New Little Current minister celebrated in covenanting service

Sudbury Presbytery Chair Barbara Nott, Pastor Paul Allard and Rev Mary-Jo Tracy following Pastor Paul’s covenanting service. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—A covenanting service was held this past Sunday at the Little Current United Church to install Little Current Pastoral Charge’s new minister, Paul Allard.

The service began with a procession by the Little Current United Church together with Minister Allard and Sudbury Presbyterian Chair Barbara Nott leading the congregation in ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.’

Little Current Pastoral Charge Chair Dave Hill provided words of welcome to those in attendance, which included a number of clergy from across Northern Ontario.

The covenanting ceremony was overseen by Sudbury Presbytery Chair Barbara Nott, who guided the congregation through the service, first acknowledging that the ceremony was taking place on the traditional lands of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples, acknowledging their stewardship of “this land throughout the ages.”

Rev. Tracy delivered the meditation for the service, thanking Pastor Allard for “inviting me to preach at your covenanting.”

Following the reading of scriptures and exchange of promises between the congregation and the minister, the new minister was presented with the symbols of the ministry. Chair of the Worship Committee Ken Ferguson presented Pastor Allard with a bible intoning his wishes that “the words of this book bring us near the Word of God. The bible is a guide that, down through the years, has aided our understanding of God’s work in our everyday living, giving us faith, hope and love. This is the living word from which we learn together. Take this bible. Be among us as one who studies, teaches and proclaims the Word.”

Gail Cronin presented a pitcher of water, saying “water nourishes and refreshes us. The baptismal font shows us that we rise out of sin and turn away from evil without violence. Baptism reveals us to be a part of the living, loving family initiated by Jesus Christ. Be among us as one who baptizes in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Mike and Sharon Terry presented the minister with bread and wine. “The bread and wine make clear that Jesus died for us. In communion we are nourished and helped to grow together, sharing the presence of God’s Spirit and blessings in an experience of the eternal promise of God. Be among us as one who breaks the bread, blesses the cup and serves at table.”

Carol Hill and Diana Parrill presented the minister with a tea cup and shawl of comfort. “The ministry of pastoral care is there in times of both joy and sorrow. All through his ministry, Jesus encountered people in their various circumstances where they were, with compassion and understanding. Jesus shared in their joys and commiserated with them in their sorrows. Take this cup and shawl and join us as one who shares our stories and participates in our fellowship with compassion and humour.”

Reflecting that life is also filled with moments of joy and play, Ken Lippold presented Pastor Allard with a large stuffed toy ape, bedecked with the red ponytails of Anne of Green Gables. “The need of seeing God through childlike eyes and disposition was not lost on Jesus. Take this delightful ape with the Anne of Green Gables red pigtails and be among us as one who celebrates the Love of God in all creation with joyfulness and play.”

Little Current United Church Presbytery representative Gail Gjos presented the new minister with a copy of the United Church Apologies to the First Nations. “The United Church has a long tradition of social action and justice making and has not been afraid to call itself to account when it has been at fault. Take this copy of the United Church apologies to the First Nations peoples and be among us as a prophetic voice, speaking truth to power and committed to right relationships among all people.”

Finally, Brenda Caloyannis presented Pastor Allard with ‘The United Church Manual.’ “We have chosen to exercise our ministry as members of the United Church of Canada. The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that administration is one of the gifts of the spirit. Take this manual and be among us as one who affirms and strengthens our place within this United Church of ours.”

Following offertory, the sacrament of Communion, a thanksgiving and the final commissioning and benediction were offered to “let us go forth in the certainty of faith, in the knowledge of love, and in the vision of hope and in our going, may we be blessed with all good things on this day and forever more. May the God of love and justice accompany us, may the spirit surround us with grace and peace as we walk the way of the Christ. Let all those who do justice and love kindness say amen.” The invocation to say amen was repeated three times, each one ringing out louder than the one before.

Following the service, Pastor Allard invited everyone into the church hall for fellowship and a potluck dinner.

Minister Allard (he prefers minister to reverend as he is a lay minister “I haven’t gone through all of the university courses,” he laughs) hails originally from Kirkland Lake and worked for 26 years for Ontario Northland, most recently in the now divested Ontera division. He and his wife are unabashed animal lovers and passersby may well have noticed the addition of a pet watering station outside the front of the church in recent days.