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







Previous Post