The Moderator of the United Church of Canada is only able to visit a dozen or so of the church’s 2,700 congregations across the country every year – and Grace United was one of them.
As part of the congregation’s 200th anniversary celebration, Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne gave a sermon during last church’s Sunday service, touching on pressing issues and themes in the faith community.
“We have these congregations all across the country that have declining memberships and declining resources and that’s true of religion all across Canada, not just the United Church of Canada,” Lansdowne told The Lake Report later.
“I preached on the story from Exodus of the Manna and the Quail and how God provides for us and wishes for us to have life in abundance and to leave space to be surprised by God’s gifts.”
Pauline Miller, chair of the church council, said that while numbers may be dwindling, celebrations like the bicentennial bring out the strong community at Grace United.
“Everybody that comes is committed. They give 150 per cent,” Miller said.
“The joke is that the first Sunday you’re here, the following Sunday you’re probably gonna be hit up for some committees,” she said.
Sunday’s bicentennial celebration has been in the works all year, along with other commemorative activities led by organizer Bill Leighfield.
Lansdowne travelled to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Toronto on Sunday morning, but lives in Coquitlam, B.C., and is often travelling all over the world.
“I’m usually attending regional and partnership events. I’ve attended two of the national gatherings on unmarked burials for residential school graves. I attended the World Council of Churches general assembly in Germany last summer,” Lansdowne said.
She cited Youth Climate Motivators and a National Book Club among many initiatives taken on by the United Church.
Miller added Lansdowne’s sermon tied in beautifully with the church’s hopes to include the Indigenous population.
“It was 90 years ago last week that there was a Moderator from the United Church that spoke here, so I guess it happens once a century,” Miller said.
On Grace United’s actual anniversary date of Nov. 19, the past moderator will attend to provide another celebratory sermon.