Our services are often clustered in themes, like “Many Gardens – One World” (Autumn 2003) or “Dreams in the Night – Stories for the Journey--a look at the vision stories from the Hebrew scriptures. (Lent 2003), “SpiritWorks” (Autumn 2004), and “That We May Know Each Other: Muslim – United Church Dialogue” (Winter 2005).
We examine each theme in a series of topics. “SpiritWorks” explored the presence and relationship of creative Spirit in some of our members’ workplaces, school-days, and creative writing.
Often, compelling topics lead Bathurst to respond with a special service or do something out of the ordinary. Since 2002 we have attended a screening at Planet In Focus: the Toronto International Environmental Film and Video Festival. The festival takes place on the first Sunday of October. We have also taken part in a multi-faith celebration organized as part of Planet in Focus.
Other services that called our attention to special themes or events have included “Braiding Remembrance and Hope: A Service to Commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women,” (December 2002), and the United Church of Canada HIV/AIDS campaign, Beads of Hope (January 2002).
We also celebrate traditional events like Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter in our own way, and non-traditional festivals like Black History Month and Summer Solstice and Pride Sunday.
Someone once said “Anything can happen at a Bathurst service.” While this is certainly true, there is also something familiar to be found for regular worshipers and visitors on a Sunday morning.
Bathurst is committed to a multi-faith sensitivity. We seek to be attentive to the important religious festivals our neighbours celebrate. We would try to pray for members of the Jewish community during Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Our prayers embody the principles established by the United Church of Canada on relations with Jews and Judaism in “Bearing Faithful Witness" and for our Muslim neighbors during Ramadan. As part of our commitment to Right Relation with Peoples of the First Nations, we try to draw on traditional Aboriginal teachings.
Worship teams plan and lead individual services, picking up on suggestions from the congregation. Since our minister is half-time, lay members enjoy many opportunities to preach, plan and lead services.
Services include singing – old favourites and contemporary songs from global and feminist collections - scripture, prayer, silence, tactile activities and body movement. Our hymns and readings use inclusive language that is non-sexist and non-militaristic.
Bathurst is committed to the participation of all generations in our worshipping. We don’t have a Sunday School, but we encourage children and youth to be present throughout the service. A round table, a focal point for our services, always has inviting crafts that the young – or young at heart – can work on during a service. Children and youth often share in a ministry of leadership by preaching the sermon, offering prayers and helping with Holy Communion.
The children offer the whole congregation unique contributions based on their ages and abilities. The spiritual formation of the children occurs by "osmosis" and through inter-generational activities during "Table Talk."
Child-care volunteers support parents with infants and young children, taking restless children out if necessary to play in the gym or do a craft in the church office. Most of the time the children are happy staying at the round table.
Bathurst usually celebrates Holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month. We use a communion liturgy developed by members on the congregation.
Baptism (Christening) is celebrated at Bathurst; for infants and for youth or adults, after suitable preparation. A blessing or welcome rite for an infant can also be planned.
Bathurst also marks the passing of it members with memorial or funeral services in consultation with the family and friends of those who have died.
Bathurst’s ministers are available for weddings.
We do not hold Sunday services during July and August. Instead, members meet informally on Wednesday evenings for a pot-luck supper and discussion. The mid-week gatherings are at College Street United Church.