Monday, November 29, 2010


Time to start blogging again.
A wonderful summer. Lots of good things took place and a some sad things too.
A 90th birthday celebration for Aunt Arley
Michael breaks his clavicle (typical boy stuff!)
Beth & I celebrated our 50th anniversary with many friends and relatives
Kevin & Kate came from BC
We went to Evita in Stratford with Mike & Carole – their anniversary gift to us
The Dirt Squirrels (Jason King’s band) performed at the bandshell
Attended the Dean family picnic in Orono
Saw The Music Man in Port Hope
Joan & Susan visited bearing gifts of steak and wine
Ate ourselves silly at the Rib Fest
The annual ritual of pumpkin surgery took place
Saw The Piano Men at the Regent
Saw Cirque Du Soleil at the GM Center
Various Birthday celebrations including my 71st (yikes!), and Bill’s 40th.
And throughout all this there was some gardening, lots of swimming, and generally savoring life!
We also mourn some friends – Rick Beecham, Ray Van Slageren, Cathy McKee. I have already written about Rick in this blog. Ray and Jane Van Slageren were neighbours from Whitby that remained friends. Cathy is Rick's (Beths cousin) wife, and mother of Jeremy and Jaimie. A terrible loss to all who knew her.


Our church is closing!
January 9, 2011 will be the last service. It has been a long and difficult road that led us to this final destination.
In 2006, I took part in the anniversary Sunday service, and the following is an abridged version of my comments. I hope it serves as a tribute.


Having been virtually raised in a church, I decided as a young adult I had enough religion to last me a lifetime so I stopped going.
Beth and I were married in 1960, and our first child was born in ‘62 with 3 more to follow. I felt guilty that the children were going to church with their mother only, so I started to go again. That was at St Marks in Whitby.
I kept going because I had found something worthwhile!
When we moved to Oshawa, Harmony church seemed the logical choice as it was near. I didn’t like the church sanctuary very much. After the almost Gothic style of St. Marks, I found Harmony to be more like Ikea!
Over the years, I came to appreciate the light filled sanctuary, the simplicity of the furnishings, even the hard pews, and in recent years the installation of the stained glass has added a warm glow.
So what does Harmony United Church – this congregation - mean to me? Let me try to explain.
A church is by definition religious, so religion and worship is the obvious central focus. However, we are not talking about A church – we are talking about THIS church, THIS congregation.
In my mind I find it difficult to separate “building” and “congregation”.
This building is the vault that contains so many of my most precious memories, and I think that is true for many of you also. Those memories are of people and events.
When I am occasionally here by myself, and the church is silent, or often during the silent prayers, my mind wanders.
I remember faces and events and voices.
I see our daughter as a young child talking to Hartley Morrison after the service and getting one of the candies he always carried for the children. I see that same daughter being confirmed, and later taking her marriage vows, radiant in her bridal gown. I see her 4 children being baptized. And then I see her children talking to Harley Morrison, and getting one of his candies
I see the procession of Ministers over the years, and my mind smiles for a moment at Vic Sangwine, a gentle and loving man. I see him now as I did the first time we met – at the mens breakfast club when he rode across the hall floor on his old bicycle, ice skates and curling broom hanging from the handlebars.
I see Jean Sangwine flying the Star of the East from way up there for one of our Christmas pageants.
I see busy Church dinners and glorious Easter Mornings -and desperately dark Good Fridays. I see Scouts and Guides parades, led for years by Don Thompson. I see Cabaret nights, painting and fixing parties – weddings, baptisms, confirmations, funerals.
When I look at our choir now, I imagine I see the faces and hear the voices from past choir members along with them.
I see the faces of those who have moved away – people like Paul and Cathy Wright, Verna McLellan, Don and Jean Chilcott, and more recently Judy Beaton and Audrey Bristol.
Judy always cried when we sang certain hymns she loved. I would look at her and her face would be streaming with tears – and red with embarrassment at being unable to prevent those tears!
Other faces of Harmony pioneers and church stalwarts parade through my mind – some no longer living, some not able to attend for various reasons. These are the ones that come to my mind, and I am sure you will add your own memories.
Jean Hoskin
Helen Twining
Gladys Drakes – and I think of a smoky kitchen as she tried to teach us how to cook sausages and eggs for the mens breakfast club.
The Cashells and the Morrisons
Doris St.Louis -A beautiful lady who was my special partner when we did the exercise in practical Christianity many years ago
Shirley Flett
Ruby Fleury
Mae Ridgley
Warren Smith
Donna Kingdon
Bob Gowans
Murray Craig
The Harrises
Ken Fletcher
and so many others.
I see here today the faces of those that have been loyal members and workers, and without whom the church could not have continued to exist.
I also look at you here this morning, and for many I remember the young families you used to be, your children (and ours) wriggling and squirming and pestering each other – now grown, and some in their middle years.
And I see friends!
This congregation is my extended family!
So, for me, Harmony church is a holy place. Not because it was consecrated by clerics in a long ago ceremony, but because it has been hallowed by the lives of its people, and made sacred by the ceremonies that have marked the passages of our little lives. The way we mark all the truly important occasions –with celebrations and ceremonies and rituals.
My wish or prayer for Harmony?
That this building be again filled with young families-
-Families that will find in it a place to take a rest from the pressure of just getting by in today’s hectic world -
-Families that will grow and change and evolve within it -
-Families that will find lasting friendships here, and who will become part of our church family -
-Families that will eventually say that, for them, Harmony Church is a holy place, rich with memories, and warmed by friendships.

(Since 2006 we have lost other faithful members and good friends)

NOTE: A part of Harmony United Church will live on!
A foundation has been started with some of the funds from the sale of the property. This legacy of the pioneers and stalwarts of Harmony United Church will continue their vision of outreach in our community