James Bay United Church
Our Impact Why We Exist
We’re the other House of All Sorts in James Bay! We’re old and young, and some in between. We’re queer. We’re straight. We’re black. We’re white. We’re tender hearted, we’re crotchety, we’re timid, we’re bold. Some of us are control freaks, and some of us are easy with uncertainty. Some of us have been part of church (Catholic, Pentecostal, Anglican, United) all our life and some of us are testing the waters for the very first time. Some of us credit the church for getting us through the worst of times, and some of have been so hurt by the church we can hardly believe we’re back. Some of us have been pulled right out of death’s grip and are higher on gratitude than anything we ever put in our arm. And some of us have been waiting all our lives for a sign.
We’re definitely no one thing… not anyone of us. And we aren’t perfect. On our best days, we know that’s not even the goal. It’s better we discover ourselves perfectly loved, whatever our story. Then we’ve got something worth sharing. On a good day we know it’s Jesus who’s the glue that holds us together, and moves us beyond where we’ve been. On a good day, we remember that his commandment, “love one another as I have loved you” is the heart of what we are about. On a good day, we trust like fools his promise to be with us through thick and thin. And his promise to go ahead of us, showing up in ways and places we don’t expect to find him. On a good day, we know there’s wisdom in the Benedictine practice of “welcoming all as Christ.” And we’re working on it!
Our Story What We Do
James Bay United Church (originally a Methodist Sunday School) has been a spiritual home for people in the neighbourhood and beyond for 120 years. In that time the vitality of the congregation has ebbed and flowed. There was a great surge of life in the late 1960s to mid 70s. It was a time of extra-ordinary contribution to the well-being of the neighbourhood. And it arose at a time when the church was on the verge of closing! The minister at the time, Ken Wood, shared a particular passion for connecting with the surrounding community. An Action Committee was formed to listen to the people in the neighbourhood and discover their pressing needs and desires. From there the story goes on to describe the birth, in remarkable short order, of the James Bay Community Association, the James Bay New Horizons, the James Bay Community Project and Wellness Centre, the James Bay monthly newspaper… all developed through the work of the Action Committee in conjunction with partners in the neighbourhood.
When asked where did all the energy come from, to make so much happen in such a short time? Marian Wood, one of the movers and shakers of the congregation said, “I’ve been asked many times to try and explain how it happened. I can say first that it takes a lot of love and caring. In our instance this comes from our love of God as we know him in Jesus Christ. Secondly, one must be ready to listen and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit as one hears and recognizes it in others… All I can say is that we were caught up in a movement that simply flowed and there was no stopping it.”
The story keeps rolling out… with the birth of Beckley Farm Lodge, the Association for Street Kids, and the James Bay United Church Thrift Shop.
While this period in our history stands out for the visible marks it has made in the neighbourhood, all along there has been a core of people who have “tended the fire,” doing their part in sustaining a gathering place for people to deepen their life with God and grow in their care for the world.
Our Programs How We Do It
Please visit our website to learn about our worship and other services.
What You Can Do
There are many ways you can get involved. Please visit our website to learn how.