Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Local clergy took an hour out of their busy Christmas schedule to break bread with Rotarians today.

They were fed and feted at lunch at Trinity United Church, where the club meets Mondays at noon.

Rotarian Brian Ferguson and his committee invites more than a dozen ministers and pastors from the various churches and most were able to make it.

Pianist — and arts entrepreneur — Shannon Durnan provided musical entertainment, with a half dozen Christmas carols.

Trinity minister Allan Link welcomed everyone to his church and gave a mid-meal blessing to the Well Fed congregation, who also enjoyed a post Christmas pudding provided by caterer Annette Gillan.

In-coming president Pat Bongers introduced Rotary Education Bursary chair Ken Little, who accepted a $5,000 donation from Beth Cruickshank, whose late husband and Rotarian Jim Cruickshank helped start the fund that exceeds $1.5 million and provides almost $100,000 in annual interest for a couple dozen post-secondary school students to further their studies.

Rotarian Dave Reid noted, in his remarks thanking the clergy, that the bursary fund will in the future pay back much more to the community than the $1 million.

He continued by acknowledging the “exceptional efforts” of the liturgical shepherds who tend their Gravenhurst flocks and provide comfort and some joy at this of year, when so many require a little extra cheer.

“You see, it is not the favourite time of year for everybody …,” he said.

And that’s where the men and women of the cloth make the difference, he said, to the applause of the Rotarians.

See Reid’s remarks, below:

“I am here on behalf of our club to give thanks to our incredible clergy.

“To me, this is a perfect location for me to express my appreciation.

“And the first thing I am so extremely thankful for happened on Sept. 1, 1962 when a 19-year-old Bonnie Laycock and a 25-year-old Bruce Reid of Sutton walked through these church doors and were married by Rev. Bob McKay.

Then, on Sept. 16, 1995 Rev. Joanne Hills married a beautiful girl named Sheri Bunn and some future Rotarian named David Reid.

“So I love the fact that I can be here in Trinity United Church to express my gratitude 57 years after my parents were married here.

“For so many of us, Christmas is our favourite time of year. It certainly is for me. To me it is a time of wonderful traditions and shutting down from work and truly enjoying friends, family — and Christmas dinner.

“It is the one time of year when for the most part everything truly slows down. You take a holiday in the summer and the rest of the world is still rushing around.

“But Christmas…..almost everybody slows down.

“But you know who does NOT slow down — the men and women that we are here to thank today — our clergy.

“You see, it is not the favourite time of year for everybody — in fact for others it can be the most difficult time of year. People who have lost loved ones, those people who live alone, people struggling in general.

“Who do they go to? They reach out to you — the men and women who don’t really punch a clock and always seem to make yourselves available.

“I know you don’t do what do for the money. This is a passion that you have; a passion to help others, to help your community. I am here to tell you how much we appreciate your efforts.

“We truly have so much to be thankful for.

“As a Rotary club, we don’t always understand the impact that we have on our community.

“Since the incredible announcement of the $1 million donation to our Rotary Club to address issues with mental health to benefit our youth, I have been amazed by the number of people who have reached out to me or commented about it and how excited they are to hear the news.

“There are still elements to be worked out, but there is no doubt that this is going to be a tremendous help to our community.

“This came about because of the incredible success of our Rotary Bursary Fund and just think about the impact that fund has had on our local students.

“We sometimes take for granted what our Rotary Club does in our community and we do not celebrate it enough.

“And, also, we cannot forget the incredible work of Rotary on the international scene. I think of men like Jim Goodwin and Jack Huggett who did so many outstanding things on the international scene that I heard about when I first joined Rotary back in 1993, and who can forget Lisa McCoy and her exceptional humanitarian work she began in Cambodia and the surrounding countries with the Rotary Wheels for Learning.

“The same can be said about our outstanding clergy in Gravenhurst.

“I think sometimes we take you for granted and that is why it is so important for us to give thanks for all of the time and effort you put into our community.

“You are there to provide an encouraging word, a shoulder to cry on, often looked to for answers on things that don’t necessarily have an answer. You are such a tremendous support structure for our community.

“To put it in terms that relate to my profession of real estate, you are a big part of the foundation that our town is built on.

“We know how busy you are at this time of year and our Rotary Club is here to tell you how much we appreciate you.

“It is my privilege to be the one delivering the message here today; but believe me the entire Rotary Club of Gravenhurst is here to give thanks to you and we wish you the very best this Christmas season and to a happy and healthy 2020.”

Beth Cruickshank presents $5,000 cheque to Gravenhurst Rotary Club’s education Bursary Endowment Fund chair Ken Little at Monday’s meeting. Her late husband, Jim, helped start the fund for local students.
Gravenhurst clergy members wish each other Merry Christmas at Monday’s Rotary appreciation lunch. Front left, Pastor Paul Gibbersch, Lakeland Baptist Church; Rev. Allan Link, Trinity United Church; Pastor Tim Richards, Ryde Centennial Free Methodist; Father John Albao, St. Paul’s Catholic Church; Rev. Heather Manuel, St. James Anglican Church and Pastor Phil Tomassetti, Gateway Worship Centre. Back left, Chaplain Abraham Yones and Chaplain Doug Parrett, Beaver Creek Institution; and Pastor Sean Allen, New Life Pentecostal Church; Absent, Pastor Karen Tomasetti, Gateway Worship Centre; Lts. Kam and Ian Robinson, and Maj. Val and Gloria Redner, Salvation Army.



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