June 28, 2020

Morewood Anniversary: A Sacred Mission 

Passage: John 21:1-17;

4th Sunday after Pentecost

June 28, 2020

All music used is under CCLI license: 1963748


Welcome to this virtual Anniversary service for Morewood Presbyterian Church.  This is a significant celebration as it marks the 150th anniversary of the congregation receiving official recognition. Of course, as with most congregations, the actual beginning happened years before.


The story of the Morewood congregation began in the 1840s with the opening of the area for farming.  The Presbyterian families who had emigrated from Ireland and Scotland gathered for worship in several locations before building the church that you see today. The locations included a barn on the farm of James Kyle, the log school at Cannamore, the large, open room on the second floor of the old Smirle home and a hall known as the “Ark”, near the Kyle road and east of the present church.


Finally, the decision was made to construct a permanent home for the growing congregation. That happened in 1870 which is the date we see above the front door of the church.  The congregation was part of a joint pastoral charge with Winchester under the church body known as the Canada Presbyterian Church – CPC for short. Most of the congregations in this area belonged to this group before joining to form the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1875.  


The building itself remains basically unchanged from the time it was first erected.  Built under the supervision of James Kyle, the 1 and a half acres that it sits on was purchased from James Fraser for the cost of 5 shillings which is less than $1 in today’s money. The stone was secured from a farm east of the church. The walls are so thick that it added extra labour when the electricity and central heating were introduced in the 1940s and 1950s.

The church was built to last and it has served the congregation well. Before we enter the building, I want you to imagine coming here for the first time back in the 1870s. To both sides of the present church would be horse sheds with a fence surrounding the buildings with an entrance off to the east for access. Today there is a Christian Education hall to the west and a furnace room to the east that used to serve as the woodshed for the pot belly stoves that once heated the sanctuary.


In a few moments we will enter the sanctuary but before we do, I invite you to notice the fish that is at the peak of the roof of the church.  What would a fish be doing on a building so far from the ocean?  It is a reminder to all who gather here that the same Jesus who fed the disciples fish on the beach after his resurrection is the same Jesus who invites us to be filled today with the spiritual food that comes from the Word of God. It also reminds us that we – like those first disciples – have been called to become fishers of people, to invite others to come and share the gifts of God so generously given to all.  I invite you to come in and commune with us in this sacred space.


Let us worship God.


One: The church lives to praise God.

All: We have no higher calling than to offer God our lives in worship day to day, Sunday by Sunday, now and always.


Choral Introit:

Glory be to God the Father, Glory be to God the Son,

Glory be to God the Spirit, Great Jehovah, Three in One!

Glory, glory, glory, glory, while eternal ages run!



Hymn:  Be Thou my vision #461

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me save that thou art

Thou my best thought in the day and the night

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light


Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word

I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord

Thou my great Father, thine own may I be

Thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.


Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight

Be thou my armor and be thou my might

Thou my soul’s shelter and thou my high tower,

Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.


Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou my inheritance, through all my days

Thou and thou only, the first in my heart

High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.


High King of heaven when the battle is done

Grant heaven’s joy to me, O bright heaven’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall

Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

CCLI: 1963748


Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Lord God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

From north and south, from east and west,

drawn by your majesty we come to worship you,

our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

For the gift of this new day, fresh from your hand, we rejoice.

For the renewal we discover in your friendship in Christ, we praise you.

In the Spirit’s energy, blessing us in each moment, whether joyous or difficult,

we place our hopes.

Lord God, we trust that all of life is your gift

so, give us glimpses of your splendor, glory, and love in this time of worship.

Accept our praise, Lord God, Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit.

Lord of all life and each life,

Forgive us when we forget that life is a gift

and that you are with us in both our struggles and our achievements.

Forgive us when we ignore the value of each person you have created

and for the pain we have caused to others.

Bless those who have been hurt by our actions and by our inaction

with your healing love.

Heal us, too, of the hurts and harm we carry

and forgive us the grudges that weigh us down.

Restore our faith in your goodness

and free us to live with you and with each other in reconciling grace

through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now hear us as we pray together the words you taught us, saying:


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Forever and ever. AMEN

Assurance of Pardon

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Friends, trust that peace and forgiveness are God’s gifts to you this day. Be renewed by the power of the Spirit that moves with you into each new day.


Responsive Psalm – Psalm 150

Praise God in his holy place

Praise him in his mighty heavens

Praise him for his powerful deeds

Praise his surpassing greatness

O praise him with sound of trumpet

Praise him with lute and harp

Praise him with timbrel and dance

Praise him with strings and pipes

O praise him with resounding cymbals

Praise him with clashing of cymbals

Let everything that lives and breathes give praise to the Lord



Prayer for Understanding

Spirit of wisdom be our guide as we listen for God’s Word speaking in the scriptures. When we are puzzled, grant us clarity. When we resist hearing, open our hearts. Guide us to measure our understanding by Christ, God’s Living Word, and Witness. Amen.







John 21:1-17

1 After this, Jesus appeared once more to his disciples at Lake Tiberias. This is how it happened.

2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael (the one from Cana in Galilee), the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples of Jesus were all together.

3 Simon Peter said to the others, "I am going fishing." "We will come with you," they told him. So they went out in a boat, but all that night they did not catch a thing.

4 As the sun was rising, Jesus stood at the water's edge, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5 Then he asked them, "Young men, haven't you caught anything?" "Not a thing," they answered.

6 He said to them, "Throw your net out on the right side of the boat, and you will catch some." So they threw the net out and could not pull it back in, because they had caught so many fish.

7 The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken his clothes off) and jumped into the water.

8 The other disciples came to shore in the boat, pulling the net full of fish. They were not very far from land, about a hundred yards away.

9 When they stepped ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it and some bread.

10 Then Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."

11 Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore full of big fish, a hundred and fifty-three in all; even though there were so many, still the net did not tear.

12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord.

13 So Jesus went over, took the bread, and gave it to them; he did the same with the fish.

14 This, then, was the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from death.

15 After they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?" "Yes, Lord," he answered, "you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Take care of my lambs."

16 A second time Jesus said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," he answered, "you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Take care of my sheep."

17 A third time Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter became sad because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" and so he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!" Jesus said to him, "Take care of my sheep.




HYMN:  I know not why such wondrous grace #683

I know not why such wondrous grace to me God has made known

Nor why, unworthy as I am, Christ claimed me for his own

But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.


I know not why this saving faith to me God did impart

Nor how believing in the word brought peace into my heart

But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.


I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing me of sin

Revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in him

But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.

CCLI license: 1963748


The Message: A Sacred Mission   

I mentioned earlier that this congregation was originally linked with Winchester. In fact, it is well documented that the ministers of the church in Winchester traveled to Morewood to conduct worship and even lead choir practice. The first one to be mentioned was the Rev. Andrew Rowat. After Winchester decided to stand as a single charge, the congregation joined with Crysler and later had associations with Russell, Dunbar and Chesterville – the link with Chesterville being the longest in their history.


As with most new congregations, the building was simple in construction and without a lot of finish and flair.  The intricate wood ceiling that is seen today was not installed until 1904. Its rounded shape toward each side reminding us of one of the earliest locations for the church – the “Ark”. The pews were a later addition as well.  At first simple backless benches were set up to accommodate the people during times of worship.  The padding was an even later but most welcome addition. Before electricity was installed, 2 coal-oil lamps hung on hooks over the centre pews. The smaller hooks over the side pews would have supported the pipes for the two woodstoves.  The building remained relatively unchanged until the introduction of modern lighting and heating in the 1940s and 50s along with the small vestibule at the back of the church in 1952 and the stained-glass windows which were purchased and installed by the Ladies’ Aid in 1955.  No more additions would be made until 1960 when the area behind the sanctuary was built allowing for a choir room, vestry, and nursery. The next addition was the Christian education wing in 1978 and finally a real indoor toilet in 2019.


The wall behind me has undergone some changes over the years. In 1970, the arch behind the pulpit received the columns you see, and a two-dimensional representation of a stain-glass rose window at its centre. When the church was repainted in the 1980s, the window was removed and never installed again.


As a side note, the congregation also owned a church hall in the village. It was originally built by the Canadian Order of Forrestors – a benevolent group. The church purchased it in 1905 and it was the place for church functions and for Sunday School on Sunday afternoons. Andrew Hunter was the one to first organize this. The congregation last used the building in the mid 1970s when it was given over to a local Senior Citizens club that had been formed in 1975.


Over the years the congregation has seen a lot of changes, but two groups continue to be active. The Ladies’ Aid was first formed in the early 1900s. At one time their number was large, and they would hold rummage sales twice a year.  Monthly meetings were held for fellowship, often over quilting – a tradition that was part of the group’s activity until the last few years. Meetings would end with a noon-hour meal.  The WMS was formed in 1890 as the Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society.  In 1911, the group received a new member – Mrs. Gollan. She was the daughter of a missionary to India and the study of foreign missions became an important part of the group’s activities. Today it remains one of the few active groups in the whole of Eastern Ontario. Members come from Morewood, Chesterville, Winchester and Johnstown.


While not matching the numbers of the past, the congregation has faithfully maintained a programme for children with faithful teachers prepared each Sunday to offer a lesson to any children or youth who may attend.


If you get a chance to visit the church in person, take some time to visit the cemetery that surrounds the church on two sides. In it you will find the burial places of some of the people that I have mentioned today.  Some of the plaques that are on the walls of the sanctuary also tell the story of these founders of the congregation. Others record the story of those who came in succeeding generations.


While much has changed over the years and the congregation is smaller than it was at one time, one thing has never changed – the desire of the people to gather for worship and to offer whatever they can to help serve and reach out to the community around them.


Sometimes we want to be greater than we are meant to be. But what is really expected of any one of us is to show our love for our God by caring for those who are part of our faith community and those who are part of the wider community that we live in.


Peter was asked by Jesus: “Do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” said Peter. “Then feed my sheep and take care of my lambs,” said Jesus.  No great building projects and no major programmes – just care for the people.


The sacred mission of this congregation – as it is for any congregation of the people of God – is to care and love, teach and learn, gather to celebrate our life as given to us by God and go out to serve others in whatever way we can.


My prayer is that each of us will remain faithful to that mission – one that was carried from far-off lands to a small village that came to be known as Morewood and one that I pray will continue well into the future.

God bless one and all. AMEN

Special Music:  Claimed by the Blood – Marjorie Vanderveen


Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Lord God of heaven and earth,

with joy and thanksgiving, we praise you

for you create, sustain, and redeem all things.

For making us in your image to love one another and to care for your creation,

we give you thanks.

For the gift of your Son whose life is the pattern for our lives and learning,

we give you thanks.

For the energy of your Spirit to inspire us in times of challenge and change,

we give you thanks.


Strengthen us in these difficult days to show your love to others as we pray for

the church and those who lead it as we adapt to new ways of worshiping and being together…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For creation that we may learn to reverence and care for it…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For those who lead in the nations of the world that they may work for the well-being of the most vulnerable…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For those who serve as teachers, healers, and caregivers in these stressful days when their work is so demanding…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For the poor, the homeless, the hungry and all whose livelihoods have been disrupted during the pandemic…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For those who are ill or struggling in isolation, and for those who mourn the loss of someone dear...

(Silence for 5 seconds)

For the powerless and the oppressed in all places and for those who work to defend them…

(Silence for 5 seconds)

Hear us now as we pray in silence for situations on our hearts this day.

(Silence for 5 seconds)

God eternal, keep us in communion with your people across all times and in all places. May we serve you faithfully, blessing others as we have been blessed by your love. AMEN

Invitation to the Offering

Jesus teaches that even the gift of a simple cup of water is a gift worthy of his disciples. Friends, whatever we can give to God can bless the world in Jesus’ name. Give so that others may taste God’s living water.


Prayer of Dedication

Generous and gracious God, we receive so much from you. What we return to you this day has first come to us from you. By your Spirit, multiply our gifts so that those who are in need may taste your abundance which we know already in Christ, our Living Lord. Amen




HYMN:  Will you come and follow me #634

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown; will you let my name be known?

Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?


Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare if your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?


Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen

And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?


Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around

Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?


Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name

Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show

Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

CCLI license: 1963748


May God lead us to places of rest and renewal

May Christ accompany us on the journey

May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with joy and generosity

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Christ, and Spirit, descend upon us and dwell in our hearts this day and always. AMEN

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