This past week on my last day at The Westmount I left my house and started driving. I was past Wilmot Center when I realized I was driving to New Dundee instead of Kitchener. I turned my van around and headed down Bleams Road towards Kitchener. I got to Queen Street and turned right. It wasn’t until I got to the golf course that I noted again I was headed to St. James. That’s when I realized that all roads really do lead to St. James in New Dundee. God is very much alive and present in this place.
I remember when I started at St. James in New Dundee, I was so impressed with the people of St. James. When I started as your interim pastor when Pastor Joanne was on sick leave, one of the first things I discovered is not only that you were not afraid of change, but you really were craving change. You asked for more lay participation in worship, more youth ministry, new music and other things. As a young new pastor, I was ready to offer leadership for those changes.
In the almost 15 years that I have served as pastor to St. James we have been very actively following God’s call together. The council said youth ministry and together we sent youth all across Canada from Vancouver to PEI and Whitehorse and many stops in between. We started a youth retreat at Camp Edgewood that is legendary. We were the only church I’m aware of that had hockey nets in front of our church. I said we need nets and the next Sunday they were there. Murray you were always a champion for the youth. Liza, Susan and Durward you always gave me a little extra to make sure the youth had enough. We had ball hockey tournaments and tried all sorts of crazy youth ideas. There were dances and dinners, games of spoons and hide and go seek in the church. There are way too many youth to name them all and some youth stories that are better just as memories. Our youth always said yes to flipping pancakes, making spaghetti, serving their neighbours, and helping others. We discovered our faith through fun, hard work, travel, camp, and experiences. So many people offered support in so many ways to the youth – your money, your time and support – you showed up for our youth!!
Ministry at St. James was very active in many ways because of all of you. Jan came to me with an idea about prayer blankets and lots of people in the church got activated. Kelly came to me after a service and said – “What do you need for Camp Edgewood” and together with her leadership we raised $10,000.00. Susan said “I can lead an adult ed class”. Jim said “Let’s do a games night”. Sandy said “Let’s try a play”. Anne said “I will lead the worship committee”. Jim said I can plow the snow. Jody, Rita, Sharon, Julianne, and Nancy said I can help by serving God as church secretary. Pat, Dorthy, Melanie, and Hannah said I can edit the proclamation. Steve said I can make a website. Elvira, Borge, and Vi said I will help the church by leaving them money to carry on ministry after I’m gone. Laurie said – let’s help our neighbor with coats, mitts and food. Kathy said – I will take care of this and that and the other thing too! Durward, Lori, Bob and Susan said I have financial talents, let me be the treasurer. Annette, Marg and Jerry said “Me too – I will be the financial secretary”. Brenda said “I will track the baptisms for you”. Marie and Marylin said “I will guide this new pastor and help show her the way”. Jackie and Frank and many others said “You need help with communion PB” Lily, Jacob, Nancy and Josh just say “What do you need PB” Jim, Mark, Peter and Susan said “I can preach”. Judy, Linda, Laura and so many others said “I can read the lessons”. Lukas, Nathanial, Thomas, Amedeo said “I can mow the lawn and help with the property.” Donna said “I can play music every week” and Bob and Anne said “I can clean every week”. Many, many of you said I can lead by sitting on council, some of you stepped up to be chairs of council. Monica recently offered to lead and she has led us through some pretty big changes. Anthony said “I can set up an AV system for you”. Dave said “I’ll stand on the pews and make that projector work”. Peter said “I can take that organ out for you”. Carl said “I will check the church, and run the heat, and any time you have a problem with the church, call me and I will be there.” Carl also said “We will get that lift working, even if I have to trap the repair man in it.” Ruth said “I will keep Carl on track”. Marshall and Erika said “I can play music for you”. Bonnie and Willis said “Let’s collect milk bags”. Ruth and Marge said “I’m quite good at baking, I can feed you”. Winston and Doreen said “I can sing”. Olivia said “I can teach and save the whales”. Robert said “Yes I can move that bench and No I won’t move it back”. Karina said my dogs will bring joy to worship”. Kathy said “I know about those Christmons and yes PB I will find that article again for you”. Jean, Elizabeth, Marie and others said “I can quilt for the seminary and CLWR”. David said “Let’s run this grocery cart down the ramp and ram it into the railing and then we will bounce over the railing – that would be fun”. Okay maybe everything we did in youth ministry was not smart but we never had to call the ambulance, even when Nick lost at the very dangerous game of mattress wars. Jim and Coral, Brad and Cindy, Janice and Tom and so many others said “I can make coffee and snacks and greet”. There is probably a few of you that I have not mentioned by name – I know you all stepped up to serve this church and to serve your God. Thanks for all you do.
YOU RUN THIS CHURCH – Sometimes I wonder what I actually did as your pastor since you all did so much. You all do so much to make St. James an amazing church living out God’s mission in the community of New Dundee.
St. James really is an amazing church family. We care for each other and love each other deeply in good times and in bad.
As I leave St. James, I know that I am leaving a healthy, strong, faith filled family that will continue to step up, and follow God’s call and vision for the future.
Continue to grow in your faith and be active in your support of each other, the community, and the world. May God’s blessings be upon this place, the ministry of St. James and may God continue to bless each and every one of you!!
With love and deep appreciation for our work together!