Jubilee United Church

40 Underhill Drive | Toronto, Ontario, M3A 2J5 | 416.447.6846

Welcome to Jubilee United Church


Jubilee United Church is an Affirming Ministry, offering welcome and companionship to all people regardless of sexual orientation or designation.

Jubilee United Church was created by the coming together of Bethesda, Donminster and Victoria Village, and most recently, St. John’s  United Churches.   Embracing the gifts of these congregations and the many individuals who have joined our community since 2000, we continue to grow. We acknowledge the sacred land upon which Jubilee United Church stands. People have been on this land for 15,000 years. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the “Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant”, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and Confederacy of the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Virtual Worship - Sunday, June 28 at 1030 am - You are invited.

Daily Biblical Reflection with Rev. Norm Seli
Mon-Fri  Currently reading the book of Acts.

For Previous Jubilee Moments Click Here

Weekly Update

Dear Members and Friends of Jubilee United Church.
This update comes to you on Saturday, August 1st.

First things, first- this is the link to the Sunday Morning Worship service.  As always, it will run at 1030am and will be available when you want to watch it subsequent to the initial viewing.
The service this week is about an hour long (okay, 62 minutes) and includes both Genesis 32:22-31 and Matthew 14:13-21.  We have two limericks in the service, another from Barbara Greenwood and one from Alda Gieruszczak that I found particularly perceptive.   We will also acknowledge August 1st as Emancipation Day during the lighting of the Christ Candle.

You will likely recall that last year we began sponsorships of our friends from Uganda, Sherry and Ivan.  Sherry is doing well and making some adjustments to her apartment while Ivan is working at North York General Hospital and is just moving into a new apartment.  In support of our friends we are on the look out for the following:

small desk
Queen size mattress
living room couch or chairs
side tables
shower curtain
broom and mop
garbage cans (kitchen and bathroom)
curtains or blinds for window
area rugs

If you have any of the desired items, please let me know and we will figure out a way to get them from you to where they are needed and will be appreciated. 
(nseli@jubileeunited.ca  or call 416-447-6846 x103)

Last week, I was asking folks to be thinking about what our priorities should be as we consider re-opening.  Is Sunday Worship your primary concern or might you feel safer with smaller serviced during the week?  What about small groups, do we want to provide space for them to gether?   Are you prepared for Sunday Worship if we have to wear masks and can’t shake hands, sing hymns or have coffee?  What can we do to make Sundays more engaging without some of our usual practices??     For those who are connecting virtually, how can we develop a deeper relationship?    I was really pleased to receive half a dozen considered responses and I would be pleased to hear more.  If you have ideas, please share them with me and they will become part of the planning and decision making.  Feel free to email or phone me with your thoughts.

And as usual, please email me pictures of your life that I can use in future services – pictures of your in your mask, fun pictures, serious pictures, group photos, selfies… I want ’em all.   And, of course, we’d love to have your voice, too.  I am always looking for readers.    Let me know that you are available and I will call on you to help.

As for life around Jubilee, you should know that Anne has begun her Maternity Leave and we will let you know next week how we are going to manage with her being away.   We do have a plan.

For now, be safe; God bless you and please know that you are not alone.

I miss you – the whole teams misses the hustle and bustle of Jubilee, the people, the smiles and the energy.  But we won’t be apart forever, just for now.

See you tomorrow at Worship!

In Faith and Hope

Rev. Norm Seli  (on behalf of the Jubilee Team)

Here are some of the most requested links:
Sunday Check in, 1130am -1230     https://zoom.us/j/756954235
Tuesday Coffee – Tuesday at 11am – noon  https://zoom.us/j/348451849
Daily Check in, 530-630pm   https://zoom.us/j/846416417
Daily Meditations and Worship Services are on my Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgNHaEdFtqnOUxgkRdty9vQ?view_as=subscriber

Just a little something from the "Howling Heretics" and Definitely NOT Church

On Sunday, June 23, 2013, we celebrated together Jubilee being officially an “Affirming Ministry.”

church-prideWhat that means is that we are recognized and take responsibility for inviting, welcoming, and including all people who want to experience the love of God and ministry of Jesus Christ as expressed in our community – regardless of sexual orientation or designation.  We take on, as a ministry, the care and comfort of those marginalized and victimized by others for their identity as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered (LGBT) people.  As much as it is about LGBT people, it is about a wider diversity as well.  It is about inviting, welcoming, and including those who feel left out because of age, culture, or perceived / experienced abilities.  Becoming an Affirming Ministry is a celebration and commitment to embrace diversity intentionally, graciously, and compassionately – the way that Jesus did.

With your help, we will continue to be a loving, inclusive and responsible community.

We have:

  • Outreach Programs, Discussion Groups
  • Men’s Groups, Women’s Groups
  • Children’s Groups, Youth Groups
  • Bible Studies, Non-Traditional Worship

You are invited to join us.

How to Find Us

Let’s Keep in touch

Sign up to receive occasional updates from Jubilee United Church, including our Jubilation newsletter, Definitely NOT Church, and many more! To change your subscription settings or to unsubscribe, simply use the hyperlinks at the bottom of any subscription e-mail, or contact the office for assistance.

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Jubilee United Church

Jubilee Moments - Wednesday, August 5
Rev. Norm Seli continues to read and wonder about the Acts of the Apostles.
Today it's Acts 12:1-19 as Peter miraculously escapes prison
and Norm wonders about story-telling, faith and what it means to "follow" Jesus.

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Jubilee Moments - Monday, August 8
Rev. Norm Seli continues to read and wonder about the Acts of the Apostles.
Today, it's Acts 11: 19-30 - the growth of the early church and first use of the name "Christian" .
Norm wonders about identity, opportunity and what it means to be "Christian".

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Jubilee Moments - Monday, August 3
Rev. Norm Seli continues to read and wonder about the Acts of the Apostles.
Today, it's Acts 11: 1-18, as we hear Paul recount his vision
and Norm wonders about whose close and whose far in relation to God and how to really share faith with others.

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The Truth is More Important than Feeling GoodSlavery existed within Canada, and it’s important to acknowledge its legacy.

This is the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oro-Medonte. It is only a few kilometres north of the Shining Waters Regional Council's main office. Opened in 1849, this place of worship is the last remnant of one of the earliest Black settlements in the country. It is a sacred space, with unmarked graves scattered across the one-acre piece of land.

I grew up in this township. Throughout my school years, my classmates and I would hear stories about what was called the Wilberforce Settlement. I was told this community of Black farmers was originally home to families who had escaped the horrors of slavery in the Southern United States. Honestly, it felt good to be on the right side of history. It felt good. I could be proud in the knowledge that my community’s legacy was one of freedom and hope for those who had been oppressed. Slavery was a tragedy that happened in another country, far away. Thank goodness slavery did not exist here in Canada.

Unfortunately, when we become attached to being on the right side of history, the complicated and messy bits can get lost or glossed over.

When Canadians talk about slavery, we often point with pride to the role our country played in the mid‐1800s as a safe haven for enslaved Blacks escaping captivity via the Underground Railroad. This, however, is only part of the story. Like the United States, Canada has its own history of slavery – and it is a history that should not be forgotten.

On the land where Shining Waters Regional Council sits, the enslavement of Black and Indigenous people was entirely legal until 1793. At this point, laws were passed that prohibited the import of enslaved labour. However, those who were already enslaved were not freed and children who were born to enslaved Blacks were not emancipated until the age of 25. Those who were enslaved were forced to clear land, construct buildings and become domestic servants. They suffered physical, mental, spiritual and sexual abuse at the hands of their oppressors, often for generations. All of this was endorsed by the colonial governments of the time.

It was not until 1819 that the government of Upper Canada declared all Black residents to be free. Slavery was not abolished throughout the British Empire, including the whole of British North America, until August 1, 1834 — less than three decades before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

However, freedom from slavery does not mean freedom from discrimination and racism. Many Blacks remained indentured servants for years after the abolition of slavery, receiving no financial compensation for their work. Being free did not necessarily mean being welcome and being treated equally.

During the War of 1812, a militia unit called the Captain Runchy’s Company of Coloured Men was created from free Black men and indentured Black servants. After the war, these militiamen were offered plots of land by the government, tasked with guarding Upper Canada against potential attack by American forces in the area between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay. This community became known as the Wilberforce Settlement.

So, although there were likely some formerly enslaved people who joined the community after escaping through the Underground Railroad, these free militiamen were the original settlers of the area surrounding the Oro African Church. The land provided to these families was something earned through military service, not the result of a community happy to welcome escaped refugees from Southern plantations. The narrative I had been happy to believe for years was wrong.

This is one of the ways systemic racism works, and it’s been going on forever.

Despite their military service during some of the most pivotal campaigns in the war, the plots of land offered by the government to these Black veterans were next to impossible to farm. The soil was bad. Crops did not thrive.

So, this feel good story I had been told about my community being a sanctuary for those experiencing injustices perpetrated in faraway places — that was not even close to the full truth. The Wilberforce Settlement is also an early example of the ongoing, systemic racism experienced by Black citizens in Canada.

After years of struggling with bad soil (and some men leaving to fight in the American Civil War), by 1900 the Wilberforce Settlement was almost entirely abandoned. Looking back, I wonder why it was never questioned, at any point during my school years, “If it was so great living here, why do I never see any Black people in my community?”

Because it felt good to be on the right side of history...and that was good enough.

White fragility is a powerful thing.

Today (August 1st), Communities of Faith within the United Church of Canada are encouraged to commemorate Emancipation Day and the abolition of slavery within the British Empire — including the land we now call Canada.

You can learn more about how you and/or your Community of Faith can actively engage in anti-racism work, by going to the new United Against Racism website. There are links to resources for further learning, and invitations to take action against systemic racism in both local communities and the broader Canadian context.

It felt good to be able to point to our Southern neighbour and say, “Thank goodness that never happened here! Thank goodness I come from a place that is on the right side of history.”

Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3-5

But the truth is never that simple, and truth is more important than protecting a narrative that makes some of us feel good.

Bri-anne Swan is the Minister for Social & Ecological Justice and Network Support at Shining Waters Regional Council.

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