Read along service for Sunday, June 7

Order of Service

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church and Bethel-St. Andrew’s United Church

June 7 , 2020

Worship Leaders: Rev. James Murray, Rev. Dr. Christine Johnson, Mike McCormick

Guest soloist: Leanne MacDonald


Welcome and Introductions

Call to Worship

Today is called Union Sunday. On June 10, 1925, a new denomination was born.  It was called the United Church of Canada. That’s 95 years ago.  As we approach our 100th anniversary in 2025, it’s good for us to reflect on that history. And embedded in our history are real struggles of inclusion and reckonings with outdated ideas.  The church universal has always reckoned with changing viewpoints and understandings of scripture. And in that struggle, there has been real pain, real sufferingon the way to glimmers of redemption and reconciliation. Today, we remember and celebrate this history but we also share with you some of the struggle that one man endured on his path of being an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. That man’s name is Wilbur Howard.

Wilbur Howard became the Reverend Wilbur Howard in 1942.  In 1974, he became the Right Reverend Wilbur Howard when he was elected Moderator. After he finished his time as Moderator, he became the Very Reverend. Yes, Wilbur Howard had all the grand titles but the one thing you might not know about him is he was a black man.And he endured racism at a level that surprises us today.

Over the last few weeks, we have been drawn into a firestorm of racist acts that blew a fuse on centuries, millennia, of oppression against people of colour. This is a difficult subject for white people who have always known privilege in an often unconscious way. Perhaps understanding and reconciliation begins by being willing to hear some painful truths on our way to fostering peace and equality.

I pray this service will be a time of listening and learning and being open to the Pentecost spirit that calls us to love our neighbours as ourself.   


Prayer of Approach

God of every beautiful child,  God of every beautiful creature,  God of everything in the whole wide world, help us to understand the power of love to include all in the circle of life. God of humans with different skin colours, God of primates, God of diversity and novelty, help us to heal our self-centredness and fear of the other. God of religious movements, God of philosophy, God of political ideologies, help us to turn away from inflicting suffering and turn towards healing. God of the United Church of Canada, God of the black peoples of this country, God of the indigenous first peoples, help us to say we are sorry and to seek, in humility, reconciliation. God of the now, God of the past, God of the future, help me.Walk beside each one of us pushing and prodding us into a better world.  Amen. 


Hymn  The Hymnary – 1930 – Love Divine

The Hymnary of 1930 is the first official United Church of Canada hymnbook.  It was created to unify the three founding denominations in an exercise of bringing together our various strands of music.

Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down,

Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesu, thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love thou art;

Visit us with thy salvation,Enter every trembling heart.


Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit Into every troubled breast,

Let us all in thee inherit, Let us find that second rest.

Take away the love of sinning, Alpha and Omega be;

End of faith, as its beginning,Sets our hearts at liberty.


Come almighty to deliver, Let us all thy life receive;

Suddenly return and never, Never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing, Serve thee as thy hosts above,

Pray, and praise thee without ceasing, Glory in thy perfect love.


Finish then thy new creation, Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see thy great salvation, Perfectly restored in thee;

Changed from glory into glory, Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before thee, Lost in wonder, love and Praise.


Scripture Matthew 28: 16-20

Hymn The Hymn Book – 1971 – #351 – O Perfect Love

The Hymn Book or the “red” book as it’s often called, was published as a joint project between the UCC and the Anglican Church of Canada.  Hopes were high there would be another union between these two churches but it was not to be.  It was published in 1971.


O perfect Love, all human thought transcending, Lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,

That theirs may be the love which knows no ending, Whom thou forevermore dost join in one.


O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance, Of tender charity and steadfast faith,

Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance, With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.


Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow; Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,

And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow That dawns upon eternal love and life.


Sermon “In the Beginning”

Solo “Heal the World”  (Michael Jackson) Leanne MacDonald

Pastoral Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Voices United – 1996 – #282 – Long before the night (This Ancient Love)

Voices United is the third official hymn book of our denomination, published in 1996.  It was designed to honour tradition while at the same time highlighting contemporary composers and hymn writers.  This song is by Carolyn Dade, written in 1988.


Long before the night was born from darkness Long before the dawn rolled unsteady from fire

Long before she wrapped her scarlet arms around the hills

there was a love, this ancient love was born.


Long before the grass spotted green the bare hillside Long before a wing unfolded to wind

Long before she wrapped her long blue arm around the sea

there was a love, this ancient love was born.


Long before a chain was forged from the hillside Long before a voice uttered freedom’s cry

Long before she wrapped her bleeding arms around a child

there was a love, this ancient love was born.


Long before the name of a God was spoken Long before a cross was nailed from a tree

Long before she laid her arm of colors ‘cross the sky there was a love,

this ancient love was born. 


Wakeful are our nights,  and slumbers our morning

Stubborn is the grass sowing green wounded hills

As we wrap our healing arms to hold what her arms held

this ancient love, this aching love rolls on

© 1996 Carolyn McDade



For 95 years we’ve struggled to find our one voice as the United Church of Canada. In 2020, we know there are many many voices in our denomination that need to be heard.  On this anniversary, may we hear the cries of justice that began “in the beginning” of creation and continue to this moment. We honour the name of the Very Reverend Wilbur Howard and all black peoples around the world that simply want to be free. This is our commitment, our trust and our hope. May it be so.