Pastoral Prayer Sunday June 19: Orlando, LGBTQ, Church, Father’s Day

God of grace in you we have everything.  Everything that makes us breathe, that makes us live, that makes us love, that makes us want, that makes us desire, that makes us musical, that makes us full, that makes us thrive in human relationship and community.  And so we offer you these gifts in that knowledge, as the one from whom and in whom we have all  and are sustained in everything.  Receive our gifts as an act of sacrifice and love, and use them we pray to bless others within these walls and without; within this city and without;  within this country and without.  For the money we give that goes to Presbyterian Sharing Presbyterian Sharing to Presbyterian World Service and Development and from there to page the wage of program directors or pastors or educators in Africa, Eastern Europe or Asia, or the money that goes to the Acts Alliance and continues to help rebuild Haiti, or the money that goes to ministries for the First Peoples of Canada to grow and strengthen leadership and faith

— for all these uses and more, we ask O God that you may multiply, bless and change lives through the weekly and monthly sacrifice of the giving we offer to you.

This week O God, we pray for the people of Orlando, our society and ourselves.  For those who mourn, please bless and uphold them.  For those who were injured and for those connected to the injurer, we ask your mercy and healing.  For a combination of history, policy, ideology, fear, aggression, illness and fighting that has led to a society where citizens can buy and own incredibly powerful machine guns, we pray for a sea change of mindset and peacefulness.  And Lord, we also pray for the hate spread against people that call themselves Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer.  And Lord, we confess that the Christian church and our society, in the history time and in our time, have not spread a message of positive human value, unconditional of all other things.  We remember with sadness the late, great Sir Alan Turing, persecuted and treated very badly by a state precisely because of sexuality.  We remember also countries around the world where people can be put in prison or even put to death.

And Lord, we confess that in the church, there has been and there is fear in the area of sexuality.  That there has been hate on a personal level, even though we know your Son, our Lord, died on the cross once for all and every person.  And so Lord, challenge us, shape us, draw us and all people deeper into the life of Jesus Christ, where we ourselves are fully loved, fully known and fully blessed.  And may that blessing override violence and hate in our hearts, in our cities, in our world, and redeem and transform every broken part, starting with us today.

Lord above, hear us as we pray for the Canada Youth 2016 conference in July.  Guide and bless those who organize and the youth from Central who are going to join 500 other young Christian Presbyterians from across Canada.  May lives be built up in the faith of Jesus Christ and relationships of helpfulness and mutuality begin there and grow and last long.

We also pray for our new Director of Discipleship,  Melissa Kuipers, who will focus especially on children, youth and young families, and support the deepening of our Christian faith in this church.

And today we thank you, O God, for our fathers, and for all those men who have been examples to us of character, strength in life and faith.  We thank you for the good words spoken, for the eyes our of hopefulness with which our fathers have seen us, for the resources physical and emotional that they pour into their children, and grandchildren, for their hard work, for their commitment, for their dedication, for not giving up on families or their children when times were the hardest.  And for those O God, who have or have had strained relationships with parents or loved ones, and where grudges and injuries remain unhealed, we ask, O God, for a miracle of renewing, sustaining and resurrection in Jesus Christ in those places and people, and in us.  Grant, O God, that we may walk in the good example of those fathers and men who have lead us, and in the footsteps of Jesus, our truest friend and brother, who teaches us to pray together saying:

Erskine Notes 1.0

Dear Congregation of Erskine

Last night your minister, the Rev. Dr. Ian McPhee preached at the Presbytery of Hamilton meeting hosted at your church – his last stated meeting before his retirement, 31 August 2016.  24 years ministering God’s grace at Erskine!  Congratulations Ian and best wishes for your retirement.

It is was my pleasure also to be appointed as your Interim Moderator.  This means that I will Moderate your Session meetings, as your Session leads this congregation to where it discerns the Spirit is leading.

I am delighted to announce that Mr. Matthew Lingard will be responsible for preaching and leading worship at Erskine all the Sundays from September-December 2016.  Your minister-in-association The Rev. Willard Pottinger will lead in Holy Communion when celebrated, and Matthew Lingard will officiate and preach those services.

Matthew will also be available to the congregation of Erskine for some pastoral care through the week with coordination through your Shepherding committee, and perform funerals, with my supervision.

Of course, anyone is welcome to reach me directly through Central Presbyterian Church, contact details at or call 905 522 9098.

I will be preaching at Erskine on September 25th, 2016, and I truly hope to meet all of you then.  Please would you remember each morning in this time of vacancy, between ministers and ministries, to offer this prayer or one like it

Lord in your mercy guide Erskine

by your Spirit

into your good will.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

I hope to post these Notes (2.0, 3.0 etc.) as the year goes on as a way of keeping touch with all of you.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


The Rev. Dr. J. Gregory Davidson, B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Div., Ph.D.








Using Underused Space for Mission

I want to thank the Synod of SouthWestern Ontario for a recent $5,000 seed money grant to Central Presbyterian Church.  Central has put together a group to work on how God may be calling us to be a blessing in our local neighbourhood through some of our underused space.  That group is now formed and will begin work very soon.

I include here below some of thinking behind this direction, which was used in our Synod application and has been adopted as a starting point by the Session of Central.




Over the last 10 years, Central Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, has renovated its large building extensively. The church is located in the heart of the Durand Neighbourhood, just south of downtown, with approximately 3,000 square feet of prime space that is unused during most of the week.

Over the last 6 months, Central has begun discussions on Christian hospitality and how God may be calling us to use this space to bless the local neighbourhood.

At an open meeting on January 20th, 2016, three main needs were assessed: children and youth; community gathering space; and community services.

  1. Children and youth: the need for affordable (not for profit) daycare and/or pre-school space in the neighbourhood. This is the church’s first priority. Currently, many families in the area are driving up the mountain to find affordable day care. The demand for affordable child care is great. A Presbyterian-run daycare or pre-school would therfore concretely help families of varying incomes near the church. There is ample space for this ministry on the top floor of the Sunday School wing.
  2. A gathering space: for the socially and economically diverse Durand neighbourhood: The church is located only two blocks from an area that houses the highest density of Ontario Works recipients in the province. In contrast, four blocks from the church are houses listed for $1+ million dollars. We believe offering Christian hospitality in the form of a gathering space for the community will lead to relationships where people from various walks of life are transformed by being together. This gathering space would take the form of a cafe in the church, which would train and employ the underemployed, and would be based on the model of a similar cafe in an Anglican Church Hall in Port Colborne, Ontario. We have the space for such a cafe on the main floor of the Sunday School wing.
  3. Community services: needs in the neighbourhood for a health clinic, tutoring, the Central Presbyterian Church School of Music (professional musicians here might offer lessons to children who cannot afford them), Alcoholics Anonymous, and other needs. These would be on the bottom floor of the Sunday wing.



  • All three ministries would be not-for-profit, overtly Christian and run by the church (not outsourced).
  • The steering committee would need to bring each stage of progress to Session, until the eventual implementation of each phase.
  • The daycare/preschool is the ministry’s first priority. Planning for the cafe and community services would begin once the anchor ministry to children is up and running.
  • Once up and running the preschool/daycare might fund a 2 hour/day director of outreach to build and grow the other ministries in the building.

Rationale for Preschool/Daycare in Durand

Why should Central serve the community with an affordable daycare?

-There are two types of daycares in Ontario: licensed centres and unlicensed home daycares. Licensed daycares are monitored by the province, follow strict rules and are subject to annual inspections. Unlicensed daycares are not monitored, inspected, or governed by provincial standards. While many unlicensed daycares are reputable, there have been instances of neglect or injury in unlicensed daycares that are overcrowded, dirty, and unsafe.

-Provincewide, there are only enough licensed daycare spots for 20 per cent of children in need of care.

-There is a drastic shortage of licensed daycare spots in Ontario. In Hamilton, there are only about 240 licensed daycare spots available for all babies up to 18 months. Roughly 11,000 spots are available for children between 18 months to 12 years old (including daycare and before/after school care).

-Often, parents choose unlicensed daycares simply because they cannot find space in licensed centres – or because licensed daycares are too expensive. Depending on the age of the child, parents pay anywhere from $40-$100+ per day (higher than the cost of university tuition).

-There are no licensed daycare facilities in the Durand neighbourhood and very few centres in the lower city.

-Studies have shown that when parents have access to affordable daycare, welfare claims drop as more parents head back to work instead of being forced to stay home due to unaffordable/unavailable childcare.

-The newly elected Liberals promised to revamp the Federal child benefit during the 2015 election. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made no mention of an affordable daycare strategy in the recent throne speech, both the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development have been tasked with developing a national child care framework.

Sources: The Hamilton Spectator, “The struggle for decent daycare,” pub. July 27, 2013

The Globe and Mail, “Parents, start saving now,” pub. Dec.9, 2015

The Globe and Mail, “The case for publicly funded child care in Canada” pub. Oct. 20, 2013

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (