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Community Service Scholarship
 By the Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott,
St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont.
Elder Robin Saunders of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont., is passionate about making positive contributions to the lives of young people. Robin was ordained as an elder when he was a teenager; this perhaps is one of the reasons that inspired him to create opportunities to recognize teens for their involvement in the community. In developing a five- year plan for St. John’s Presbyterian Church, he insisted that we include a scholarship program for secondary school students. And so we did.
Last year, we presented two awards for graduating students from Bradford District High School. One award was for the graduating stu- dent with the most community ser- vice hours who planned to go on to higher education, and the other was for the graduating student with the most community service hours who
Robin and Linda Saunders.
planned to go directly into the work- force. These awards were presented virtually this past June.
A small committee was tasked
with coming up with eligibility crite- ria for applicants of the St. John’s Community Service Scholarship. The idea was to reward young people for
their service within the church and within the community. Seven young people applied and all were awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Their applica- tions included a résumé, references and a description of their involvement in community service projects. The service opportunities listed included service to the church, in the areas of Children & Worship, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Board of Man- agers, special needs suppor t and community meals, as well to com- munity organizations, such as Scouts, student government, clubs, etc.
After our local newspaper ran a story about the recipients, our local MPP, Caroline Mulroney, contacted the church and asked if she might write a letter of congratulations to the students. She said, “It is truly com- mendable and worth recognizing.”
Here are their names of the stu- dents and the programs in which they are enrolled:
Amanda Cook – HBA Sociology at Carleton University
Kayla Cook – BA Criminology and
Justice at Carleton University Ashley Guay – MA Gerontology at Brock University
Amaly Inthavong – BA Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University Anastasia McConville – BA Commu- nications at University of Waterloo Jacob Reimer – MBA Business Leadership at University of Fred- ericton
Taylor Reimer – MSc Communica- tions at Purdue University
In a thank-you letter to the Com-
munity Service Scholarship Com- mittee, one of the recipients, Ashley Guay wrote, “Within our church’s walls I have prayed, laughed, smiled and cried. Our church has truly been a part of my growth, my strength and the development of my faith.”
Outside the walls of the church, she and a number of other young people have excelled in the area of community service. And, thanks to the vision of an elder like Robin Saun- ders, they have been helped with their education so that they might continue to serve others.
   Living Christmas Tree in Lindsay
 Submitted by Connie Shannon (Chair), Joy McMillan, Sally Rogers and Joye Daniels, the Living Christmas Tree Committee of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Lindsay, Ont.
Since December of 1982, St. An- drew’s Presbyterian Church in Lind- say, Ont., has begun the Christmas season with “The Living Christmas Tree.” This annual service takes place in late November/early De- cember, and is presented six times, on two consecutive weekends. “The Tree” has become well-known in the town of Lindsay and surrounding ar- eas, as well as further afield. Folks in Lindsay refer to our church on Wil- liam Street as “the church that has the Tree!”
The Living Christmas Tree is a 40-foot-high wooden structure built at the front of the sanctuary each year. It is covered with artificial green boughs and “decorated” with about 7,000 lights in colours of green, red, blue and gold. Additionally, there are icicle lights, plus twinkle lights around the framework of the Tree. There are five levels to the Tree, on which the choir stands. During the singing of the cantata, the lights change colours and vary in intensity to visually enhance the meaning of the words, scripture and narration.
Each year, the committee chooses a new cantata, with the exception of three years when a cantata was re- peated. We spend much time listening to several works of music to ensure we choose the “right one”—one that tells the story of Jesus’ birth, includ- ing the people of Israel waiting and praying for a Saviour, the angel ap- pearing to Mary and Joseph, the jour- ney to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in a lowly stable, the angels appearing to shepherds, the wise men worshipping the infant King. As well, we are mind- ful to include Jesus’ death on a cross, so that we may be saved.
Normally, by this time of year, the committee would have listened to many different new cantatas and made our selection, and the 60-voice choir would be in rehearsals. But, in 2020, how do we practice when we can’t be in our sections, hear- ing each other and supporting each other? How do we have “get to know you” times? Most importantly, how do we put 60 people in the Tree, and, for each presentation, have 18 ushers, 10 safety people, audio and visual people, lighting people, plus childcare, and keep everyone safe? As well, the usual attendance for each service is 525 people. It is very obvious that an event such as this simply could not proceed during
COVID-19, and with regret, our 2020 Living Christmas Tree Presentations were cancelled.
However, this decision doesn’t mean we cannot fulfill our vision for the Tree, which is: “We want to reach out to our non-churched community, and reach in to our church family using their gifts and talents, by pre- senting the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and non-threatening way, to the Glory of God” (August 2015).
It is our feeling that this year, per- haps more than ever, people are in need of a message of hope, and of love. With that in mind, we are work- ing to produce a virtual Christmas tree. Our presentation for 2020 will not be given from our sanctuary with the 40-foot-tall “Living Tree,” but by means of technology. It will be a video compilation of previous Living Christmas Tree presentations, along with narration and scripture, with visual backgrounds and im- ages. This video will be available on our YouTube channel, as well as on our church Facebook page. For fur- ther information and dates of the vir- tual presentations, please check our website at living-christmas-tree as well as our Facebook page: drewsLindsay.
It is our prayer that viewers will
enjoy and be blessed by our vir- tual tree this Christmas, and find a measure of love, joy, comfort and peace in the midst of this pandemic.
The format is certainly different, but the wonderful story of our Lord, coming to earth to die for us, never changes or grows old.

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