Extérieur de l'église St. James

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Extérieur de l'église après restoration du Square - Image par Luigi Luzio de Left Hand Ideas



Fall 2016


The Minister’s Moment

Ten years ago this week, St. James was prepared to officially reveal our refurbished façade and square to the public. We had been hidden behind store fronts for almost eighty years.

The long dreamed of day had come: the media cameras were all in place; the square was tented; caterers had prepared wonderful food; politicians had their speeches ready; the church was ready for a service of thanksgiving. What a time of celebration it was going to be!

And then, in an instant, everything changed. Shots rang out at Dawson College – one dead, two wounded. The gunman killed. The city was beside itself. All eyes were fixed on this tragedy. The St. James event was no longer center of attention. But, everything is ready! What to do? What to do?

We did what we do best: turn on a dime and minister to those in need. Our service of thanksgiving became a time to mourn and reflect. Well-crafted speeches were put aside as we wept and prayed together. Our tented reception became a place to nurture one another.
All these years of waiting and now…

Ten years later, in spite of tragedy, fire, flood and dwindling resources, we are still here. Still in the heart of the city; still prepared to turn on a dime; still doing ministry.

The challenges before us are enormous. We could justifiably be discouraged: dwindling finances; fewer people in the pews; a building that needs ongoing restoration and repair; there seems to be no end to the demands being made upon us.

However, we also have great resources: the powerful Spirit of the living God to lead us; a long and proud history in the inner city; Disciples of Christ (young and old) committed to his ministry in the ‘here and now’. We are richer than we think!

The Church and St. James are about community – a community that is respectful of one another; open to new possibilities to serve and committed to the ministry of Christ Jesus.

I would take this opportunity to thank you all for your on-going support of St. James and our shared ministry.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Arlen John Bonnar


The Board’s Bulletin

A new season is at our door and as we see a little more stability coming back at St. James, more changes are ahead of us. The monument that is our church is still taking a lot of energy out of board members making it a challenge at times to focus on our mission. The visioning process of becoming Square St. James is also provoking more changes as we are focusing on making sure that our building be a better player in the Quartier des Spectacles.

With all this ahead of us, our boards of Trustee, Stewards, Session and Ministry and Personal are already at work on those new challenges. All is in place to start this new season with scheduled meetings until June 2017 along with our annual congregational meeting in March of 2017. Do not hesitate to speak with any of the members of any committee, as they are always available to discuss the many issues that we are dealing with.

Jean Lagueux
Chair of the Official Board


The Capital Campaign’s Communication

The Capital Campaign entered into its Special Initiatives and cultivation phase.  After a couple of meetings, a small group of additional members of the congregation have joined the campaign.   This group is working in collaboration with our consultant, Jasmine Fortin, to build up our network of contacts and possible donors and get the word out about our great master plan and start getting donations flowing in.
In late May we hosted an event where several interested key stakeholders participated.  This event was a sequel to the brainstorming event in 2015, where numerous ideas had been presented to us on the possibilities and potential of how to best use our spaces, inside and out.  Thus the SQUARE ST JAMES MONTRÉAL was born, and the master plan was created and presented to the participants in May 2016.  The feedback received was positive and genuine.
After the event, a couple of different development and entrepreneurial groups came back to us with interesting development project proposals, as well as support in helping us with the campaign.  We will be continuing these conversations in the fall and bring them to the congregation when we have something better defined to share.
We have also been busy meeting many different departments of the city and borough about our master plan project for St. James.  It is important that local government be aware of our plans and assist in our quest to chase down leads for funding different parts of our project.  We especially hope to make some progress on finding a partner to develop the green space around the church changing the parking lot into public accessible garden space that would contribute greatly to the life of the neighbourhood.
The Capital Campaign needs your help!  The implication of only a few people cannot make real change happen, it takes a community.  Come talk to us about how you can be involved!
Contact Diane at: or by calling the office at 514-288-9256
Jessica Gutwein
Chair Board of Trustees


The Session’s Story

In January we welcome in the New Year, at Easter we begin our church year and in September we start over after a summer break.  There is no rest during the summer, every Sunday there are tasks and duties that we on the Court of Session see to so that worship services continue to run as smoothly as possible.  From readers to greeters, elders or communion we continue to work on your behalf.

This summer’s open door program was another success.  Peter Kandalaft and his dedicated group of volunteers met and mingled with record numbers of visitors to our church.  Lil Moir’s work on creating the archive binders is worth mentioning. They can be found in the Narthex, take some time and give them a read, you will not be disappointed!

Sunday school has resumed under the leadership of Sandy Woods and Jean Lagueux. The first Sunday back after the summer had nine children in attendance.

Martin St. Pierre is now our point person charged with filling our duty roster.  He takes over from Jens Bunghart who is devoting more of his time to performing with his choir (and ours), DivertiSson.

It was with regret that we accepted the resignation of our Music Director, Mr. Philip Crozier in June of this year.  After 30 years with us Philip has decided to strike out into new territories.  We wish him all the best and hope that he will drop in from time to time.  Our Choir Director, Mr. Jean-Sebastien Allaire has also submitted his resignation which we again accepted with regret. After 12 years of faithful and energetic service to the congregation Jean-Sebastien felt it was time for a change.

The departures of our Music Director and Choir Director has given rise to serious concern for the future and direction of the choir of St. James United. The Court of Session has formed two committees to address this issue. The first committee is to see to our Music Ministry needs from September of this year to January of the next.  The second committee has been tasked with looking to the future of our programme from January onward.  As a congregation we have had our fair share of challenges in the last few years and we have faced them with commitment, energy, understanding and patience.  While I share your concerns for the future of our choir, I am confident that we will surmount our challenges with the same qualities that have seen us through other challenges.  We are in good hands under the direction of our new interim music director, Mr. Norman Robert.

As always, the members of the Court of Session are here to represent you and listen to and act on your comments and concerns.  We welcome your input and participation in all aspects of our pastoral life here at St. James.

Scott McMorran
Clerk of session


The Steward’s Scoop

After the difficult budget decisions that we were forced to make last year — with the resulting sacrifices, cutbacks and restructuring — we now seem to be using more black ink then red in our financial statements!

The cuts we had to make are helping to balance our books, but the biggest gains have been in revenues. While congregational contributions remain stable, there has been a marked increase in rental revenues, largely thanks to a proactive approach in renting spaces in the building and the magnificent square in front of the church and especially due to the rental agreement that we have with Le Balcon for use of the kitchen and Richmond Room spaces during the week. Le Balcon is proving to be a good partner for Saint-James, in keeping with our mission to be at the heart of the musical and cultural life of the Quartier des spectacles.

One of the most important parts of the mission that the Stewards committee has given itself over the past few years is to make our budgeting and accounting procedures as modern and as transparent as possible. We have implemented a modernized accounting system and are now at the fine-tuning stage of adapting it to the budget we adopted at the Congregational Meeting in March. This is enabling us to accurately track our revenues and expenses on a month-to-month basis.

The updating of procedures and management also extends to our office and maintenance departments. This is an ongoing multi-faceted process and is reported on at our monthly meetings.

The parking lot, which we have been sharing with the company doing the construction of the Desjardins building on Mayor Street, will returned to the congregation at the end of this year. We will be proposing a plan for management of the lot that will allow us to benefit from it as an important source of revenue while the congregation examines the long term use of those spaces.

We will be asking for volunteers in the near future to help with the second phase of our basement clean-up and re-organisation. That will take place on a Saturday morning sometime this fall. Lunch will be provided.

Lastly, just a reminder of two workshops coming up in October and November, organized by the Montréal and Ottawa Conference of the UCC, for Treasurers, Trustees, Stewardship and Outreach Committees.  These are very worthwhile and informative workshops and are open to all. Please have a look at the information brochure that can be accessed at the following link. Stewardship, Mission & Service Workshops – Fall 2016

Wade Eide
Chair of Stewards


The Trustees’ Tale

Restoration Projects
This spring with the help of our restoration project manager, Allen Fuller, a 7th request to Le Patrimoine Religieux du Québec for grant funding (for the year 2016-2017) was submitted for restorations and repairs to St. James United Church.   In July we received the good news that we have been awarded a grant for $400,000 from Patrimoine, to which St. James is required to add funds in the amount of 20% of the grant award.  Plans to complete the work that remains on the back wall of Dawson / Churchill are underway.  We hope to have all funding in place to be able to start the work later this autumn, to be completed before the winter.  If this timeline becomes a challenge, we will have the work done as soon as possible in the spring.  Patrimoine gives us 3 years to complete a grant project.  We hope this year to see this back wall project finally finished and the last of the outstanding repayments to contractors (due to cost overruns because of unforeseen problems with the existing structure) paid in full.

Jessica Gutwein,
Chair – Board of Trustees


The Executive Director’s Edit

When I sit here on the 2nd floor and review almost a year at St. James United, I am absolutely amazed at the breadth and depth of the involvement of so many wonderful people. The generosity of spirit, sharing of expertise and pure dedication that is seen on a regular basis is nothing short of breath-taking.
As many of you know, we welcome Trina Padulo as Administrative Support. Joining us on May 17th, she is a true asset in stepping up after the departure of Stephanie Whipple-Chown who chose to move onto a different career path.
Our colleagues Pablo and Juan (our building support team) continue to support us and we appreciate their dedication and hard work.
We have seen a rental volume that has contributed to us being “in the black” from an operational perspective. Our relationship with Le Balcon continues to grow and we are pleased to be able to find a group that is understanding of the St. James reality, the spirit of community that we strive to create and their appreciation for their space within the St. James monument.
The fall brings not only beautiful colour but the return to the busy and ongoing focus of the Church year and all this entails for St. James. A musical shift, a diversity of rentals, Christmas Benefit Concert, energizing our Capital Campaign, and countless other surprises no doubt in store. It promises to be an exciting season.

Diane M. Ellison
Executive Director


Volume 48 Number 1 September 2015

Dear Friends,

The 42nd General Council of the United Church was held this summer in Corner Brook, NL. The General Council (GC) meets every three years to reflect upon the ministry and mission of our church. This years’ theme was: “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelations 21:5)

The principle piece of work before GC was to respond to the document entitled “A Comprehensive Review”. The document suggested new ways that we, as a United Church, could more effectively respond to our changing times and financial constraints. While these changes are not always easy or welcome, they are necessary for our continued ministry. Some changes have been implemented and others will continue to be studied and addressed at the next GC. If you would like further information, please go to the United Church website:

Our national church is restructuring, so too, are Conferences, Presbyteries and congregations. This is truly a time of change in the church we have all known and loved.

Some are filled with excitement while others are filled with fear and a sense of loss. We are called as a community of faith to listen to one another and to work together in these changing times. We have done it in the past and no doubt, we will do so now. The Church has never been, nor should it ever be, a stagnant organization, for we are Spirit led. This applies as well to our St. James!

Sometimes we make the mistake of equating our ministry with the building, rather than remembering that the building only houses the ministry. The St. James congregation has been blessed with this building since 1887 and it has served us well for many generations. Our designation as a national and provincial historical site has been an honour shown to us and has helped in developing our prominent place in the life of Montreal. However, our ministry is now being seriously overshadowed by our building and the enormous cost to restore it. Even with the generosity of the Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec, we are finding it a challenge to contribute to the restoration.

It may be time for us to do what other United Churches have done across the country. That is, to separate the congregation from the building. This does not mean we will be moving but, designating parts of the building for non-religious use which may respond to needs in the community and provide necessary funding for the congregation and its ministry. The elected board members of St. James, in consultation with you, the members and adherents of the congregation, have been exploring new and faithful ways to be the Church in this time and place. I want to thank you all for your time and dedication to this demanding and challenging task.

If we go in this direction, there will be a continued need for our community of faith and our partners to work together in finding creative solutions. It will be a time of uncertainty and without a doubt, many of us will be anxious about changes in what is familiar to us. The people of St. James have in the past, dealt courageously with the need for change and trusted in the God who said to them, “Behold I make all things new.”: the creation of St. James in 1803; the move to ‘uptown’ in 1887; the construction of the front buildings in 1927; the taking down of the front buildings in 2005.

Today, in 2015, God speaks the same words to us again: “Behold, I make all things new.” I pray that we will courageously follow the leading of the Spirit trusting that as we go, the God of new beginnings is with us

Yours in Christ, Rev. Arlen


Our sympathy is offered to: Rev. Dr. Ralph Watson, whose son, John, died in February; Vi Vouden, whose daughter Diane, died in March; Maurice Tringle, whose wife Phyllis Spurrell died in April; Amor Mantes, whose mother, Leonida, died in April. Leonida is the sister of Lee Santiago.

The following people have been ‘under the weather’ and we send them our best wishes: Zina Traicheff, Rev. Jeff Barlow, and Flo Jackson.

At Easter we welcomed Ashely Crouch and François Hastir into church membership.
Membership Transfers were requested by Bruce Gilbert, and Noreen and Mervyn Philip.

We said ‘goodbye’ to Brian Fox in April as he moved to Palm Springs, California. Rev. Dr. Phyllis Smyth has re-located to Bedford where she is minister at Bedford United Church. Rev. Doug Stewart has retired and moved to Nova Scotia to be closer to family. We wish them the very best as they begin their new journeys.

Congratulations to Liette Michaud who has been appointed a member of the United Church of Canada’s Permanent Committee on Programs for Mission and Ministry.


(if you are unable to attend a meeting, please call your regrets to the office)

Wednesday, September 9/th 6:00 p.m. Trustees
Wednesday, 16th 5:30 p.m. Session
Wednesday, 23rd 6:00 p.m. Stewards
Sunday, 27th Congregational meeting after service.

(Please note that unless otherwise announced monthly meetings are as follows:
Trustees: 2nd Wednesday; Session: 3rd Wednesday; Stewards: 4th Wednesday.
Official Board: quarterly/Wednesdays/at call of the Chair

The Congregational Picnic/BBQ will be held after service on Sunday, September 13th.
Please plan to join us for this fun-filled event.