Reformation Day

Reformation Day – The 31st of October 2017 is a significant date in the history of the church.  It is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his so-called “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517 — an event that sparked a 131-year period of debate, conflict, and reform known as the Reformation.  The 95 Theses were in fact an invitation to a debate that was going to be held on the church’s theology and practices concerning the forgiveness of sin, and they stated Luther’s own understanding of the issue, in contrast to the official teaching of the church.  Thesis #1, for example, states, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ [Matthew 4.17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance”.

What began as a debate about one issue gradually escalated into a widespread movement of protest and reform.  The reform movement was largely resisted by the leaders of the church, however; and, unfortunately, the leaders of the movement were unable to come to agreement with each other in order to present a unified opposition to the church’s leadership.  The result of the Reformation, then, was not a reformed church, as Luther and others had hoped for, but a fragmented church, whose leaders and members argued with and fought against each other.  Luther himself died in 1546, but the Reformation continued on until the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648.  By then, the various kingdoms, duchies, and principalities of Europe had each chosen one or other branch of the church to be the legitimate church in their own territory, making Europe look like a religious patchwork quilt.  For example, northern Germany and Scandinavia were predominantly Lutheran; Scotland, the northern Netherlands, and parts of Switzerland and Hungary were predominantly Reformed; France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Poland, and southern Germany were predominantly Roman Catholic; and England was predominantly Anglican.

As colonists from various European countries settled in North and South America and other parts of the world, they brought their religious backgrounds with them, and established churches of various denominations in their new homelands.  In the past century, the various branches of the church have become more tolerant of each other, recognizing each other as legitimate Christian churches, even if they don’t completely agree with each other’s doctrine (official teaching).

Honor Sunday

Honor Gifts – October 22, 2017 is our second annual Honor Sunday.  On this Sunday last year, we introduced a new category of gift that could be given to the Endowment Fund: the Honor Gift.  An Honor Gift is given in honor, recognition, or celebration of a person (living), event, or occasion.  In the past year, Honor Gifts totaling $375.00 were given to the Endowment Fund.  Two were given anonymously, one was given by Garry and Marg Clark in honor of their daughters, and one was given by John Zondag in celebration of his mother’s 95th birthday.  We thank these donors for their gifts!  Honor Gifts can be made at any time, using either your regular offering envelope or a plain envelope.  Make sure to indicate on the envelope that your donation is an Honor Gift, and, if you wish, enclose a note indicating whom or what occasion your gift is in honor of.  Cheques should be made payable to “First Presbyterian Church”.  Amounts given as Honor Gifts will be included in your official year-end receipt for your offerings.  Honor Gifts can be given anonymously, if you wish.

Mission Moment

World Food Day (October 16)

Today, 800 million people worldwide go to bed with an empty stomach. The majority of the world’s hungry people are subsistence farmers. These farmers struggle to cultivate plentiful harvests in the midst of a changing climate, which brings unpredictable and extreme weather events that devastate crops. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s Climate Fund is a way for Canadians to respond to families impacted by climate change. This year, donations to the Climate Fund will support PWS&D’s agro-ecological and food security project in Guatemala. The project has been transformative for Catalina, a farmer who received support to adapt to climate change, grow more vegetables and improve her family’s nutrition. “I am grateful that we can see another way to live a healthy life,” she says.

PWS&D helps small-scale farmers adapt to climate change


Thanksgiving – Harvest festivals have been celebrated around the world for as long as people have been practising agriculture.  Thanksgiving, our own Canadian version of the annual harvest festival, is essentially an import from the United States, having been brought to British North America by Loyalists during and after the American Revolution.  Thanksgiving Day became an official annual observance in Canada in 1879, twelve years after Confederation, although the date and focus of the occasion varied over the next several decades.  From 1921 to 1930, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the same day as Armistice Day (commemorating the end of World War 1), on the Monday in the week of the 11th of November.  In 1931, the two observances were separated, Armistice Day being renamed Remembrance Day, and Thanksgiving typically (although not always) being celebrated on the second Monday of October.  Finally, in 1957, the date of Thanksgiving was fixed on the second Monday of October, and the purpose of the day was proclaimed by Parliament as being “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”.