St. Andrew’s marks 60th anniversary with joint service of Thanksgiving
On Sunday the 26th of April members of the congregations of St. Andrew’s Estonian Lutheran Church and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Latvian Church assembled in their historic church to mark a milestone. The two congregations have peacefully shared a home of worship for six decades. The congregants gave thanks for these years of friendship and common interest with a service of thanksgiving marked by music and amity throughout.
The history of this relationship comes thanks to the vision of two men of God. Forced by the ravages of the Second World War to leave their homeland behind, two pastors embarked on a long journey by sea from Europe to Canada. It was the beginning not only of a life-long friendship between Pastors Pello and Cops, but also the birthing of a relationship between two refugee communities who later became, respectively, St. Andrew’s Estonian Lutheran, and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Latvian, Church.
Both congregations began ministering to their people in Toronto sixty years ago, initially at First Lutheran Church on Bond Street under the auspices of the precursor body to today’s Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. In 1951 the congregations jointly purchased the former St. Andrew’s United Church at 383 Jarvis Street for the then princely sum of $140,000. The congregations retained the name of Saint Andrew as a renowned saint of the Christian Church for their house of worship. [Wikipedia has an interesting entry on the church complete with links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...) ]
Pastor Cops wrote of the joint dedication service on November 4, 1951: “The congregations held their first service in St. Andrew’s together. It was a kind of dedication service for our congregations. The hymns in the bulletin were in three languages: Latvian, Estonian and English. The church was filled to over-flowing with worshippers. The synod was represented by its president Dr. R. Reble and Pastor Jakobi. The latter gave an impressive sermon on the theme: ‘leave the country of your forebears and go to the land I will show you.’”
This past Sunday the congregations once again gave thanks with the representative of the wider body of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Bishop Michael Pryse leading the worship assisted by Rev. Kalle Kadakas and Rev. Ilze Kuplens-Ewart. And once again the hymns were printed in three languages with the order of the service in the lingua franca, English.
Bishop Pryse’s sermon was delivered with characteristic wit and affection for the worshippers. He focused naturally on birthdays, and their role in the life of a person as well as milestones on the path to eternal life. His greetings in Estonian and Latvian were flawlessly pronounced and the assembled were grateful for his observations on unity and belief.
The service was enriched by the performances of the united choirs of the two congregations ably conducted by Heli Tenno. A liturgical ensemble had been called together for this service; trumpeters Miikael Tenno and Reinins Kalnins complemented their joyous singing. Organists Marta Kivik and Davids Smits supported the singers and provided the backing for the hymns sung in all three languages simultaneously.
Thanks are due to the Readers of Scripture Jüri Silmberg and Talivaldis Kronbergs. The service concluded with communion where Guntis Berzins, Anneli Kusmanis and Ain Järve assisted the clerics.
Afterward the congregations assembled to enjoy coffee, kringel and other delectable comestibles while reminiscing over shared memories that affirm a strong partnership now six decades young.
Other anniversary celebrations are still to be carried out; the Estonian congregation at St. Andrew’s will note the occasion in their mother tongue on May 24th at 3 pm. That service of thanksgiving with communion will be followed by a sit-down table of thanks on the second floor hall of the church.
The spirit of partnership and working together in the name of the Lord at St. Andrew’s recalls the words of Paul to the Christian congregation in Ephesus: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6”
Honouring the past, greeting the future