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FALL 2020
ed LGBTQI+ inclusion, with Linda marching alongside fellow Presbyte- rians at Toronto’s Pride Parade. They were also involved with Knox’s Inclu- sion Initiatives team that was respon- sible for leading two recent Affirm! gatherings. Through the Reconcilia- tion Initiatives team, Knox has been building relationships with local In- digenous communities and leaders in response to the Truth and Reconcili- ation Commission’s Calls to Action.
In the wider community, Brooke served as the Protestant Police Chaplain for the Waterloo Regional Police for 11 years and, with others in the congregation, created and led worship services for local retire- ment homes. Adults and youth have joined Brooke and Linda on mis- sion and outreach activities, includ- ing Habitat builds in Romania and Nicaragua, trips to Winnipeg’s Inner City Missions, a Holy Land tour, an exploration of Celtic Christianity in Scotland and Ireland, and teaching English in China through the Amity Foundation.
The construction of Knox’s new church, which opened in 2011, was a significant accomplishment in the life of the congregation. The aging structure was replaced with a much larger, accessible, and welcoming building that remains in the centre of Waterloo. A lot of blood, sweat, tears and prayer went into this ma- jor endeavour, and Brooke and Linda, along with congregational leaders, guided the way. This open, flexible new space provides opportunities for expanded ministry, including Wednesdays@Knox, a weekly lunch and speaker program for seniors. Embedding digital technology in the new building enables live-streaming that is essential to maintaining wor- ship, programs and operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2014, Knox College honoured Brooke and Linda with the Distin- guished Leadership Award for their “unique and outstanding service and accomplishments to the church and society.” The award noted the renew- al of their church, youth programs and the establishment of community par tnerships.
After such remarkable careers, and more than 400 baptisms and 350 weddings, it’s time to wish the Ashfields well as they embark on a new journey together. Although they are retiring, God still has plenty for them to do!
You’re invited! Join the special Sunday worship service and cel- ebration of the Ashfields’ minis- try and retirement live-streamed ( on Sunday, Sept. 27, 10–11:45 a.m. (Eastern). Ex- pressions of congratulations and gratitude can be shared via the Knox website or church office.
if we can’t even...well, you name it. If “going to church” is a product we’re buying, the product is pretty low-qual- ity right now. The sermon was fine on YouTube, and the music was actually easier. But worshipping together isn’t a product for sale. It doesn’t have to make sense from within the mighty cult of individual consumerism in which we live. Our culture is divided on worship right now. For many peo- ple it’s a frivolity, a tolerated remnant of a less-enlightened past. For others it is acting out the most basic purpose of human life, to “glorify God and en- joy him forever.”
The truth is, we actually need each other in order to follow God. I do ab- solutely believe that the Holy Spirit can and does move with power when we are alone. God will sometimes speak in a still small voice just to me, just to you. It has been my experi- ence that much more often the Spirit chooses to move when we are to- gether. I pray better on my own if I’ve been meeting with my prayer partner. I read the Bible more faithfully in pri- vate if I’ve been talking about it with other people.
Writing this article in mid-July, most people at Paterson Memo- rial and Laurel Lea St. Matthew’s churches have not come back to worship in person yet; some are still watching online. Some people have been apologetic about that, and I have tried to be reassuring. Our country is opening up slowly and carefully, and services of public worship are a part of that; everyone needs to use their judgement and wisdom on when to go back out into the world. I do know where that apol- ogy is coming from though. People know that they are not coming to worship just for themselves. Other people need them there. Worship looks and sounds very strange right now, and it is a lot to figure out for a small group of people. It is so good to be together, though! It helps that “one hour of work,” and the rest of the week, make sense.
    Brooke and Linda in the church sanctuary, December 2019.
Reopening in Sarnia
By the Rev. Allan Farris, Paterson Memorial Presbyterian Church and Laurel Lea St. Matthew’s Presbyterian Church in Sarnia, Ont.
COVID-19 does funny things to time. March of this year feels like a life- time ago, or maybe it’s been two or three weeks. During those early days of self-isolation, I would constantly forget what day of the week it was. The lack of church services was a huge part of that. During the spring I recorded and posted services on Saturday, and it threw off my whole sense of timing. It’s a tired old joke that ministers only have to work one hour each week, but, wow, when that one hour gets taken away, it makes all the other hours of the other six days feel strange.
In early June, my two congrega- tions in Sarnia, Ont., felt as though they were settling in for a long haul of worshipping via screens. The Ontario government’s announcement that churches would be allowed to hold public worship services again (with restrictions) starting June 12 caught us by surprise. We were suddenly faced with three questions: Do we open? If so, How do we do it safely? And under it all, Why? Why worship together before a global pandemic is truly over?
We decided to open on June 21, and the How was relatively simple. Keeping attendance to 30% building capacity is unfor tunately not difficult in the summer, pandemic or no. We measured out two metres and taped flowers or angels to every third pew. We bought masks to hand out and put up the government-provided signs about symptoms of COVID-19. We pulled Bibles and hymn books out of pews and made sure everything was on the screen. We obtained Lysol wipes for the washrooms, gave guid- ance for greeters, read the guidelines, brainstormed solutions and made it happen. More difficult were the emo- tions around what we would have to leave out of worship altogether. “No distributing materials” means no com- munion, no breakfast program before the first service or coffee and snacks after the second, no time of fellowship before or after, no programs for chil- dren, and no singing, not even by one person from the front.
All of those “no’s” really force the question of Why? One person told me after the first service that it almost felt worse to see everyone and not get to really talk than it was not to see each other at all. Why worship at all with all of these restrictions? Why take the risk
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ministry at Gateway Community Church in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park where they served until 1989, when they were called to Knox Waterloo, commencing decades of caring, compassionate and fun ministry!
In Waterloo, they added a third child, Bethany, to their young fam- ily that already included Laura and Emily. All three grew up at Knox, participating in its many programs, including LOGOS. Brooke and Linda were instrumental in bringing this mid-week, relationship-centred min- istry to Knox, beginning 27 years of
programming for children and youth that teaches by example that “every- one is a child of God.”
The Ashfields instituted the Long- est Night service for those who find the holiday season to be a difficult time, as well as four separate Christ- mas Eve worship services, including an early, energetic gathering for little ones—with a real infant in the man- ger!
Linda’s passion for working with youth extended to PCC camping at Gracefield, Cairn and Kintail and leadership roles at Youth Trienniums and Canada Youth.
Brooke and Linda have support-
 Linda, Brooke and Session members at a 2009 groundbreaking ceremony for the new church.

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