Virtual Service – May 2, 2021

8:30 am

May 2, 2021

Virtual Service - Anniversary Sunday

Welcome to virtual church!

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Sunday Service Video (30+ minutes followed by the hymns)

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text. If you wish, you can download and print the service from this document – link – or you can read the complete service below.

The hymn-sing is at the end.


Announcements

• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. Have you ever messed up and hurt someone’s feelings? There’s a verse for that!
•  Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayers requests can be sent to office@waltonmemorial.com
•  If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at jamescgillwuc@gmail.com


Joint Virtual Reading of “A Song of Faith”

God is Holy Mystery,
beyond complete knowledge,
above perfect description.

Yet,
in love,
the one eternal God seeks relationship.

So God creates the universe
and with it the possibility of being and relating.
God tends the universe,
mending the broken and reconciling the estranged.
God enlivens the universe,
guiding all things toward harmony with their Source.

Grateful for God’s loving action,
We cannot keep from singing.
With the Church through the ages,
we speak of God as one and triune:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We also speak of God as
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer
God, Christ, and Spirit
Mother, Friend, and Comforter
Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love,
and in other ways that speak faithfully of
the One on whom our hearts rely,
the fully shared life at the heart of the universe.

We witness to Holy Mystery that is Wholly Love.

 

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to worship. Today is Anniversary Sunday, 171 years. We’ve taken out of the church archives the photo directories, here on the pew in front of me. We began with black and white and then moved to colour. It is wonderful to look at the directories to see all the people, to look at the events and special services that tell a special story of this family of faith.

As well, we have Walton’s Church History, published back in 2000 for the millenium, for the 75th Anniversary for the United Church of Canada, and for 150 years of Walton Church. A story of faith beginning in 1850 to the present. We have been blessed over the years as a family of faith.

We are blessed today and we look to the future with confidence, with hope and with promise.
Come let us worship.

Call to Worship

Our story of faith and ministry is colourful and vibrant.
We herald our history with pride and delight. Yet, we also remember our challenges with hope and sometimes disappointment.

We have adapted to our changing needs and ever-shifting demands.
We celebrate the many decades of learning, growing, and adapting and praising God. We pray that the Spirit will continue to inspire us in the changes and adaptations we yet need to embrace.

Celebrating 171 years as Walton Memorial United Church, and a church family stretching across decades, communities, provinces, even countries.

(adapted Laura Turnbull, The Gathering Pentecost 1 2021)

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, we gather today as your people, on this anniversary of Walton Church. Here we are joining generations who have worshipped in, shared in the mission of, and cherished this denomination before us. Here we are joining people together from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds, places and even countries.

Some of us know you through reading the scriptures and in exploring your word.
Some of us understand you through a close relationship with Jesus, your son.
Some of us discover you in the community we form together, spiritually and virtually.
Some of us find you as we serve others.
Some of us know your presence as we seek justice and right relations in this world.
Some of us discover you in the stillness of prayer and contemplation.
Some of us experience you and your word through music and song.

There are so many ways to know you, so many ways to serve you, so many gifts you have given to each of us for the common good.

Together, we are the Body of Christ.

Together we are known as Walton Memorial United Church, part of the family of God.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Youth Story: “Cake: A Great Walton Tradition”

Whenever here at Walton we see the Sanctuary door open and the trolley brought out, we know there is a cake being presented, a wonderful Kathy Morch creation that we present for special events. Today it is to celebrate Linda and Val’s anniversaries.

If we take a look at this cake, we notice some special things:

•  The beautiful daffodils, a symbol of spring.
•  The butterflies, a symbol of Easter. There are Emperor, Monarch, Tiger, African and Peacock butterflies on the cake.
•  Even the writing is special; it’s St. Cuthbert’s Gospel Script with a history in the church’s life.

Today, we wish we could be together in Bronte Hall, after Sunday School, gathering together to celebrate and to share this beautiful cake. So today, we share it virtually and we say thank you and congratulations to Linda and Val!

Dedication of Anthem

Today we dedicate an anthem Linda wrote. The idea originally came to Linda when she was asked to sing with Tom Oliver at the 100th anniversary of Hickson United Church. She sketched out the main idea and they sang part of it for them.

In 2002, Linda took the idea and expanded it, writing it out for SATB with a solo part for Ron Tidy. Walton has been singing it ever since. Linda added a flute part along the way.
Last June, a choir director in London, Ontario heard it during one of our Walton virtual services and asked Linda where he could buy it. He wanted it for his choir for Rally Day. Linda told him there was no written accompaniment.

A month later a publisher asked about putting Linda’s church songs for kids together in a book. Together as One is not for kids; however she really liked it and thought it should be done up for other choirs.

The book Praise Songs for Kids will include 10-12 original songs written for Walton children’s choirs over the years. There will be mention of Walton in the book, Linda is told. The book will include “Working Together,” which Linda wrote for Stewardship Sunday about 20 years ago and used in the hymn sing on this May 2nd. The book will sell online from the publisher and on Amazon.

We dedicate this 170th Anniversary anthem to the praise and worship of God, in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Anthem: “Together as One”

 

Scripture Reading: John 15: 1-8

Jesus the True Vine
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Morning Message: “Together as One” – Rev. Jim Gill

171 years. Wow, it was even before Canadian Confederation. Walton was formed before whatever device was created that made it possible for you to watch, listen to, or read this service today. Happy anniversary Walton Church!

And the church’s founding isn’t the only anniversary we celebrate today. This past January, Val celebrated 25 years at Walton. She’s held three different staff positions over that time, beginning as our first paid youth leader at 5.9 hours a week and eventually transitioning into her now full-time Family Ministries position.

Linda celebrates 40 years as Walton’s half-time Music Director this coming September, a role which she began as a short-term, temporary fill-in position when the regular organist quit suddenly.

I decided to hold a virtual celebration today of both Linda and Val’s ministries on this Walton’s 171st Anniversary Sunday. Thanks to Covid, we were closed this past January for Val’s 25th and with the way it’s going we might be into the 4th or 5th wave by the day of Linda’s 40th anniversary. There’s no time like the present to celebrate some happy occasions.

The title of my message today is borrowed from the anthem Linda wrote in celebration of Walton’s 170th anniversary, which we had planned to mark in person last year on Anniversary Sunday. It was to be one of those huge homecoming gatherings which we hold on the first Sunday of May, every 5 years. The name of the anthem is “Together as One,” and its uplifting words talk about “praising, serving, sharing, building, learning, growing, and looking forward, together as one.”

The anthem captures musically so well what I believe Walton is as a family of faith. It also captures our Bible reading where Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” There is that “togetherness” with ourselves and God. This is a blessing to all of us in so many ways.
While out videoing a service recently in the woods, I got myself all caught up in grape branches and vines, so much so that I almost became part of them. The togetherness of being wrapped in those branches and vines describes Walton. Our church has a unique togetherness for the size of its congregation. There is a one-ness that is such a blessing. It doesn’t mean people do not disagree, for of course they do. But the vision of one-ness brings us together over time and becomes our culture with Christ being the vine. Like all the different people from the congregation who worked together to create today’s shared video, “The Song of Faith” sharing a modern expression of belief in God.

One of Walton’s many strengths is the togetherness and continuity of our long-term, stable, productive, and healthy lay ministers, staff members, and the many volunteers who have been involved with various missions and ministries for decades.

We’ve had several staff recently retire: Carolann after 35 years, Ian almost 25 years, Peter after 13 years and Susan after 5 years. And we are blessed to have our current team: Cathy with 23 years of service, Wendy and Craig 9 years, Stu 7 years, Alison 5 years and Jillian 3 years, along with our two regular preachers and worship leaders Karen and Gill.

Today we are marking Linda’s 40 year this year and Val’s 25 years. Myself? Well, our current Prime Minister Trudeau’s father was the Prime Minister when I first came to Walton. Having leaders with so many years of service is very rare today in church life and it is truly a blessing.
And then of course we recognize those members of the church council, committee chairs and members, choir members, youth leaders, UCW members, Sunday School teachers, and many more who – together as one – have done and continue to do great things over the long term. There is much to be celebrated on this 171st anniversary.

So many congregations in Halton Region that are struggling, or have closed or amalgamated, have endured a continuous churning over of their leadership, both lay and staff. Church life is ultimately not about policies, procedures, academic studies, theological points of view or stances on social issues. Church life is about relationships. It is about people and people’s lives. It is about the connections, friendships, and sense of being a family, together as one. As the song says, “praising, serving, sharing, building, learning, growing and looking forward, together as one.”

Linda has many talents, such as composing music, directing choirs, writing music lyrics, adjudicating festivals, singing (especially so much over the last 14 months!), editing music books, networking with others in the music world, fundraising for the music and other church programs, and accompanying others.

Her talents also include teaching piano, coaching voice students, creating and competing in festivals, acting – even in movies – producing our choir concerts, helping brides get down the aisle, worship planning, and leadership each week just to name a few. Linda has blessed Walton with these talents for 4 decades leading to our vibrant Youth and Chancel Choirs.
One of Linda’s strengths lies in her constantly inviting, recruiting, and encouraging people to join one of Walton’s choirs, and hence into being part of the congregation. A great choir is one that sings “Together as One” under the director’s leadership. How many of you today are watching this service because of Linda bringing you into the Walton family of faith in some way or another?

Val has many talents as well, such as being the producer of our weekly worship – whether it is live with a paper bulletin or in these virtual services. Val’s passion for kids, teens and seniors shines forth. She has created or envisioned many of the family-friendly practices, traditions, celebrations and community-building events here at Walton.

Val is a counsellor, worship leader, writer of prayers, cheerleader, deliverer of gifts of flowers and treats, head angel of the Friday Morning Angels, handy-person and spit-and-polisher of the building. She assisted in the training of 8 ministry interns, is the coordinating assistant at weddings, funerals, and baptisms, a friend and mentor to the staff under her Family Ministries umbrella, and the one to always step in to fill any gap that needs filling. She does things behind the scenes, from leading 10 youth confirmation classes for 115 teens confirmed, to writing job references for the many teens from her youth groups many who are now adults.
One of Val’s strengths is inviting people into and back into the Walton family of faith.

Throughout the day and so many evenings a week, she uses every technology available along with face-to-face contact to keep in touch with those connected to our church. She has done this pre-Covid, during Covid, and will continue to do so post-Covid.

Val, in her humble way, never gives up on people. She is always there for the underdog, those on the sidelines, those hurting and needing a listening heart, the outsider, the grieving, the sick and disheartened. How many of you today watching this service have been personally touched by one of her ministries which bring us together as one?

We celebrate and give thanks for these 2 people who have spent a significant portion of their adult lives serving Walton and bringing us all together as one. It has been a personal blessing working with both of them, one which I pray will continue for a long time yet to come.
Jesus reminds us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.” You and I in this family of faith are called to bear fruit. “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” Because of Covid we have done so much every day in our pivot to bear fruit together as one, even if we are together as one on separate screens in separate places.

One of the things that brings Walton together is the fact we are a large United Church congregation compared to most, gathering in a Sanctuary that brings us closer together by its smaller size. Our church doesn’t seat 300 or 400 people like some neighbouring congregations and we, therefore, don’t feel like we’re in an empty barn-like some churches. We feel like we are in a cozy, warm living room filled with family and friends.

Legally we could have seated 38 people maximum with the pre-lockdown Covid requirements. Now we are permitted only 9 people plus me. We have not reopened since the pandemic began, most of all for health and safety reasons as the well-being of our church family is our number one priority. But we also felt strongly that the 38 person limit would not bring us together again as “one” in the sense we all so miss. So we continue to worship together as a virtual church for the time being. Let us celebrate Walton and Linda and Val on this 171st anniversary of our church.

Pastoral Prayer

Gracious God, we lift to you this morning all those worshipping with us today. We lift them to you for the security of health, safety, love and support, or knowing you are there. For those feeling isolated, fearful and worried, help guide their thoughts and fears to prayer and knowing you are there listening to their every word and will help others to reach out, and console and help.

Be with those, Lord, who are concerned about their finances, their debt, their lack of jobs, or job security, help them to seek help in dealing with these issues, and ways to calm those worries. For those struggling with addictions, looking for ways to run away from the struggles we are faced with these days, Lord. Shine your light of hope and faith that better days will come.

Faithful God, there is not a problem we can bring up or ask about that you have not already placed your healing, guiding hand into the mix. Thank you for the people who you have worked through to bring relief, help, hope and light into each situation we might cope better each day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

God has gifted our community of faith with the joy of sharing worship virtually through this time of Covid. “For where two or three gather in his name, there am I with them.” How blessed are we to be gathered together today. Let us share our blessings with the giving of our offering.

♥ by secure online payment from your bank or credit card. Click here to go to our donation page to make a single or recurring donation. Multiple funds (including Sleeping Children) can be included in one donation by using the “Add Donation” button.
♥ by cheque through the mail slot at the Church office entrance or by Canada Post.
♥ by monthly PAR payments. To sign up contact stuart@waltonmemorial.com.

Offering Prayer

Thank you gracious God for the ability to help one another, for being able to give, to give of our time, our talent and our treasure. To walk alongside someone who is in need today. May this gift we give in this offering time be a gift of hope, relief, positivity into someone’s day, and plant the seed of God’s unconditional love and light in this world. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Song: “How Can I Keep from Singing”

 

Benediction

For 171 years this congregation has been blessed. And the building that preceded this one, and this building and the congregation that lives in the Bronte area and the many communities that we serve. Today we celebrate that blessing, and we ask for God’s blessing on us, on this Anniversary Sunday.

As we leave this time of worship together as the family of God, know that God remembers you. God gathers you in and holds you tight. God loves you. God sends you out into the world to spread the Good News, the same good news our ancestors shared with others 171 years ago, by word and by example.

May the blessing of God, the creator, Christ and comforter, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen.

Photomontage celebrating Linda and Val


Walton’s Musical Message

This morning on Facebook and on YouTube, we’re sharing a video where Linda shares with us several of our favourite hymns! Sing along!

♬ Working Together (which Linda wrote for Walton Stewardship about 20 years ago)
♬ You are My All In All (Celebration Hymnal 583)
♬ Speak O Lord (LUYH 755)
♬ Here I am Lord (VU 509)
♬ Olde Irish Blessing (written for Walton choir in 1996)

 


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, April 28th