On November 23, 2008, I had the privilege of preaching at the two morning services at Grace Church (Presbyterian), West Hill, Ontario – the easternmost part of Scarborough, which is the easternmost borough of Toronto. I have some dear friends who are part of that church family, so it was a delight to be asked to preach there, on the day they celebrated their 50th anniversary as a congregation.
Grace has two different kinds of worship gatherings each Sunday: a somewhat laid-back traditional service, and a more ramped-up contemporary service. Each of these was well-attended by people at various ages and stages of life. As go the services, one might say, so also go the leaders! The Interim Moderator (the pastor who oversees the church when there is no incumbent minister) is my good friend, Dr. Everett Briard, who until 1997 had been the pastor of that congregation for some 28 years. As he provides interim leadership to the congregation, he has the privilege of greeting, as adults, people he baptized and people he welcomed into membership during his tenure. His presence gives Grace a sense of stability when they need it the most.
Grace’s other pastor is Mona Scrivens, who had initially served as the congregation’s youth director. Sensing God’s call to ordained leadership, she engaged in theological study while maintaining her work at Grace. Then, earlier this year, the congregation called her to be an assistant pastor with a special responsibility in family ministry. Mona brings an energy and passion to her leadership that is, in my experience, unparalleled. Her love for the Lord and for the people she serves spills out of her moment by moment. I have walked with Mona through her student days, and marvelled at her enthusiasm.
Both Everett and Mona bring different gifts to the ministry at Grace, and the Lord is blessing the church through them. I don’t visit a lot of churches that have a “buzz” when the people gather. Grace Church has a “buzz”.
The message I preached in celebration of their 50th anniversary may have been “preaching to the choir” for some of them, though several people in each service told me how it challenged them. Give it a listen and let me know what youthink. (If you’re from Nobleton, parts of this will sound familiar. I think every church can stand to hear this application of the parable of the lost son!)