Category Archives: News

Missing in Action

picture of Alexis Helmer

Alexis Helmer

You may notice that the Cushman Roll of Honour is missing from the sanctuary. With the permission of the Session, it is temporarily on loan to the Canadian War Museum for consideration for inclusion in a First World War commemorative exhibition. One of the names on the Roll is that of Alexis Helmer, whose death aged 22 at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 inspired John McCrae’sfamous poem “In Flanders’ Fields.” The following is from the Canadian Great War Project website.

“Son of Elizabeth I. Helmer, of 122, Gilmour St., Ottawa, and the late Brig. Gen. R. A. Helmer. The following circumstances of his death have been compiled from letters received by Lieut Owen Carsley Frederic Hague’s father, Frederic Hague from officers in the area at the time. Early on Sunday morning, May 2, 1915 Lieutenants’ Hague and Helmer left their position to check on a Canadian Battery who had positioned themselves on the bank of the Yser Canal near St. Julien close to the France-Belgium border. They had only gone a few yards when a six inch, high explosive canon shell burst. Lieut. Helmer was killed instantly. Lieut. Helmer was a close friend of Capt. John McCrae and was the inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”.”

Pre-Authorized Remittance Programme (PAR)

What Is Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR)?
You are about to go on holiday. You have had the mail and the newspaper stopped. Norma from next door will check on the house and feed Felix the cat. Your lights are on timers. Everything is ready for your month away.

But what about our church? We have ongoing expenses and rely on your generosity even when you’re away. Well, that’s no problem if you have joined the Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) program for St Giles. With PAR, you can give to St Giles and the wider church even when you aren’t home or cannot attend worship every Sunday.

If you have automatic debits going from your bank account to pay for insurance, hydro, telephone or cable, then you understand the PAR principle. It means regular contributions throughout the year. Over 300 Presbyterian congregations currently use PAR using a system set up by the United Church of Canada. It’s an easy way to make your contribution. Once a month, a set sum of money is deducted from your bank account or credit card to support our congregation, Presbyterians Sharing and PWS&D. Your account will be debited on or about the 20th of each month and our congregation’s account credited with the amount payable from all members who participate.

How to get involved:
1) Decide on the amount of your monthly offering (Church Operations, Presbyterians Sharing, and Presbyterian World Sharing & Development).
2) Fill in the Authorization Form (attached) and attach a cheque from your bank account marked “Void”.
3) Place the form and cheque in an envelope on the offering plate or send it in to the Church office.
4) Each week when you are in church, you may indicate your participation in PAR by placing one of the provided PAR tokens in the offering plate during the offering. These tokens will be available for pick up on a plate at the back of the Church.

How do you change the amount of your offering, change to a different bank account, or cancel your PAR?
All changes should go through the Church Office. Rob Brandon, a member of the Interim Finance and Maintenance Committee, is responsible for managing the PAR process. Rob will have forms to make additions, changes and deletions to the system. When there is a change in banks or account numbers, a new voided cheque must be provided. Any changes must be in the Church Office by the 5th of the month to take effect that month.

Who is responsible for tax receipts?
The Office Administrator still does the tax receipts. The United Church of Canada administers the program for the congregation. A printout is sent to the Office Administrator each month for record-keeping purposes.

How much does PAR cost the congregation?
The PAR program costs the congregation 50¢ per giver, per month up to a maximum of $45, which is deducted at the time of transfer. This helps to defray administrative costs incurred by the United Church. This fee is much less than what our bank charges at present to process your donations. Individuals will still pay the normal chequing/debit fees to their local bank or credit union.

To receive a PDF of the application form, please contact the office at

Letter of thanks from Centretown Emergency Food Centre

December 31, 2013

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the CentreIown Emergency Food Centre, I am writing to thank you for the generous donations of $1359.30 and an additional $305 to our Food Centre, that was raised at the Cameron Highlanders concert that your church hosted. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank not only your church members but Mr. Don Tate for the phenomenal amount of work that went into organizing this concert. This was the largest amount of monies that we received from a single fundraiser in 2013. Bless you.

This contribution will help us purchase perishable food items, such as ground beef and fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement the staple foods that we receive from the Ottawa Food Bank and our local food drives. This enables us to offer a healthy five-day supply of food to each client, according to family size, on a monthly basis.

In 2013, the number of clients we are serving per month is rising and the Food Centre is currently serving an average of 980 people a month and we are again expecting to see a higher monthly increase next year. We spent over $110,000 on food in 2013. This higher food cost is the result of an increase in client base and a decrease in donations and this is why your donation is so appreciated.

We are currently seeing a drastic increase in the number of families that we are serving, notably a 41% increase in children, and would not be able to give the amount of meat, fruit and produce we are giving out without your help. Again, many thanks for your generous contribution to our work on behalf of the needy and marginalized in our community.

We are anticipating another increase in client base in 2014 due to the increase in hydro rates. We know that with support from churches like yours and the power of prayer we will again be able to meet the need. Happy New Year.


Kerry Kaiser

Centretown Emergency Food Centre
507 Bank Street
Ottawa ON K2P 1Z5


Christmas Concert

On December 8, 2013, St Giles hosted a Christmas Concert featuring:

  • Men and Boys of St Matthews Church
  • Girls Choir of Christ Church Cathedral
  • Concert Choir of Glebe Collegiate
  • The Glebelles
  • The Kevin Hassell Strings and Flutes

The final piece had all the musicians and the audience singing the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah by G.F. Handel. This video gives a snippet of that event.

Advent 2013 Pastoral Letter

November 26, 2013

Greetings in the name of the Lord;

As the season of preparation is upon us, and the start of a New Year is almost upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to bring everyone up to date on the events and activities happening at St Giles.

This Sunday, December 1, St Giles will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Rev. Dr Stephen Hayes will be our celebrant. The loose offering collected at this service will go to the Session Benevolent Fund and will be used to assist children from St Giles who wish to attend Gracefield Camp in the summer of 2014.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas music. Plan to attend not one but two concerts being held at St Giles. On Wednesday, December 4, at 7 p.m., the Pipes and Drums of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa will present a Benefit Concert in support of the Centertown Emergency Food Centre. Admittance is free. Donations of food would be greatly appreciated.

On December 8 at 2 p.m., there will be a Christmas Variety Concert featuring Garth Hampson, Kevin Hassell Strings, and choristers from Christ Church Cathedral, St Matthew’s Church and Glebe Collegiate choirs. This will be an entertaining Christmas concert for all ages. Pay what you can (suggested donation of $15 for adults).

Please remember, music isn’t just for Christmas. If you would like more opportunities to share the gift of music, the choir of St Giles is always looking for new members. Rehearsals are on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please speak to our organist Brenda Beckingham.

If you love hymns, but perhaps singing isn’t quite your style, the Circle of Light is currently focusing on Praying through the Hymns. They meet in the Banquet Hall for a time of prayer, discussion and fellowship on Fridays at 10 a.m.

One last segue, if you would like to gather for prayer and discussion but are leaning more towards Bible Study than hymns, the Bible Study group meets on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. in the Choir Room. They are currently studying the Book of Revelation. If you are more Mission minded, the Presbyterian Women’s Association meets the first Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. for a bag lunch with the meeting starting at 1 p.m., and yes men are welcome.

On the Sunday before Christmas, December 22, Dorothy Herbert is organizing a Christmas pageant. Through drama, scripture, music and singing, hear the ancient story told of the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, whose advent changed the world forever! She is actively recruiting volunteers to work on and off stage. This is a wonderful opportunity to help make the story come alive for others. Please contact Dorothy (call the office for her contact information).

Our first Christmas Eve Service since the re-opening of the sanctuary will be on December 24 at 7:30 p.m. Dr Stephen Hayes will lead St Giles in a celebration of the birth of Jesus through carols and readings.

As St Giles moves towards 2014, we are making plans for the future ministry of this congregation. As a result of the congregational meeting held on October 27, we have formed a Future Planning Committee with representatives from different areas of church life. This committee will look at different options for future ministry at St Giles and explore possible avenues of financing that ministry. The Committee plans to report back its finding to a congregational meeting to be held in late January or early February.

Serving on this committee are Interim Moderator, the Rev. Susan Clarke; Assessor Elder, Sandra Currie; Interim Treasurer, Kate Ferguson; and representatives from the congregational groups: Interim Finance and Maintenance, Rob Brandon; Trustees, Don Tate; Ladies Group, Jean McNally; Choir, Kaye Tate; and Congregational Representatives, Jean Currie and Isaac Ives.

At a further congregational meeting held November 24; those gathered discussed ideas about the shape of future ministry at St Giles as well as activities and events that might draw in more people to our congregation or ways we can serve the community better.

In February, Christine Ball, our regional staff person, will lead a workshop on the roles and responsibilities of the Session, the Finance and Maintenance Committee, and the Trustees. This event is open to everyone. In the new year watch for more information in the bulletin and on our website.

As 2013 draws to a close, we give thanks to God for all the wonderful gifts God has bestowed on us. We are thankful for all the people who have worked tirelessly for our Lord on St Giles behalf. Special thanks to Sandra Currie, Tim Visser and Wayne Beaten, our assessor elders; Dorothy Herbert and the Rev. William Ball, our Session Advisors; Dorothy Herbert, ODM, Dr. Stephen Hayes, the Rev. David Stewart and Christine Ball, ODM, our worship leaders; Alan Herbert, our Finance Advisor; Kate Ferguson, our interim Treasurer; Patricia Brush, St Giles’s administrator and book keeper; Roger White, Isaac Ives and Rob Brandon, our Interim Finance and Maintenance Committee; Brenda Beckingham, our organist; Desmond Hassell, our choir director; Patty Fraser, our Church School Coordinator, Jean Currie, our Interim Rental Coordinator; Ian Stevenson, Moira Hassell and Kaye Tate, our Interim Pastoral Care Team; Don Tate, Rob Brien and Helen Lister, our trustees; Stuart Gentle and the greeters he coordinates and Jane Evans and the scripture readers she coordinates, offering counters, elevator helpers, sound techs and to all those who work quietly in the service of our Lord at St Giles and in the Glebe.

On behalf of the Assessor Session of St Giles, I wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmases and a Blessed New Year.

Yours in Christ
Susan V. Clarke
Interim Moderator
St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Ottawa

Pastoral Letter

August 11, 2013

Greetings in the name of the Lord;

I would like to begin by thanking you for your continued faithfulness in serving our Risen Lord in the Glebe community and your commitment to the survival of St. Giles. The assessor Session has worked diligently since their appointment to assist St. Giles through this period of transition. We have made great efforts to implement the recommendations made by the Presbytery of Ottawa. We feel, at this time, that it is important that the friends and members be made aware of our progress thus far and to encourage you in the work yet to be done.

Finance and Maintenance

1. We are pleased to announcement the appointment of Kate Ferguson as Interim Treasurer for St. Giles, and Roger White, Isaac Ives and Rob Brandon as the Interim Finance and Maintenance Committee. Under their guidance, it is the hope of the Session that many of the upgrades, repair projects, and ongoing maintenance will be addressed.

2. We are also pleased to report the appointment of Jean Currie as Interim Rental Coordinator. By having one person looking after promoting St. Giles as an excellent meeting location, we can regain some of the income lost through declining rentals.

3. We are also happy to report that St. Giles’s financial situation shows signs of improvement over the past few months. This news is tempered by the fact that a $20,000 infusion of cash was required from the investments and there are a number of outstanding repairs that need to be done on Logan-Vencta Hall and the Church. We add a quiet reminder that, although the finances appear to be improving, St. Giles is dependent on your ongoing generosity. If you are able, please consider submitting post-dated cheques to the church office for those Sundays when you know you are going to be away.

4. We are looking at the overall maintenance of St. Giles. We share your concerns over the cleanliness and general appearance of Logan-Vencta Hall and the Church proper. In the next few weeks, the Session and the Finance and Maintenance Committee will be deciding how to address this concern.

Pastoral Care

Because of the difficult financial situation St. Giles is in, we regret to report that we have terminated the position of Pastoral Support Worker. We give heartfelt thanks to Romizah Walter for her work on this congregation’s behalf and wish her well in her future endeavours. In her place, the Session has established an Interim Pastoral Care Team of Moira Hassell, Ian Stevenson, and Kaye Tate. They will be working in conjunction with the Session and the Rev. Clarke to continue this important ministry of St. Giles.

Christian Education

1. The Session, with congregational support, is preparing the Church School and Nursery for the Fall. St. Giles is blessed to have a comfortable space set up near the back of the sanctuary with a rocking chair and a few toys if parents wish to keep their children in the service with them. To attract and keep young families, we need to make available to them a loving Nursery Care and a solid Christian Education Program. We understand that the Church School space has already received a quick revamp and teacher recruitment has begun.

2. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the Wednesday morning Bible Study, while taking a summer break, will resume in the fall with a study of the book of Revelation. Also the “Circle of Light” prayer group is continuing under the leadership of Patricia Brush at the Roast ‘n’ Brew, Bank and Fifth, on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

3. We are also interested in pursuing other educational opportunities as they arise.

Worship and the Sacraments

1. St. Giles has been blessed by the faithful preaching of Christine Ball, Dorothy Herbert and Peter Rombeek. The Rev. David A. Stewart (CF Chaplain seconded to the Recruiting Section of the Chaplain General’s Office) will conduct the Sacrament of Communion on October 6 (World Wide Communion) and Dr. Stephen Hayes will conduct the Sacrament of Communion on December 1 (Advent).

2. Our worship services have been blessed by the musical gifts of our volunteer organist, Desmond Hassell, who started a choir this spring, and brought in a number of vocal and instrumental soloists to enrich the worship experience.


Our administrator, Patricia Brush, has taken over maintenance of the St. Giles website from Romizah Walter. We are working on upgrading the site to provide more information to newcomers and members.

Congregational Meeting

We are working towards a September congregational meeting to present the audited financial statements. We will also use this opportunity to get more direction on upcoming concerts and activities.

Your role

In the coming months, the Session of St. Giles will be asking the few to do more. Whatever your talents and gifts, please share them with us. If St. Giles is to thrive, we will need your input and your time. We are open to suggestions of ways we can attract new people to St. Giles, as well as nurture and support our current members and friends.


Special thanks to Patricia Brush, St. Giles’s administrator and book keeper; our assessor elders: Sandra Currie, Tim Visser and Wayne Beaten; our Session Advisors: Dorothy Herbert and the Rev. William Ball; our Representatives from the Presbytery of Ottawa Finance and Maintenance Committee: Clint Gaebel and Stuart McLeod; Desmond Hassell, our organist; and to those who have taken on new responsibilities at St. Giles.

The next few months are crucial to the life and ministry of St. Giles. Your prayerful support and encouragement are paramount.

Yours in Christ,

Susan V. Clarke
Interim Moderator
St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Ottawa

National Aboriginal Day of Prayer

Aboriginal Sunday 1

On Sunday, June 16, St Giles celebrated National Aboriginal Day of Prayer.

We confess that, with the encouragement and assistance of the Government of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada agreed to take the children of Aboriginal peoples from their own homes and place them in residential schools. In these schools, children were deprived of their traditional ways, which were replaced with Euro-Canadian customs that were helpful in the process of assimilation. To carry out this process, The Presbyterian Church in Canada used disciplinary practices which were foreign to Aboriginal peoples, and open to exploitation in physical and psychological punishment beyond any Christian maxim of care and discipline. In a setting of obedience and acquiescence there was opportunity for sexual abuse, and some were so abused. The effect of all this, for Aboriginal peoples, was the loss of cultural identity and the loss of a secure sense of self. For the Church’s insensitivity we ask forgiveness.

As part of the policy of the Government of Canada to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into the Euro-Canadian culture we, with other churches, encouraged the government to ban some important spiritual practices through which Aboriginal peoples experienced
the presence of the creator God. For the Church’s complicity in this policy we ask forgiveness.

Gracious God, we know that we are called to respect all of your creation and all nations of your people. We know we are called by you to love as we journey through this life. Forgive us where we have failed in our relations with others and with your entire creation. Help us to learn from our mistakes and to have courage to move forward, free of guilt. Amen.

Photo credit: Fiona Currie