Sunday, October 1, 2023

Surprise re-connections - Toronto 1)

When I posted about my old friend Noel recently, I mentioned how I first saw him at the Baptist World Alliance Congress in Toronto, 1980. And how I had been selected as a younger minister to represent the UK. When I returned from that visit, I made a couple of reports, one formal to my sponsors and another informal with slides.  When I recently found the latter in my files I read, with amusement, my account of the Sunday evening visit to a church. Members of my Cambridge Church had recently been to Toronto and they had given me a leaflet about a church they had visited - Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.  

It was on Yonge Street which I found was only half a mile away from my hotel. I decided to walk and gave myself an hour. Only the next day did I discover that Yonge Street is the longest street in Canada. I had at least three miles to walk.  A banner welcomed the Congress and particularly its women attendees for their special service that evening.  I went in gingerly and seeing the rows of hats, sat down feeling lost, only to be slapped on the back by the General Secretary of the Union, David Russell, who was supporting his wife and welcomed me to join them in their pew. 

The church building has (for a Baptist church) remarkable cathedral type architecture. Indeed, I was told it was the Baptist cathedral church of Canada.  With choir stalls and robed choir, powerful organ, sweeping aisles, high ceiling it was packed with 2000 plus.  I understood why my church members had recommended visiting it.

Afterwards we all moved onto the spacious lawns alongside the church for lemonade and cookies and was warmly greeted as an unusual younger man (I think the youngest present) who had chosen to be there!

And the CONNECTION - When I wrote that report I had no idea that in 1983 I would receive an invitation to be this church's guest preacher during a month in Summer. I never dreamed that I would be in Toronto again. With Carol and the boys we began a relationship that continued through the years with many visits to preach, and to give their annual preaching lecture.  Looking back at that report it is startling to realize how dear this place, this people, this lemonade on the lawn (the standard refreshment) would become to me through the years.  Who could have known.  Well, God did, who wove it into my story!  

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