author, columnist, radio and TV broadcaster, and Anglican clergyman. This is his opinion piece and is linked here for your information.

https://www.tvo.org/article/the-lockdown-is-not-an-attack-on-religious-freedom-in-ontario?amp

OPINION: Churches defying public-health measures aren’t examples of courage in the face of tyranny. Religious leaders may be about saving souls — but they should also be about saving lives – By Michael Coren – Published on Jan 04, 2021

It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I fear it won’t be the last. But the punishment of six members of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo for breaching Ontario’s lockdown restrictions is causing quite the reaction. Regional police monitored a church gathering on December 27, saw a congregation that was larger than the 10 indoors/10 outdoors allowed, and brought charges under the Reopening Ontario Act.

“For years, we have taught our children to respect police, and now our children and grandchildren are witness to their fathers and grandfathers receiving charges from police for worshipping Christ with our church,” responded the church in a press release. “It is a dark day for Waterloo Region and Ontario.” It added that the lockdown was “an unconstitutional and unlawful restriction of religious freedom.”

Predictably, this conservative church has been championed by a number of right-wing websites and blogs and held up as an example of courage in the face of tyranny. Which would be amusing if it were not so dangerous and tragic. Because as flawed and difficult as the lockdown is, it’s a central tool in the fight against the COVID-19 plague and will remain essential until vaccinations become readily available.

And this in no way constitutes an attack on religious freedom: it’s a science-based defence of the general population, especially the most vulnerable. Freedom of worship has not been limited: restrictions have been placed on the right to assemble in churches and thereby increase the likelihood of the spread of infection. Such a spread doesn’t endanger only the person who decides to attend church, but also the innocent other parties whom the worshipper then meets. Remember the central teaching of Jesus: “This is the first and the great commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Canadian churches have, in fact, been overwhelmingly supportive of these painful but necessary measures, and most have never demanded regular attendance, though it’s advised and appreciated. The largest one that does insist — Roman Catholicism — has been highly responsive regarding the pandemic, even though, in theory, Rome demands that adherents receive the Eucharist at least every Sunday, and believers are in a state of sin if they miss without valid reason. The Catholic Church in Canada has given a general dispensation during the crisis and also airs services online.

It’s safe to say that the more fundamentalist the church, whatever its denomination, the more likely it is to embrace conspiracy theories about the virus, to see the evil hand of secular government behind the lockdown, and to regard resistance as some form of Christian duty. It’s worse south of the border, where a number of churches have exposed their members to potentially fatal infection. Difficult to forget the CNN coverage of a woman leaving such a church in Ohio and explaining that she wasn’t worried because, she said, “I’m covered in Jesus’s blood.”

On a personal level, I’m the pastoral associate, an ordained cleric, at a large Anglican church in Burlington. We hold Zoom services each Sunday morning and regular weekly morning prayer. I lead or participate in church men’s group, mental-health groups, prayer shawl groups, and groups that don’t even have a name. I give my phone number to congregants, they call me whenever they need to, and we chat, laugh, cry, pray. We help one another and share our faith. I spend time with people who have lost parents and loved ones, with those who grieve and weep. I listen because people need to be listened to. It’s what I signed up for, and it’s a privilege and an honour.

And I am one of many, all across the province, the country, the world. Of course we would sometimes like to be physically present with people, but, in truth, there are times when the imposed distance is liberating and helpful for the situation. But the point is that we are living in a plague year, and business is simply not as usual. We are about saving souls but also about saving lives — and certainly not putting them in greater danger.

It’s difficult not to conclude that there is an element of soft martyrdom at play in the “resisting” churches, a certain self-righteousness and paranoia. Those who organize and lead prohibited services are given a relatively small fine or penalty and then parade themselves as if they were part of a genuinely persecuted church. As someone who has seen the persecuted church, stood with people in regions of the Middle East whose loved ones have been slaughtered because of their faith, the comparison is downright insulting.

Like all people of conscience and a sense of communal solidarity, Christians have a duty right now to listen to informed wisdom, keep people safe, and not be selfish. It’s ethical and vital, and it’s what Jesus would have done.

Grace Moment – Poem

Screenshot of a poem on Twitter

This poem touched me deeply, and so did the poet’s response – an unexpected human connection. There are moments of grace, depending on who you follow, even on Twitter. I like being reminded that something that made me very sorrowful has turned out to be a true gift, that what gives me redemption can also be fearful, and that truth can cause difficult emotional eruptions. This poem reminds me that not all the steps in our life’s journey and on our spiritual path are easy – but that they are enriching and enlivening.

Centering Prayer Meeting on Zoom

Centering Prayer icon

During the pandemic, Maple Grove’s Centering Prayer Group has continued meeting Tuesdays from 7:00 pm to 8:15 on Zoom. We welcome any who want to join us in meditating, Bible reading, and learning more about the effect of, and how to do, Centering Prayer.

Our usual meeting:
– Our opening prayer
– 20 minutes of silent centering prayer (a form of meditation)
– Reciting the Lord’s Prayer
– A form of meditative Scripture reading called Lectio Divina
– Social chatting, catching up with everybody’s week
– Reading books or watching videos about centering prayer

Some of us also meet on Zoom Friday evenings from 7:00 to about 8:00 for a briefer, less formal centering prayer, led by Susan Garofolo.

If you would like to see what this is like, and maybe join our group, email joan.vinallcox@gmail.com

Virtual Worship – November 8

In the “comment” space below the video of the church service for November 8, you can say hello to Rev. Kerry, speak to the musicians and/or readers, thank the technicians or simply greet everybody. Sometimes it takes a little while before the comment is “live” and appears; please be patient.

There will be a Zoom Coffee Time at 11:00 am.

Sad News – Barbara Potter

Barbara was Maple Grove’s Choir Director and organist many years ago. Here is Mike Ware’s comment and the Facebook information.

Not sure how many of us are old enough to remember having Barb Potter as our choir director, An amazing woman that was very instrumental in Michelle’s development and love of singing. Perhaps you could forward to choir members. Mike
https://www.facebook.com/barbara.york1/posts/10225367149464875

If You’re New to Zoom

In case you’re unsure about using Zoom, here’s a video and a link about how to get started with Zoom, so you can more comfortably join the Zoom Annual Report meeting on October 25 at 11:00 am


Zoom – https://zoom.us/ – has a lot of information on its site. You might find it helpful to browse through some of the videos and see which ones you find understandable.

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-How-Do-I-Join-A-Meeting-?flash_digest=26dc1d89eea61db79f4 – ea080acaceb97f3ce8ee9&zcid=1670

For more detailed information about getting started, choose from the list here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/200101697

I find, when I’m learning how to do something using videos, that it helps me to see more than one video about the same thing. I also find it helpful to pause the video at spots and go to another web browser tab and do what the video describes, so I can do it one step at a time.

There’s also information on how to join Zoom using a phone. – https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/360001370051

Send any questions to mgucnews@googlegroups.com

Message from Rev. Kerry

Hello friends in Christ,It is with great excitement that I begin at Maple Grove. Excited since I have already felt the Spirit move through the various ZOOM committee and council meetings that I have attended, in the last weeks. Through the experience of those meetings it is evident to me that you are living the mission at Maple Grove to be a vital, active, caring Christian community growing in faith by celebrating God’s love. I am truly humbled and honoured to be called to serve you as we journey together in Jesus’ name. 

We most likely will not be able to join together in the sanctuary for awhile as the pandemic is now in its second wave in Ontario, however, with the gift of music from Deborah, Eran and the other musicians, the scripture readers and the technical gifts of Al, JC, Joan and the other techies, we will continue the recorded virtual services as has been the practice over the past seven months. At times like this, which is unprecedented in our lives, it is a blessing to have the technology that connects our community of faith and our friends.  

This Sunday, October 4th is World-Wide Communion Sunday and I invite you to join with me as I celebrate communion as Christians are doing around the world. You are invited to participate by having bread or your choice of this representation of the body and then juice or your choice as well for the cup of salvation.  

My first message “Hey there you!” is based on Matthew 21: 33-46.  Its the third parable in Matthew using the vineyard metaphor and speaks of relationships.   

Friends I look forward to sharing the good news with each of you whether it be in person or by utilizing technology. Through scripture and prayer I am reassured of God’s presence in our lives. If there is ever a time you need to contact me please do not hesitate to use my email address revkerrymguc@gmail.com  and I will get back to you so we can set up a phone or ZOOM call. You can also leave me a message at the church number and Bobbi-Jo will contact me with your information. 

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  
Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Kerry

Worship – September 13

You can say something or thank Deborah and Eran, Gordon Grant, Charlotte Taylor, Al Wheable, J.C. Berube, and Joan in the Comment area below.

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