Fall 2018

The Minister’s Moment

Rev. Arlen John Bonnar

Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the bounty of blessings that are ours. In spite of the challenges that are often before us at St. James, we always seem to have enough to see us through the difficult times. Yet the gathering and managing of these important resources are no easy task, especially in today’s world where so many demands are being made upon fewer and fewer people.

God has called humans into a special role called stewards. In this relationship, the supremacy of the Creator over all is acknowledged, while the trust of care for the creation is placed in human hands. A steward is one who acts on behalf of the owner as if that which is being cared for belongs to him or her.

So it is with followers of Christ Jesus, we are all called to be stewards – good and effective administrators of that which has been entrusted to us. Specifically, we at St. James have been named stewards over the care of this congregation and our church building.

We are fortunate to have a Committee of Stewards that does most of this work for us. They manage the financial aspect of our congregation, overseeing the financial support for ministry and maintenance of our building. A daunting responsibility to say the least!

You will discover within this Circuit Rider, important information about the Committee of Stewards work and how we, members of St. James, can support them in their endeavours on our behalf.

As we have been blessed, let us be a blessing to others; as we have received God’s bounty, let us share with others; as we have been loved by God, let our love extend to others. As we have been called to be servants of Christ, let us humbly offer ourselves in service to others.

I want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.
Rev. Arlen


The Board’s Bulletin

Jean Lagueux
Chair – Official Board

Following the congregational meeting held on September 16, 2018, where we informed the congregation on ongoing projects, this Circuit Rider provides you with updates on activities and projects coordinated by our committees.

As the chairs of Stewards, Trustees, Session, Ministry and Personnel and our Presbytery representatives reported, repositioning St. James into our changing environment is a major concern which still requires a lot of energy from most committees. As the United Church of Canada is entering in new ways to organise the governance of the church, the Official Board of St. James also started a process of visioning into the future to look at new ways of being a spiritual and mission presence in downtown Montreal. More information will follow this fall on this strategic visioning process.

Informing the congregation of our activities and the decisions being made is also a very important responsibility of the Official Board. Periodically, we are holding congregational meetings to provide information on what is going on around the church as well as sending out the Circuit Rider. Please take the time to read reports from all, as more important decisions will be ahead.

Finally, volunteers always make a difference in the life of a church and I would like to remind you that you could get involved in making St. James better by joining a committee or by giving a hand during our Sunday worship. All are welcome.

The Trustees’ Tale

Jessica Gutwein
Chair – Board of Trustees


Restoration Projects

What’s going on now?
There are two restoration projects presently underway at the church. In August we began the small project to restore two bays of the masonry wall on the City Councillors side of Dawson Hall. Our 2017 grant from the Conseil de Patrimoine religieux du Québec (CPRQ) and a 2018 award from Parks Canada are funding this project. The work is due to be completed this October. Our 2016 CPRQ grant project on the back wall of Dawson hit another snag this summer, with the supplier of the exterior glass going on strike. With some luck, we will soon be up and running towards the completion, finally, of this project as well.

What’s next?
We have been awarded a 2018 grant from CPRQ allowing for a $300,000 restoration project ($60,000 contribution required from St. James), which we have not yet started. This next restoration project will restore of the windows located in the masonry bays from the current project. Other upcoming projects include a major cleaning repair to the organ, which we recently discovered to be covered in heavy dust caused by debris removal from the basement flood of few years ago. We have also received a loan for $100,000 from Presbytery to start our project to install a second emergency boiler for the building.


Partnership Campaign

Our goal this year is to put in place the public and private partners necessary to:

  • Draw energy to the building, attract more people from the community to utilise our spaces, and breathe life into our halls
  • Fast track the completion of the remaining restoration work
  • Create a universal access for the building
  • Relieve the congregation of the burden of the continuing restoration and rental management of the edifice

Our conversations with the non-profit organization Atelier Créatif are very promising and we hope to be coming to you very soon with a proposal for your consideration. These conversations involve the idea of entering into a long-term partnership where they would develop our available spaces into artist studios, and would possibly see them taking over the maintenance, rentals and restoration projects for the building.

We continue to work actively with the help of our consultant, Jasmine Fortin, to chase down special funding from the three levels of government that would provide for the completion of our restorations in one large project. Despite all the hard work and perseverance, we seem to be going in circles when attempting to secure the funding to fast-track the work. My concern is mounting as to how long we can and should continue with our present course of grant projects and what would be our alternative. This is something that we will be discussing at length in Trustees and will be bringing soon to the Official Board.

The Steward’s Scoop

Wade Eide

The Stewards committee is pleased to report that the general financial situation of the church is on the positive side of the ledger. As of August 2018, our year-to-date figures show a surplus of revenues over expenses of approximately $113,000 and we expect to meet or exceed the budget targets that we set at our 2018 Annual Congregational Meeting.

Rentals comprise the major portion of our revenues. Our two most important rental partners, the Allied buildings at the front of the church and Le Balcon, bring in, respectively, $300,000 and $86,000 annually. We also have a three-year agreement with the Ville de Montréal for use of the church grounds on the north side of the building that adds $192,000 to the annual rental revenue budget, which totals over $600,000. At its September meeting, Stewards agreed to extend the lease with Le Balcon.

Where we have fallen short on the revenue side is in Sunday offerings and other donations. Our rental revenues are currently good, but we still depend on the stewardship commitments that we make as a congregation of faith. The contributions that we make to St. James not only supports the mission and work of the church, they serve also to bind us as a community. In that light, we will be launching a stewardship campaign over the coming months, beginning with a special stewardship letter that will be sent out at Thanksgiving.

All the revenues that we receive are important for the general expenses of operating and maintaining a church of this size and, as we all know, there is no end to the improvements that are so much needed.

We recently replaced the sound system in the sanctuary, which has greatly enhanced Sunday morning services, which, after all, are at the heart or our mission.

We recently discovered that we needed to replace our very old electrical panels, which were becoming a fire hazard. That work is completed.

Other important and expensive repairs are on the horizon. Due to the work that had to be done to the back of the church after our fire and flood, the dust had found its way into the pipes of the organ. The cost of removing, cleaning, and reinstalling all the pieces is high but is vital to maintaining the important investment that we made in restoring this magnificent instrument.

Another important but expensive project on the to-do list is to rewire and restore the chandelier in the sanctuary. Unfortunately, we have had to turn it off for safety reasons, which has greatly reduced the quality of the lighting in the sanctuary.

To complete the list, we are also examining the feasibility and means of installing a video surveillance system in the church.

The other priorities that have been set by Stewards include:

  • completing the procedures manual by documenting things like the operation of the alarm system, the heating system, banking procedures, office procedures, etc.;
  • updating job descriptions;
  • making contingency plans for temporary staff replacements;
  • establishing a plan for long-term building management.


A first for St. James – Pride @ St. James Service on August 19th, 2018.

The Session’s Story

Scott McMorran
Clerk – Session

We have a special article from our own
Peter Kandalaft, Open door Coordinator 2015-2018

The summer season at the Open Door is now over although we hope to continue operating on Saturdays after the Labour Day weekend.

This summer we welcomed two new student guides: Arnaud Germain-Dupont and Yi Heng Wang. In addition to their duties as tour guides, they also worked on media presentations of various architectural and decorative aspects of the church.

The help of our volunteers is always most appreciated. My sincerest thanks to Sandy Woods, Del Rouleau, Maureen Adams and Billy for their dedication to the Open Door program.

This year we welcomed over 25,000 guests from all over the world between June 20th and Labour Day. The youngest was only eight days old.

This summer the organ concerts were scheduled on Fridays at 12:30 instead of Tuesdays as was the case in 2017. We received many positive comments from our guests who attended these events.

This was my last summer as coordinator of the Open Door program. I have enjoyed these past three years immensely and wish God’s blessings on all the members of St James.

Ministry & Personnel (M&P)

Iris Shestowsky
Chair – M&P

The Ministry and Personnel Committee (M&P) did not assemble over the summer months, however will reconvene with a meeting involving all the staff of St. James United Church on September 26, 2018.

The Ministry and Personnel Committee is currently at three (3) members following the resignation of Jean Luc Safari. The committee extends our heartfelt thanks to Jean Luc for his participation over these many months.

Over the course of the spring and early summer, M&P met with the employees of St. James United Church (with the exception of two (2) on leave during the interview process, one (1) resignation just prior), initiating a relationship with staff. General recurring themes gleaned from these interviews was shared in a report with the Chairs of the Official Board, Stewards and Trustees.

M&P welcomes your thoughts, your suggestions and hopefully your interest in possibly joining our committee. M&P is actively seeking members.

The Executive Director’s Edit

Diane M. Ellison
Executive Director

We have certainly had a busy summer here at St. James with the Open Door, the Festival D’Orgue, special organ concerts with our own Dr. Mark McDonald and our first ever Pride @ St. James Worship Service on August 19, 2018.

All was very well received and we are already in “reflection mode” for the 2019 editions of these much loved summer programmes.

With fall now showing its warm glory, we are hard at work with renewed church rentals, some new guests and in the planning stage for the upcoming Christmas Season. We are also working closely with all our committees who are now in full gear to embark on an exciting new church year.

As always, it is a pleasure to be part of such a vibrant and dedicated faith community…and we look forward to the journey ahead for 2018-2019

But hope has an astonishing resilience and strength. Its very persistence in our hearts indicates that it is not a tonic for wishful thinkers but the ground on which realists stand

Kathleen Norris

Dear Friends:

Thanksgiving accentuates the beauty of God’s creation in the changing seasons. Taking time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for sounds so simple, yet we are not very good at it. Perhaps this is an invitation for you to prayerfully spend time pondering, how “To live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:48 – The Message)

For us, we are thankful for the awakening of the need to reset our lives, listening carefully to the call of God leading us to renew our engagement with St. James, our faith community.

We believe that St. James United Church is a congregation brimming with abundance, a living ministry. However, as we survey the world around us it is clear that our ministry is not completed. God continues calling us to live with respect in creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice… and finding ways to live generously and graciously toward others.

Think of an important happening in your or someone else’s life that involved the ministry of St. James, or when St. James made a loving statement in the community. The importance of this ministry is priceless. How can we ensure that our ministry continues?

Your Sunday offering to St. James represents important ways in which you commit to mission, ministry, and witness. It is your response to God’s vast generosity in your life and it is how you make a positive difference as an individual and a family in your community.

St. James needs you to continue giving to its ministry through your financial support. The committee of Stewards invites you to prayerfully consider your financial support to St. James over the 2018 -19 church year. There are many options for supporting ministry i.e. raising your donation, using automatic withdrawal donation (PAR) and thinking of including us in your estate planning. With this letter, we have provided resources to aid you in making faithful financial decisions, ensuring our ongoing ministry.  Kindly give them a look, you will no doubt find some very interesting information within these documents.

This Thanksgiving we invite you to reflect on your own abundance and offer back to God’s people a portion of God’s Grace given to you for the furthering of our common ministry together.

We also welcome the opportunity to speak with you concerning any specific ministries that are of particular interest to you.  Kindly contact the office and we will arrange for a meeting with the appropriate colleagues and yourself.

 We thank you in advance for your support of St. James.

Rev. Patricia Lisson                     Mr. Wade Eide
Chair of Stewardship 2018                Chair of the Committee of Stewards




For your listening pleasure, here is the finale of our December 1st, 2017 Christmas Benefit Concert.  As we exited the Church all were invited to create a small point of light in our little corner of Montreal.    All funds raised go to help the less fortunate in our community.


Fall 2017
The Minister’s Moment

My first inclination in writing this message was to focus on all the many tragedies that are happening in the world. I have decided to not address these events, but to give a place to other things for a moment. Too often we get caught up in the negative and forget to focus on the positive, which is life-giving. 

On Sunday, October 1st, in church we had a theme of remembering and giving thanks: a congregational member’s life that was well lived, Erskine and American United Church who continue their ministry at St. James, Jesus giving the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation to the Church – a faith that is life-giving

We also held a congregational meeting where the challenges before the congregation were named, as well as our hopes and dreams for our future. We remembered those people of faith who served before us. We gave thanks for the amazing group of committed people of today’s St. James, who take seriously their call to discipleship – a place that is life-giving!

On Thanksgiving Sunday, the church focuses on the bounty of the good earth. As we give thanks for these things, let us not forget to give thanks for all the ‘unseen’ hands that provide them: farmers, fishers, bakers, millers, those who labour in the fields, those who work in factories… these and so many more are the behind the scene folk who keep us fed, clothed and warm – people who are life-giving!

In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you who work so diligently here at St. James to create a community that provides welcome, nurture and a spiritual home for many. I give thanks to God for the call, seventeen years ago this month, to be your minister.

Please, take some time in quietness and prayer to thank God for the many blessings that have been poured out upon you.

Yours in Christ, Rev. Arlen John Bonnar

The Board’s Bulletin

Following the congregational meeting held on October 1st, 2017, where we informed the congregation on ongoing projects, this Circuit Rider provides you with updates on activities and projects coordinated by our committees.

Taking care of the maintenance, the restoration and the renovation of the church building remains a major concern which still requires a lot of energy from most committees.  However, steps are being made to better our daily life at St. James as well as looking into the future.

As the United Church of Canada is entering in new ways to organise the governance of the church, the Official Board of St. James will also look at different ways to govern as we have less members getting involved in its governance structure.  The Official Board is also continuing its work initiated in 2015 to look at new ways of organizing our staff in order to be more efficient and better use our resources in the office and in managing the building.

Informing the congregation of our activities and decisions being made is also a very important responsibility of the Official Board.  Periodically, we are holding congregational meetings to provide information on what is going on around the church as well as sending out the Circuit Rider.  Please take the time to read reports from all as more important decisions will be ahead.

Finally, volunteers always make a difference in the life of a church and I would like to remind you that you can get involved in making St. James better by joining a committee or by giving a hand in our Sunday worship; all are welcome.

Jean Lagueux, Chair of the Official Board

The Capital Campaign’s Communication

The campaign has experienced a shift from traditional capital campaign to non-traditional Partnership Campaign due to a lack of available manpower from our organisation. With the organisational work of our consultant, Jasmine Fortin, all the planning and meetings of the past few years have started to bring us some very important opportunities.

We are in a place where we are actively working with the different levels and government and with private and business partners on ways to bring parts of our Master Plan to life, specifically ways to fund the remaining exterior restoration work, the creation of an accessible entrance and the transformation of our grounds into green space. We have several things in the works that will be shared with you when we have some concrete commitments.

Jessica Gutwein, Chair – Board of Trustees

The Session’s Story

Here we are, it is autumn already and with the change of the season we welcome a new season of worship here at St. James.

While many of us enjoyed holiday time spent with family and friends, all of the volunteer committee members saw that our congregation experienced a wonderful summer of services, music and special events. The members of the Court of Session see to the duties connected to worship services, from readers to elders, greeters to communion and music.

Mark McDonald, our organist took on the task of organizing our Summer Organ Recital Series. As successful as it was, Mark is planning to make some changes to revive and rebrand the event.

On September 10th after church we gathered in Dawson Hall for our annual fall BBQ.

Sunday school has resumed on September 10th with our committed teachers Sandy Woods and Jean Lagueux. We look forward to this year’s program and can’t wait to see how our Sunday school kids will enrich and surprise us with their projects. As of this publication, the Sunday school have already undertaken a fundraising program for Hurricane Disaster relief.

As I hope you already know, the members of the Court of Session are here to represent you and collaborate with you to make our congregation, worship, music and outreach as meaningful and relevant as possible. We look forward to your input and participation.

Scott McMorran, Clerk of Session

The Steward’s Scoop

The Committee of Stewards is happy to report that the efforts and difficult decisions we’ve had to make over the last couple of years in order to streamline our administration, update our operations and improve our finances are bearing fruit. Our modernized accounting system is now fully implemented and, thanks to increased revenues from rentals, including the use of Dawson Hall and the kitchen areas by Le Balcon, as well as the rental of parts of the square for events and promotions, our financial situation is in the black. A big part of the financial health of the church is due to the generous contributions of you, the congregation of St. James, as well as that of the many visitors that we welcome to our services every Sunday and in our Open Door programme during the week. Be it through your offering on the plate or through other donations of time and money, it all strengthens us as a community and enables our church to continue its good works in our city and in our world. Thank you so much!

You have probably noticed improvements to our side entrances and a sprucing up of the narthex. A big thanks to the work of Pablo and Juan and the direction given by Diane in continuing to maintain our place of worship. We still have a lot of projects in the works, such as improving the sound system and the lighting. As our financial situation continues to evolve in a positive way, we hope to realise these and many more vital improvements.

Wade Eide, Chair of Stewards

The Trustees’ Tale

Restoration Projects – What’s going on now?

The final part of the project to restore the back wall of Dawson Hall was begun this spring. As any construction projects, we faced many delays when trying to align contractors schedule, financing, etc. The remaining work is to complete the restoration on the false bell towers and the installation of the window and of the exterior fire exit stair. Most of the work to date has been completed off site at the contractors’ workshops but final installations on site are to begin in September and will be completed this fall.

What’s left?

After this project’s completion, the parts of the building’s exterior that remain to be restored are the other segments (wall and windows) of Dawson Hall and those of the St-Alexandre side of the sanctuary. To give an idea of what that would mean for how much time it would take to complete this work, if we were to continue working at our present rate, receiving a $400-500K grant from Patrimoine each year, it would take more than 12 years to complete, about one bay segment per year. A total of close to 10M$ is needed to complete the entire exterior restoration. Our Master plan also anticipates an eventual interior restoration of the sanctuary, with permanent repairs to the structure, removing the unsightly temporary supports we have had in our grand hall for the last several years.

What’s next?

This spring with the help of our restoration project manager, Allen Fuller, an 8th request to Le Patrimoine Religieux du Québec for grant funding (for the year 2017-2018) was submitted for restorations and repairs to St. James United Church.   In July, we received the news that we have been awarded a grant for $240,000 from Patrimoine, to which St. James is required to add funds in the amount of 20% of the grant award (approximately $60 000).  We will have 3 years to use the grant. We plan to use the funds to continue onto the next bay of the exterior Dawson wall, restoring one bay of masonry and one window.  We are also working now to pursue additional grant funding from Parks Canada to allow us to get more work done in the project.

Jessica Gutwein, Chair – Board of Trustees

The Executive Director’s Edit

Soon to be entering my 3rd year at the dynamic and ever-evolving community of St. James, I continue to be amazed at the effort, energy and enthusiasm of all the members of this spiritual family.

Our days are filled with the myriad of tasks ranging from ensuring the appropriate support for Worship, moving a strategic plan forward, ensuring optimization of resources and contributing to the creation of new or variations on a multitude of projects.

We are never bored…and it is such a pleasure to work with our collaborators.

I must thank a few folks without whom the ongoing improvements and projects could not happen.

Pablo and Juan – your patience, hard work and ongoing flexibility are a true gift for which we are thankful. Gracias señores!

Trina – you do a great job in supporting many areas with a calm, measured approach and always with good humour. It is appreciated!

To all the colleagues (Minister, Chair of the Board, Committee Heads, Clerk of Session, Committee Members, Music Leaders, members of the congregation and partners) – sincere thanks!

Here’s to an exciting new year in the life of St. James.

Diane M. Ellison, Executive Director







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