The Executive Director's Diary


June 3, 2020 - Heartbreak

The heartbreak of these times is nearly unspeakable. I struggle to find words: yet another black man has died in police custody in the United States. This time, the act was caught on video and the world witnessed what happened. The terror of that scene reverberates among all people who have experienced fear, rather than comfort, in the presence of police and other public officials whose uniforms designate them as community protectors. When a person is maltreated by those who are supposed to help, when a desperate person becomes the victim of violence, when judgments about “what is really... Read More

  Hospital image

May 1, 2020 - Prudence

“I need to go to the emergency room.” I expected this; I saw the signs. I am, frankly, relieved, although uncertain: what’s it like in a hospital, even a small, rural one, in the era of COVID-19? I call the Black River Falls ER: “I’m bringing my husband in with congestive heart failure.” I give his name, his birthday. “When I get there, what’s the drill?”

“We will meet him at the door.”


We drive into the hospital parking lot. In contrast to the usual one bold red sign:

... Read More

  Easter, April 12, 2020

Easter, April 12, 2020 - Gratitude

The second morning of Easter, April 12, 2020, I am differently grateful than in previous years:

For an Easter feast: seeing the thumbnail faces of our children, their partners and our grandchildren on Zoom, and for e-cards, text messages, and FaceTime calls from friends;

For the work of clergy and laity who converted Easter week services to remote delivery as fast as the faculty throughout the University of Toronto rejigged their classes;

For the faculty, staff, and students of Toronto School of Theology, as they complete their semester’s work and transition to what... Read More

  Maundy Thursday: longing and virtual eucharist

April 9, 2020 - Maundy Thursday: longing and virtual eucharist

It’s Maundy Thursday in the Christian calendar - ne of the holiest days of the year in which the church remembers Jesus’ last prayers over bread and wine with his disciples. This incident and others led the early church to ritualize eucharist - the communal taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of bread and wine as the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Can we conceive celebrating Maundy Thursday without this ritual? Yet denominations are divided over whether, in a time of COVID-19, we can partake in eucharist virtually.

The Congregational Church in Elyria, Ohio, where I was formed as... Read More

  April 2, 2020 - Lamentation

April 2, 2020 - Lamentation

Emmanuel College, Afternoon Prayer: March 31, 2020

A paraphrase of Lamentations 1:1-5

How lonely sits the city, that was once full of people!
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among cities!
She that was a princess in the province has become a vassal.

Suffering God, we lament the loss of our everyday lives, the loss of the normalcy: classes, jobs, family life, worship.

The city weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her;

... Read More

  March 29, 2020 - Temperance

March 29, 2020 - Temperance

Is the person walking toward me a danger—or am I a danger to them?

Early this week, evidently I’d tossed in my sleep. I wakened to find I’d knocked my iPhone off the bedside where it was charging; it landed on the floor. When the phone showed “red zone,” less than twenty percent charged, I discovered the damage: the tip of the cable had broken off in the phone. I searched every cache known to me of old cables and chargers (we have several of them here and there): no iPhone charger. I looked up Amazon Prime delivery: April 20th. I called my husband for a new idea: “I’m... Read More


March 21, 2020 - Courage

For two days, I got distracted from opening my computer to read the “revised daily lectionary daily readings” during dawning. Early mornings, I find it easier reach into my soul and draw the living water that Jesus promised the Samaritan woman at the well. Not so once the day is filled with tasks, decisions, and screen time (which my computer tells me increased by 54% last week.)

In the afternoon, I find the page. I “scroll down.” The words and letters blur on the screen. I read, willing patience, unable to contemplate. I encounter a numbness in my soul, a firewall through which the... Read More


March 19, 2020

Balancing Compassion vs. Academic Integrity: Words of advice I have never forgotten that I pass on to you.

In 1987, my qualifying exams in practical theology at the University of Chicago consisted of five written and one oral exam. I wrote them longhand in blue books. I was seated at a wooden library table in Swift Hall, a building that looks amazingly like Emmanuel College: bring in no notes, one hour to outline, three hours to compose. Hand in your outline, your scribblings, your essay. I answered questions composed by five faculty members, all lovely and engaging people, far less... Read More

  Moon and Stars

March 18, 2020

The near-ideal morning: I awaken when the Quarter Moon shines bright, partnered with the North Star. Near, but not intimately positioned—rather, even these heavenly bodies seem to practice an awkward “social distancing.” Then, the pink glow of sunrise overwhelms the light of the moon, deepens to burning rose over a calm Lake Ontario, and yields to a light blue sky. Mercifully, thin cloud cover filters the bright heat of the sun that hammers my windows on cloudless days: the air billows. I open my door to the lake: a surface breeze creates soft waves caressing the shore, shushing my broken... Read More

  Pamela Couture

March 15, 2020

3:00 am

In my imagination COVID-19 rises like a specter over our horizon: “self-distancing” is the watchword. Can we in Canada interrupt the “chain of transmission” of the virus and avoid repeating the headlines we’ve read about China, Iran, Italy, France, Spain, the United States? My daily routine is upended.

1.  I will not be waiting in the morning dark at the bus stop for the 6 am Burlington bus, clip-clip-clipping through Union Station with other commuters from the GO train to the TTC, deciding whether to climb the five flights of steps at Queen’s Park Station or take the... Read More