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Rejoicing in Port Colborne
FALL 2021
   The Rev. Adam Bartha.
By Jane Thomas, The Gathering Place in Port Colborne, Ont.
Port Colborne, on the northeastern end of Lake Erie, Ont., is a commu- nity whose growth from the 1800s hinged on industry. The digging of the Welland Canal, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, brought ships and shipping services; grain eleva- tors and mills; and heavy industry— nickel and cement to name two. The industries attracted workers from all corners of the globe; as the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Peo- ple did, and Hungarians became one of the largest ethnic groups in South Niagara, arriving to create the canal and staying to smelt nickel, grind ce- ment, mill flour and build our diverse community.
Within the community, Hungarians established churches. As in many
places throughout Ontario, those dedicated congregations are clos- ing their doors, but their members remain active in the local Christian family.
In 2011, the First Presbyterian Church congregation in Por t Col- borne called the Rev. Adam Bartha as its pastor, a native of Nyíregy- háza, Hungary, and ordained in the Hungarian Reformed Church (HRC). The Hungarian Reformed Church and The Presbyterian Church in Canada have a long history going back decades, suppor ting minis- tries throughout Canada, Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. Adam had come to Knox College in Toronto on an HRC scholarship and stayed— our congregation’s good for tune and blessing.
Although Port Colborne is histori- cally quite a Scottish congregation, there is a strong Hungarian heritage, as well—including our Hungarian-
speaking Clerk of Session. We plied the Rev. Adam with hurka but also with haggis, with kifli and kalács, but- ter tarts and apple pie. And the fish- ing is good here. He stayed.
We grew in faith together, and we weathered storms, including the selling of our historic church and replanting as The Gathering Place, a storefront ministry (see Presbyterian Connection, Fall 2020).
So, when Adam decided to take the grand step into Canadian citizen- ship, “great was the rejoicing.” We knew he was working at it with a pas- sion. If you had him over for a meal, it was usual for Adam to throw strange and interesting Canadian facts into the conversation. And it paid off. He passed—perfect score, no less.
Celebrating Adam’s success would be essential, pandemic or no pandemic.
A Conspiracy Committee was formed. Plans were made, flexible
as we had no “swearing in” date. Members, adherents and friends were notified through our e-bulletin and sworn to secrecy. Adam never clicked to the fact that his email bul- letin was not the one received by eve- ryone else. The secret was kept.
But Covid combined with govern- ment restrictions presented challeng- es and the ceremony date was re- peatedly postponed. We decided that the show would go on—on Canada Day—with a potential second wave of celebration once we had a date.
On July 1, Adam was drawn out of his apartment, on the promise of a surprise, to find a sidewalk lined with Canadian flags. He thought that was the surprise—until he got to the curb, at which point a cavalcade of 20 cars drove by, making a joyful noise. He thought that was the surprise. But the last car was his dream car: a Cama- ro, one built for the Transformers movies and made available for char- ity appearances by owner Matt Cuth- bert, Niagara Furniture Bank. Adam jumped in for a ride. He thought that was the surprise. (You see where this
is going?)
But the pièce de résistance—the
surprise—awaited in our leisure centre car park, where well-wishers lurked, masked and distanced. Gifts and a Mayoral letter of congratula- tions were presented. Goodie bags were distributed. Pictures were tak- en—possibly more of the Camaro than of Adam. It was...special. Blessed.
A battery of cell phones captured the celebration, and an amalgam of videos and photos is up on our You- Tube channel—more homespun than Hollywood, but our own. (Google “Gathering Place Port Colborne You- Tube.”) We’re also still waiting for a ceremony date but that’s okay—we have rehearsed “Rejoice” and we have it down pat.
“So, then you are no longer stran- gers and sojourners, but you are fel- low citizens with the saints and mem- bers of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone...” (Ephesians 2:19–20 RSV).
that, “it has been a privilege and an amazing learning experience to have worked with Stephen on the Assembly Council. His depth of knowledge and his commitment to The Presbyterian Church in Canada could always be depended upon to provide guidance and ensure things were done decently and in good order. I know Stephen will continue to serve the church.”
The Rev. Adam Bartha celebrates Canadian citizenship with a ride in a Camaro.
  Retirement of Principal Clerk, the Rev. Stephen Kendall
 At the June 29, 2021, meeting of the Assembly Council, the Rev. Stephen Kendall, Principal Clerk, indicated his intention to retire following the 2022 General Assembly.
In a letter to the convener, Sandra Cameron Evans, Stephen said that it has been a “tremendous honour to serve our church in the position of Principal Clerk and Secretary of the
Assembly Council for what will be 24 years in 2022.” He also indicated that his commitment to doing all he can to assure a smooth transition to the next incumbent will include being flexible with the dates for an orienta- tion plan. He looks forward to both retirement and the ways he will con- tinue to serve Christ and his church.
In the process of appointing the
next Principal Clerk, the Assembly Council—the body that issues a call to accept an appointment—will con- firm the position description, appoint a search committee and invite pres- byteries to submit nominations. The Council plans to have a candidate ready for consideration by the next General Assembly.
Sandra Cameron Evans wrote

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