Problematic music video “O Lord” shot at Kirk

May 2019

On May 25, Island rap singer Greg MacDonald, aka “Problematic,” shot a music video for his new single “O Lord” in the Sanctuary of the Kirk of St. James. The song will be part of an EP he is soon to release.

The video shoot was produced and directed by Nathan Carter of Charlottetown’s Wrong Horse Productions, with support from director of photography Oakar Myint and key grip Kevin Gauthier. The team was very appreciative that the Kirk made its Sanctuary available for the shoot, and were very respectful of its sacred space. They made excellent use of its historic architecture during shooting.

Twenty-four year old Problematic raps about his depression and suicidal thoughts, and about the difficulties of modern life. An advocate for greater support for mental health treatment and awareness, he says that he has been gratified to hear from many people who have been helped out of a dark place by his music. Some have even confided that his music saved their lives.

“I use music as an outlet,” Greg says. “I don’t know where I’d be without it…. I didn’t know how else to cope with my emotions – any time I was dealing with a problem, music is where I would turn…. My goal from it all is really to touch lives with what I do, with what I write. And to help people the same way it helps me.” *

The chorus from the song “O Lord” is a cry to God for help with mental illness:

“Ask me how I’m doing I will say I’m fine

I bet that you would never guess that I was lying

I crack a smile but inside I am really dying

At war inside my head I think I lost my mind

Oh Lord, please come rescue me

Oh Lord, oh Lord come rescue me

I’ve been fighting with my demons so damn long

Oh no get away from me

Oh Lord, please come rescue me

Oh Lord, oh Lord come rescue me”

A fish plant worker by day, Greg has been steadily gaining traction with his musical career. He receives fan messages from all over the world now. His last album, Diamond in the Rough, was a real success, and Greg hopes to build on that momentum with his new offerings. They should be available to the public before summer’s end.

*Quotations courtesy of Sara Fraser, CBC News, January 2018

Lobster Plate Take-Out at the Kirk

May 2019
On Sunday, May 12, 2019, Mother’s Day, the Kirk of St. James will again be hosting it’s annual Lobster Plate Take-Out fundraiser.  This is the Kirk’s most important fund-raising event of the year, and goes a long way towards supporting the Kirk’s mission and outreach in Charlottetown and around the world. It is always well supported by businesses which donate goods for the event, and by patrons from the Charlottetown community, who enjoy the time-honoured Island tradition of giving Mom a lobster feast on her special day.
The Lobster Plate, which costs $25.00 again this year, consists of a one pound lobster, cracked for easy eating, home made potato salad, coleslaw, fresh garden salad, a bread roll, and the Kirk’s own carrot cake to top things off.  Meals will be available for pick up from the Kirk’s lower hall on May 12 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Tickets are available from Amy in the Kirk’s office, Tuesday to Friday, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Your patronage of this special event is encouraged!

Invitation from the Rainbow Communion

April 2019


Your Story Matters. The PCC is listening. Rainbow Communion is mandated by the 2017 General Assembly to host safe and respectful Listening Spaces across the country until June 15, 2019. All who wish to share their stories of harm done to them within and by the church because of homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism &/or hypocrisy, as well as experiences of God’s grace in ministry amidst those challenges are invited to share in person, by phone or in writing.
We want to hear your story. Contact us by April 30 to arrange a time and place to share face-to-face. Listening Spaces are being held from May 10 – 14 in Atlantic Canada.
1-800-619-7301 ext. 300 and are dedicated, confidential channels. You may also contact the Atlantic Canada RC member, Rev. Michael Veenema directly if you have any questions or would like to arrange to share your story. or 902-670-7590.

Click to enlarge.


Nakhleh Family Safe in Charlottetown

March 2019







The Nakhleh family of Syrian refugees are finally safely settled into their new home in Charlottetown, PE. They arrived after a two day journey from Beirut, Lebanon, landing in the wee hours of Friday morning, March 1, 2019.

The family has been sponsored by The Brother’s Keeper Refugee Sponsorship Team, which includes the Kirk of St. James and a number of other local churches, led by Central Christian Church. This is the second family that the Kirk has helped to settle recently. We supported the resettlement of the Toma family from Iraq a year ago.

Both George and Daisy Nakhleh were pharmacists in Damascus, Syria when the civil war there broke out. Their pharmacy and home were ransacked by ISIS fighters, forcing the family to split up – George escaping conscription into Lebanon and Daisy and the children, Mark and Lulu, staying for a time in Syria. They are relieved to be together again and in a safe place.

The couple’s cousin Bassel, a Charlottetown resident, advocated that they move here. “We wanted to be safe together,” said George. “They advised us to come to Canada. (It’s) a better future for our children.”

While in Lebanon the family shared small rooms, and had only one bedroom. So one of the immediate big changes for the family was having a two bedroom apartment. Mark woke up just hours after going to bed in his new bunk bed, provided by the Kirk, and started to explore his new room, decorated with African animals, and full of toys and colouring books. He immediately woke up his little sister, Lulu to share the excitement, and they woke their weary parents to exclaim over their good fortune. It was just like Christmas, with the children excited over their specially decorated room, and Daisy overwhelmed by the fully outfitted bathroom and kitchen, both furnished in good measure by the Kirk.

The Kirk held a toonie drive to purchase new car seats for the children as well. These have proven to be just the right size and are very easy to install in vehicles.

George speaks a good bit of English, whereas Daisy is more comfortable in Canada’s second language, French. The Kirk will be providing the family with an Arabic-English pictorial dictionary and the children with an English pictorial dictionary for kids, so that they can work on their English skills. George and Daisy both hope to become fluent quickly, and finish educational upgrading, so that they can find employment in their former pharmacy field.

“They are a lovely young family,” said David Robinson, Action Clerk of Session, after meeting the family during a welcoming dinner at Cedars Restaurant. “They have been so grateful for all of the assistance that The Brother’s Keeper has provided. It warms one’s heart to see the family so happily embarking on this new phase of their lives.”

Photo and Nakhleh quotation courtesy of the Guardian.

Kirk Introduces New Interim Minister

February 2019









The Rev. Dr. Kay Diviney will be temporarily leading the congregation of the Kirk of St. James, between February 1 and August 31, 2019. She is providing maternity leave coverage for Rev. Amanda Henderson-Bolton. Rev. Amanda and Chad Bolton had their firstborn child, Grayson Allister James, on January 22.

Speaking of her appointment, Rev. Kay said: “I regard the people of the Kirk as my church family. I am so grateful to be able to share worship and ministry among fellow followers of Christ over the coming months — especially for such a joyous reason!”

The white stole that Rev. Kay is wearing in the photo, above, was a gift of the Kirk on the occasion of her ordination in 2013.

Rev. Kay returned to Charlottetown a few months ago, after living and working for a number of years in Montreal, where she was the Associate Minister, and then the Acting Lead Minister at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. While there she conducted weekly worship, led many small group studies, as well as monthly Taize evening prayer services, worked with new members, and led confirmation classes. Rev. Kay also served as Interim Moderator at St. Columba-by-the-Lake Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Montreal.

Rev. Kay is no stranger to the Kirk. She worshipped here during the years that she taught English and Irish literature in the English Department at the University of Prince Edward Island, and taught the flute in the university’s Music Department. At the Kirk, Rev. Kay was a member of the Choir (2001-09), convened and co-convened the Mission and Outreach committee (2003-08) served on the Congregational Life committee (2006-07), and was both an Elder and Deputy Clerk of Session (2008-09). She also worked here as a Pastoral Assistant during the summer of 2011. Most recently, she provided our Advent bible study: “An Adult Christ at Christmas.”

Rev. Kay will be working for .75 time during her appointment. She plans to hold office hours three days a week. She can be contacted at:

A highly accomplished academic, Rev. Kay holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College, a Master of Arts degree from Arkansas State University, a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of British Columbia, and a Master of Divinity degree from Knox College.

We look forward to having Rev. Kay share her many and diverse talents with us in the months ahead.


Rev. Amanda’s Baby Boy Arrives

January 2019








On Sunday, January 20th, the scheduled worship service was cancelled because of inclement weather. It turns out it was also cancelled because Rev. Amanda’s water broke that morning, and she thought that she should probably go to the hospital. Two days later, at 7:00 am on January 22, her firstborn son was born! He arrived almost three weeks early, taking Rev. Amanda and the Kirk family by surprise.

Grayson Allister James weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. He was healthy, but due to a bit of jaundice spent a couple of days in the hospital before being brought home to the Manse. He is now at home with his parents, and is busy letting the dogs and cat know that there is a new boss in town.

Father Chad quipped that; “We’ve already started to read the Book of Forms to him at night and Calvin’s Institutes for his afternoon nap. You can never condition one too early, or so I’m told. We look forward to introducing him to you all in person over the next several months. Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate the world of parenting!”






Rev. Amanda was determined to go ahead with the baptism of Lucy Lefurgey that was scheduled for January 27, so led the worship service this past Sunday, notwithstanding her recent residency in the QEH maternity ward. That’s real dedication! The Session hosted a special fellowship following worship on the 27th, featuring a cake that said “Welcome Baby Grayson.” Grayson himself was not in evidence, unfortunately, as he was being kept cocooned at the Manse with father Chad.

It has been many years since there have been children residing in the Manse. It makes for a very welcome change. The whole Kirk family joins in offering a rousing welcome to baby Grayson, and extending warmest congratulations to Rev. Amanda and Chad. May God richly bless their new family in the months and years ahead.

Kirk launches “Renewing Hope” Capital Campaign

January 2019

On Epiphany Sunday, January 6, 2019, the historic downtown Kirk of St. James launched its “Renewing Hope” five-year, $1.0 million capital campaign. The campaign will raise the funds needed to weatherproof the building, restore stone and brick work, repair the church’s beautiful stained glass windows and provide new washrooms, including barrier-free facilities.

Campaign Chair David Hooley announced the launch, saying: “Our ancestors bequeathed us a very beautiful sanctuary here at the Kirk of St. James. This generation is now the Kirk’s stewards. During the five year process leading up to today we heard over and over how attached this congregation is to their Kirk. This campaign is all about breathing new life into both our physical facilities and into our Christian ministry and community outreach. We chose the campaign name and theme “Renewing Hope” most of all because that’s exactly what this campaign is all about: Renewing Hope. Charting a bright new future for the Kirk of St. James.”

Offering the sermon at the launch, Rev. Amanda Henderson-Bolton tied together the themes of the Wise Men and Epiphany Sunday, and the campaign launch. “It takes courage to start out on a journey like the magi did so long ago. That is part of the reason we chose to launch the capital campaign on this particular day. We pick up on their theme of hope and tenacity.”

Rev. Amanda continued: “I know that we are setting out on this campaign to fix up and improve our building, but it is about more than that. It is about a community who loves one another and loves God. It is about being at home with one another. It is also about the possibilities for the future. We will be working not only on the building but on congregational renewal….I trust in God, who has been with us every step of the way and who I am certain has surprises in store that we cannot yet imagine. Whatever happens, we have our faith and we have one another and at the end of the day I give thanks for that.”

Eight months pregnant, Rev. Amanda reflected: “I feel anxious about this baby coming and how it will shake up my life, my routines, and my sleep. There are tons of anxieties and questions and concerns. But more than any of it is the potential and excitement. I feel the same way about this campaign. I am nervous and anxious but more than anything I am excited to see what God will do with us. He has been working with us for nearly two hundred years and I know he is not done with us yet – we still have things to do!”

David Robinson, the Action Clerk of Session, expressed excitement at the campaign’s launch. “I love the Kirk because of the wonderful community of faithful people it represents, and because of the caring outreach it does in the community and the world. Whether it is serving meals at the soup kitchen, visiting seniors in their nursing homes, helping Habitat for Humanity provide needed homes for people, supporting the Salvation Army Helping Hampers campaign at Christmas, building a family farm in Guatemala, or helping to welcome a refugee family from Syria, we are living out our faith together. This capital campaign will help ensure that the Kirk remains a beacon of Christian hope on the corner of Fitzroy and Pownal streets for years to come.”

The Kirk of St. James was established in 1825 as the original Presbyterian church in Charlottetown. The current stone Kirk Sanctuary was completed in 1878, just over 140 years ago. The phased five year schedule of building restoration and improvement envisioned by the capital campaign should ready the Kirk to joyously celebrate 200 years of service to the Charlottetown community in 2025.

Those who wish to learn more about the “Restoring Hope” capital campaign or who would like to make a tax-deductible donation are invited to contact the Kirk’s office at (902) 892-2839.

Don MacKenzie appointed Queen’s Counsel







December 2018

Don MacKenzie, a Kirk Elder, has received the highly prestigious appointment as a Queen’s Counsel.

Presented annually, the Queen’s Counsel designation goes back to 16th century England, when one or two senior barristers of the High Court were entrusted with providing the Crown with legal counsel.

A Queen’s Counsel (post-nominal QC) is an eminent lawyer who is appointed by the Crown to be one of “Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law.” The term is also recognised as an honorific. Membership exists in most Commonwealth jurisdictions around the world. Queen’s Counsel is a status, conferred by the Crown but also recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the bar of the court and may wear silk gowns, thus, being appointed a Queen’s Counsel is known informally as taking silk. Appointments are made from within the legal profession on the basis of merit rather than a particular level of experience. Today it is a mark of exceptional professional aptitude and community service within the legal profession. Only three such appointments are made each year in Prince Edward Island.

“I congratulate this year’s appointees,” said Jordan Brown, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General. “This designation is given to lawyers who have demonstrated excellence in the practice of law and recognizes their contributions to the justice system as well as their community.”

Don graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island with a Bachelor of Science degree, and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Laws degree from Dalhousie Law School. He was called to the bar in 1992. He practised law in Charlottetown with Foster Hennessey MacKenzie for 15 years, working extensively with the Mi’kmaq community. He joined the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI as its legal/band government advisor in 2006 and the next year became its Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. He was appointed to his current post as Executive Director in 2014.

Donald is a former president of the Law Society of PEI. He has given valued service to the Kirk in many capacities, including his election as an Elder in 2008. The Kirk warmly congratulates Don on this exceptional career milestone!

Joyous Start to Advent







December 2018

The Advent season commenced in joyous fashion at the Kirk, with the lighting of the first candle on our Advent wreath, a baptism, the reception of five new members, and our Advent communion service.

The service began with the choir singing the anthem “Come, thou long-expected Jesus” by E. Daley. The first candle on the Advent wreath was lit by David and Valerie Toms, both Elders of the Kirk.

Following the Advent hymn, “Hope is a Star”, the family of Robert Robinson-Bartley-Crossley was invited forward for the baptism. Robert, who has been an active member of the Kirk family for about three years, was joined by his wife, Eleanor Robinson-Bartley-Crossley and father, John Crossley from Fredericton, NB and Dyer’s Bay, ON for the ceremony. He was presented for baptism on behalf of Session by his father-in-law, David Robinson, the Action Clerk of Session. Reverend Amanda Henderson-Bolton had to stand on tip-toes to reach Robert’s forehead to baptize him! It was a new challenge, as we see so few adult baptisms in our church, especially of those who stand six feet tall.

Said Robert, “It means so much to have taken this step with my family present. The Kirk has been such a welcoming environment for the past several years, and I am glad I get to be a part of this community.”

After the baptism, the choir sang the anthem, “Thou shalt know him,” by M. Sirett, and then the five new Kirk members were invited forward to be received. Joining the membership of the church were Robert and Eleanor Robinson-Bartley-Crossley, Katherine Burnett, and Josephine and Tim Rose. They all made confessions of faith and were presented with mementos by the Action Clerk of Session, following which they received the right hand of fellowship from all present Kirk Elders. More than a few tears of joy were shed as we thanked our new members for making the Kirk their church home.

The recepti0n of new members was followed by the Advent communion service, always a joyful and uplifting remembrance of our Lord’s life and his new covenant with us. It made an altogether wonderful start to the expectant and love-filled season of Advent.

Bells of Peace to Ring November 11

November 2018









For centuries, church bells have been rung to mark joyous occasions – weddings, coronations and the arrival of peace after war. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the First World War armistice on November 11, 1918. To mark the occasion, the Kirk and all Charlottetown places of worship that are fitted with bells, will ring them 100 times at sunset, 4:44 pm. Similar bell ringing will take place across Canada at local sunset time.

This ringing of the “Bells of Peace” is a joint project of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion. Says the Legion: “The Royal Canadian Legion was born from the ashes of the First World War. As Canada’s largest veterans’ organization and in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, we have been handed this torch of remembrance by our founders to hold high and to never forget the sacrifices made in the name of Canada and for Canadians. On 11 November 2018, 100 years will have passed since the signing of the armistice that officially ended [the First World War]. As a tribute to all Canadians that served in this horrific struggle we are producing a program of remembrance for those from that era — an event that allows Canadians, if only for a moment, to stop, to remember and to feel, perhaps for a second, the joy that peace brought after so much death and destruction.… Our hope is all who hear the Bells will stop and focus on the loss and sacrifice both on the battlefield and at home.”

At the Kirk, the ringing of the “Bells of Peace” is being organized by Heritage Committee member Ian Scott. He will be joined by a number of congregation members at sunset on November 11 to toll the Kirk’s bell and remember all those who fought and served in the First World War, and especially the eight members of the Kirk family who made the ultimate sacrifice during that devastating conflict.