Successful Baby Needs Drive

May 2024














The Kirk has once again concluded a very successful baby needs drive, to support the Island Pregnancy Centre. This mission was begun at the Kirk in 2022, to support at-risk mothers and their newborn babies. The baby needs collected go into gift bags that are usually given to mothers on their one-month check-in visits to the Island Pregnancy Centre, but some items are given at a later date, if the nature of gifts is more appropriate for older infants. Many of the recipients are single mothers or mothers with limited networks of social support. This past year, Island Pregnancy Centre clients welcomed 140 babies, so the need is great.

Each year since its inception, this Kirk mission has been supported by a $1,000 grant from the Synod of the Atlantic Provinces. Those grants allow us to significantly extend the support we are able to provide to new Island mothers.

This year, the Kirk’s collection included: 121 articles of clothing; 18 boxes of diapers; 7 containers of baby formula; 25 packages of baby wipes; 9 Walmart gift cards for $25; 5 bottles of baby oil; 6 bottles of baby wash; 6 bottles of baby lotion; 13 baby brush and comb sets; as well as bath towel and facecloth sets, board books, plush toys, soothers, thermometers, rattles, assorted toiletries, and disposable changing mats.

The Island Pregnancy Centre was extremely grateful to receive all of these baby needs, which will significantly assist them in meeting the needs of their clientele. The Kirk wants to particularly thank Rebecca Wellner, who once again did the shopping for items paid for by the Synod grant, and for transporting all of our gifts to the Island Pregnancy Centre. She is pictured with David Robinson, making our delivery to the centre following the wrap-up of the drive on Mother’s Day.

Kirk Inclusion Committee Hosts Workshop

January 2024

Who is Welcome? | Workshop Led by Sue Senior (Elder, Knox Waterloo) Co-convenor Rainbow Communion, Special Committee of the General Assembly 2017-21

This interactive workshop utilizing various methods of engagement, will focus on the work of the General Assembly’s Special Committee – Rainbow Communion – as well as provide opportunities for questions and discussion. The hope is to encourage participants to formulate a meaningful response to The PCC’s Confession to God and LGBTQI People (adopted by the General Assembly in 2022) regarding the harm caused by homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and hypocrisy.

At the direction of the 2017 General Assembly, the Moderator (the Rev. Peter Bush) issued a letter to LGBTQI people and all who have been harmed by homophobia and hypocrisy within and by the church. Throughout the letter, the harms done to LGBTQI individuals were named and followed by, “we are sorry, and we repent”.

Congregations have been encouraged to begin living out this repentance and confession to be a welcoming community of faith. However, many have found themselves ill-equipped to have these kinds of conversations around addressing the harm done – and ensuring that harm does not continue – for those who identify as LGBTQI and/or their families, friends, and allies. This work informs and intersects with how we as a faith community can be inclusive of all marginalized and minoritized people. Our time together will explore ways in which communities of faith can be more welcoming to all.

Sue Senior | Workshop Facilitator. “Who is Welcome?”

As a retired high school educator who now works part-time at the University of Waterloo and as an Appointed Designated Minister with the Clergy Support Memorial Church, Sue’s has been called to leadership with youth as well as adults. Having served as co-convener (with the Rev. Dr. Bob Faris) of Rainbow Communion, (Special Listening Committee re: LGBTQI People) appointed by General Assembly 2017 – 2021) Sue continues to lead conversations around addressing the harm done – and ensuring that harm does not continue – to those who identify as 2SLGBTQI and/or their families, friends, and allies. Rainbow Communion developed a model to hold covenanted Listening Spaces that enabled participants to share their stories in a safe and respectful environment.

Sue married her wife Dawn Charlton in 2011 at their church (Knox Waterloo) where Sue is also an ordained elder and a Rep Elder at the Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington.

Those who wish to attend the workshop and the luncheon that follows, are asked to register in advance, prior to noon, Friday, January 19, 2024 by calling the Kirk office at 902-892-2839 or by email to The Kirk is located at 35 Fitzroy Street, Charlottetown, PE

ABC (Art, Books, Cookies) Sale, June 11 at the Kirk

May 2022

This spring the Kirk is trying out a new fundraising idea – an ABC (Art, Books & Cookies) Sale. The event will take place in-person in the Kirk Hall at 35 Fitzroy Street on June 11, 2022 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Last autumn, we held an on-line Kirk Ceilidh sale instead of our usual in-person fall sale, and as a result were not able to include one of our most popular items – the book tables. They will be back for this new venture, and filled to brimming with value-priced options for your summer beach and cottage reading pleasure!

After last fall’s sale was done, we still had a number of lovely pieces of art available as well. We have added many other pieces of art to that treasure trove for this new sale. We have everything from original oil paintings to limited edition signed prints of wildfowl, pictures of Flower Fairies just perfect for decorating a nursery, African animal art, framed porcelain vignettes of 18th century figures, and pastoral landscapes perfect to brighten any wall in your home.

Of course, we have a table set aside for our famous Kirk bakers as well. They will be whipping up dozens of delicious cookies to tempt your taste buds. There may even be a cake or two thrown in for good measure. If you have a sweet tooth, this sale is for you!

Finally, we will be holding a raffle for $300 worth of expertly cooked lobster. The tickets are $10 each, or three for $25, and there is a limit of 300 tickets to be sold. The draw will be held at the end of the sale on June 11, and the lobster will be available for pick up or delivery on Saturday, June 18, just in time for Father’s Day feasting. Given the expected elevated price of Island lobster this year, this may be the best and most cost-effective way to enjoy this summer time treat.

Tickets for the lobster draw, images of the artworks for sale, and additional information about the ABC sale can be found at: :

Please mark your calendars for this exciting shopping opportunity, and support the life and mission of the Kirk of St. James.

Kirk Collaboration with Island Pregnancy Centre

May 2022

The Kirk is working with the Island Pregnancy Centre (IPC) this year on a new mission project to provide support and encouragement to new mothers who are either disadvantaged or lack robust social supports. The collaboration will see these mothers and their new babies receive baskets of goods intended especially to help them through the first few months of life.

This spring we have collected a variety of goods that new babies need – everything from diapers and baby wipes, to soothers, baby clothing, baby blankets, toys, and board books. Our objective has been to collect sufficient goods to make up baskets of goodies for three new mothers, but the response has been excellent, meaning that we may be able to offer support to many more mothers than that.

The IPC is assisting about 90 mothers this year, so the need is great. We intend to hold another collection for similar items in the fall of 2022, in order to help at least three more new mothers along the opening stage of their parenting journey. We are fortunate to have received a Synod of the Atlantic Provinces mission grant to assist with these endeavours, so our own Kirk offerings will be multiplied!

We are delighted to be helping these new mothers celebrate their babies. We are also grateful for all of the support that this new initiative has received from the congregation. Its support for this new venture will make a real difference in our community.

Frances McBurnie Receives Honourary Doctorate

May 2022

The Kirk’s organist and Music Director, Frances McBurnie, was awarded an Honourary Doctorate by the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) during convocation ceremonies on May 12, 2022.

Frances grew up in Nova Scotia and has music degrees from Mount Allison University and the University of Western Ontario. She came to PEI in 1974 to fill a one-year appointment at UPEI and has been an important member of the University’s music program ever since. She is highly regarded as a collaborative pianist, organist, teacher, and adjudicator. She has been organist and Director of Music at the Kirk of St. James for just over 25 years. In 2021, she was named ABCE Contributor of the Year by Music PEI.

Asked how she feels about the award, Frances replied: “I felt humbled but very appreciative.”

“The degree is probably mostly because of my collaboration with young musicians. A great number of years ago I was privileged to work with an incredibly talented young cellist, Allan Kennedy. It was partly though that experience that I realized how important the work of the accompanist to allow the young artist to develop and flourish. Around the same time I heard a performance by a young musician who was not helped by the collaborator, and I hurt for him and for the unfairness of it. So I decided then that I would help anyone I could: a lifetime passion.” She has done so for decades on the Island music scene, being highly sought after and greatly valued as a collaborator with musicians of all kinds.

Frances’ passion for helping young musicians to flourish also led her to establish the Kirk Choral Scholarships, which offer an honorarium to up to four UPEI voice students each year. In return for regular participation in the life of the Kirk Choir, they receive mentoring from Frances and the opportunity to polish their vocal talents in a choral setting. Over the years Frances has raised thousands of dollars for these scholarships, principally through the staging of a summer concert series at the Kirk, which itself is often a showcase for up and coming musicians. These initiatives have markedly enriched the musical life of the Kirk, for which we are deeply grateful.

When asked about the highlights of her career, Frances quips: “The career? It is all highlights! I am blessed to do something I love…. The rewards for me have been intense: wonderful shared musical experiences, great friendships, and of course, the great satisfaction of seeing successes. ”

Frances was told about her Honourary Doctorate in May, 2021, at a time when UPEI was only doing on-line convocations, so actually received it in a very small ceremony at that time with the other recipients. Since the University was not making the news public last year, she didn’t tell anyone except immediate family of the honour until just days ago. Now we are delighted that the news is out, and that we can share our pride in her accomplishments with other Islanders!

Unmarked Graves at Residential Schools

July 2021

During the month of June, 2021, three horrific discoveries of unmarked graves near the sites of former Residential Schools have been announced. The first, near the Kamloops Indian Residential School in BC, announced by the Tk’emlứps te Secwépems people, was of an estimated 214 unmarked graves. The second, of an estimated 751 unmarked graves, was announced by the Cowessness First Nation near the site of the Marieval Indian Residential School east of Regina, Saskatchewan. The third discovery, announced by the Ktunaxa Nation near the St. Eugene’s Mission School outside Cranbrook, BC, was of an estimated 182 unmarked graves. Searches of other former Residential School sites for unmarked graves are taking place at the current time, and more saddening discoveries are likely to follow.

While all of the three schools noted above were run by the Roman Catholic Church, Residential Schools were operated by a number of Christian denominations, including the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In this context, the following Joint Statement from the Current and Former Moderator Regarding Residential Schools was issued.

June 15, 2021

We issue this statement of repentance and commitment to action today, aware of our own responsibility with regard to the sin of colonialism and our operation of residential schools, both of which we recognize today as instruments of a genocide against Indigenous people in what is today called Canada. The devastating revelation of 215 unmarked graves on the grounds of Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia leads the church to a time of listening to learn what is needed to continue its work of reconciliation, and so we have prepared this statement in consultation with the National Indigenous Ministries Council of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. We also offer lament, in humility, for the lives of all the children who were lost; those we already knew, those who were just found, and any more still to be found.

Living Faith reminds us that God is always calling us to seek justice in the world, and that justice is seen when we strive to change customs that oppress and enslave, protect the rights of others and protest anything that destroys human dignity. (8.4.1–3) Justice requires commitment and action. In 2019, The Presbyterian Church in Canada repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius—major components of colonialism, and in 2016 we committed ourselves to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as framework for reconciliation. It is in acknowledging these requirements and calls of our faith that the church commits itself to the work and repentance named here.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada operated eleven residential schools for Indigenous children, with the first opening in the mid 1880s. The names of those schools are: Ahousaht Residential School in British Columbia, Alberni Residential School in British Columbia, Birtle Residential School in Manitoba, Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora Ontario, Crowstand Residential School in Saskatchewan, File Hills Residential School in Saskatchewan, Muscowpetung (later known as “Lakesend”) Residential School in Saskatchewan, Portage la Prairie Residential School in Manitoba, Regina Industrial School in Saskatchewan, Round Lake Residential School in Saskatchewan, and Stoney Plain Residential School in Alberta. In 1925 all but two of the schools that were still open were transferred to the United Church of Canada which was established as a result of the Church Union Movement. The two schools the PCC continued to operate after 1925 were Birtle Residential School and Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School. Though the church first offered formal apology and confession to God and to Indigenous peoples in 1994 for our role in running these schools—places from which many students never returned and which caused emotional scars and trauma on generations of Indigenous communities—the harm from these schools and other colonial practices continues today and so too does our need for confessing. Meaningful apology and the reconciliation that can come of it requires listening to the Indigenous communities and families we have harmed, asking what work is needed for healing and then acting on it. The work that is required will change over time, as circumstances change; as more information is uncovered that may reopen wounds; as the depth of harm of colonialism is understood; as ways are found that the church can be an ally and a voice for justice again. The work required will change too as healing happens.

The listening required is also not a one-time event, but part of a relationship that develops over time. In listening, we have heard that even the children or grandchildren of those who attended Indian Residential Schools are more likely to have serious physical or mental health concerns, more likely to be taken from their homes into foster care, and more likely to attempt suicide than Indigenous children who do not have a parent or grandparent that attended residential school. This is because of intergenerational trauma,that can cause cycles of harm and broken relationships in families if not healed.

Hearing this, we have asked what we could do that would help heal that trauma; reconciliation requires no less. And in conversations with Indigenous members of this community, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, we have heard what is needed today:

We have heard The Presbyterian Church in Canada must work to ensure the grounds of the residential schools we ran—and especially Birtle and Cecilia Jeffrey, which we ran the longest—are searched for any unmarked graves. We must also ensure any search is taken in respectful consultation with the Indigenous communities and families impacted; this would include financial support from the church for those searches. We commit to this work.

We have heard that any work to address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools must also address the ongoing inequity faced by today’s Indigenous children, and we are asked to seek justice through advocacy for the rights of all Indigenous children. We commit to this work.

We have heard The Presbyterian Church in Canada must confront and address colonialism and systemic racism against Indigenous people in both the church and Canadian society. This systemic racism and colonialism shape the daily lives of Indigenous people in the church and in society in daily acts many take for granted, such as accessing healthcare, access to clean drinking water, equity in education, and equitable treatment in court systems. We have seen how this systemic racism has resulted in incidents like how Joyce Echaquan was treated before her death when she sought access to heath care, in significantly higher rates of violent encounters with police, and in significantly higher rates of child apprehension into foster care systems, to name just a few examples. As disciples of Christ, the church is called to work for justice by advocating for an end to these and other similar injustices against Indigenous people. We commit to this work.

We have heard that it is important to support the recommendations recently issued by the Native Women’s Association regarding ending the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well as continuing to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the Calls for Justice that stem from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We commit to this work.

Because the residential schools operated for almost nine decades, harming generations of communities, true healing and reconciliation will require a lengthy journey over generations and a great deal of work to heal that harm. The discoveries of unmarked graves continues to lead to unspeakable grief and ongoing harm in communities across our country. Reconciliation is a long road that requires acknowledgement of harm, apology for taking part in that harm, concrete steps to redress the harm, and the rebuilding of broken relationships. We are called as disciples of Christ to reconciliation and to justice; this is work the church must do and commits to doing.

—The Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott Moderator of the 2021 General Assembly

—The Rev. Amanda Currie Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly

Kirk Thanks Choral Scholars

April 2021

The Kirk Choral Scholars (L to R) Tara Llewellyn (soprano), Gaige Waugh (bass), Ian Solomon (tenor), Melissa Lewis (alto), and Music Director Frances McBurnie, on the Kirk lawn.

On Sunday, April 25, 2021, the Kirk enjoyed its last scheduled choral selection from its Choral Scholars, a magnificent Anthem, “Hear my Prayer” by Mendelssohn. Following the selection, David Robinson, the Clerk of Session, thanked the Choral Scholars for their many contributions to Kirk life, as follows:

“This is the last Sunday of this academic year for our wonderful Choral Scholars. So I want to take a few minutes to thank them, on behalf of Rev. Kay, Session, their colleagues in the choir, and the congregation at large.

“They have grown musically to a tremendous degree since they first joined the Kirk choir. We celebrated their accomplishments with them as they joined the National Youth Choir, and participated in many delightful recitals over the years. We have enjoyed their musicianship and companionship a great deal. We hope they are not leaving us forever! They will always be welcome to come back and join the choir, or join us in the pews. They can consider the Kirk home.

“Two of our scholars are graduating from UPEI this spring with their Bachelor’s degrees: Tara Llewellyn and Ian Solomon.

“Ian Solomon, who has completed five years with us, is receiving a Bachelor of Music degree. He has made all of our difficult anthems possible. He is a very capable and beautiful tenor and has been very loyal. We are hoping that he will pursue further vocal studies in Germany. (And drop in to sing with us whenever he can!)

“Tara Llewellyn (another five year scholar!) is our second graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree. We have watched her grow into such a beautiful musician and person. She has a perfect voice for the Kirk choir and is always willing to do anything asked, as in the difficult solo in this morning’s Anthem. She will be busy teaching, we hope on PEI, in the next academic year.

“Gaige Waugh finished his Bachelor of Music last spring, and we acknowledged that milestone last year by mail, because we were in lockdown and couldn’t do so in person. This year we were happy to have him come back for a fifth year with us while he did part time studies. When Frances McBurnie met Gaige to play his UPEI audition, she liked him immediately, and knew that she wanted to have him become one of our Choral Scholars. He has certainly fulfilled Frances’ prediction of his importance to this Church. He will be working toward further studies in voice.

“We hope that Melissa Lewis will return as a Choral Scholar in the next academic year, as she continues studies for her music degree. Her alto voice is simply the best and her musical skills are amazing. We will be delighted if she continues her musical journey with us, and look forward to her making major contributions to our worship services in the year ahead.

“I have some gifts to present to our Choral Scholars – some from their choir friends, and some from Session, on the congregation’s behalf. These gifts all come with our deep gratitude and warmest thanks for all you have contributed to the life of the Kirk.”

Our first (and hopefully last) Lobster-less Fundraiser

April 2021

As Mother’s Day approaches, friends of the Kirk usually turn their thoughts to the enjoyment of our  traditional Lobster Plate Take-Out. Unfortunately, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, we do not feel that we can successfully hold the Take-Out this year. We regret any disappointment this will cause. We are so grateful to all of those who crack lobsters, bake carrot cakes, donate fixings for potato salad, work in the kitchen, help plate the dinners and of course, buy tickets for the event. This year we are holding a Lobster-less Fundraiser in lieu of the Lobster Plate Take-Out.

We are asking our Kirk event supporters to consider making a one-time charitable tax receipt eligible donation for the value of their usual contribution to the Lobster Plate Take-Out. This could be $10.00 – the profit on one Take-Out plate, $20.00 – the value of a carrot cake,  $25.00 – the cost of a lobster dinner, $40.00 – the cost of green peppers for the potato salad, $50.00 – a contribution towards dinner rolls, or another amount that you wish to contribute. These funds will help to offset the lost $10,000 that we usually raise with the Lobster Plate Take-Out, and provide vital financial support to Kirk operations and missions.

Donors’ names will be placed in a draw to win one of three copies of the classic PEI book “Chung Lee Loves Lobster.” This is the story of a retired Chinese restaurant chef who during his career cooked many lobster dinners, but who in retirement uses part of each pension cheque to buy and release a lobster back into the sea. How “Lobster-less” is that!

You can drop off your donation in the offering basket on Sunday mornings, send an e-transfer to the Kirk office at , or mail in a donation to 35 Fitzroy Street, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 1R2. Please mark your cheque or envelope “Lobster-less Fundraiser” and include your offering envelope number or provide your full name and mailing address, to ensure that Treasurer Wayne McMillan can issue a tax receipt for the amount of your donation.  Your support for the Kirk won’t get you a lobster this year, but it will earn a heaping helping of Kirk love!

Christmas Joy for Ibtisam and Haneen

December 2020

Three years ago the Kirk joined with Central Christian Church and a number of other Island churches in sponsoring the Toma family (Joseph, Basma and their four sons) of refugees from Iraq. Last year we learned that we could also sponsor Basma’s sister, Ibtisam Toma and her 17 year old daughter Haneen Alnas, who were refugees living in Jordan. After months of planning, the pair finally arrived in Prince Edward Island on December 10, 2020, and undertook two weeks’ quarantine in a Charlottetown motel.

On December 23, Ibtisam and Haneen were cleared by Public Health to leave quarantine and take up residence in the apartment that is being provided to them by the sponsoring churches. Each of the assisting churches agreed to furnish one of the rooms in the two bedroom apartment – the Kirk volunteered to furnish the bathroom. During late November and early December we successfully received congregational donations of all of the shower curtains, towels, paper products, toiletries and over-the-counter medications that were needed to properly outfit the bathroom. Given the current COVID-19 situation, which could see lock downs occur on short notice, it was also felt that Ibtisam and Haneen should have a computer to connect them to the outside world and assist Haneen with her school work. Consequently, the Kirk also bought the family a laptop computer and accompanying software to put under their Christmas tree.

On Christmas day, the extended Toma family will be celebrating Christmas together for the first time in many years. It is sure to be a joyous occasion! We thank God that we have been able to play a small part in this lovely family re-union.

‘Liberation75’ Tulips Bloom at the Kirk

May 2020

A lovely display of salmon-orange tulips is currently enhancing the façade of the Kirk of St. James. The hundred tulips were planted last fall as part of a Royal Canadian Legion initiative to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian and Allied forces on May 5, 1945.

The bright orange tulips echo the national colour of the Netherlands, which is orange, in honour of the name of their royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau. The colour also nicely compliments the Island red sandstone in the Kirk’s Pownal Street façade.

Similar tulips were planted at 1,100 schools across the country, and have been accompanied by an education guide to explain the shared history between Canada and the Netherlands, including the role Canada played in liberating the Netherlands in 1945. A total of 1.1 million “Liberation75” tulip bulbs were planted across Canada last fall, in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who took part in the Second World War effort.

In September 2019, Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, presented an initial gift of ‘Liberation75’ tulip bulbs to 95 year old Canadian veteran Mr. Don White at Het Loo Palace. The gift was symbolic of the 100,000 tulip bulbs that the Netherlands will present to Canada in 2020, to commemorate and celebrate that it is 75 years since the liberation of the Netherlands. Mr. White was a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the regiment that liberated the Dutch town of Leeuwarden in April 1945, towards the end of a nine-month military campaign to free the Netherlands from German occupation. White is the last living member of his troop.

White described one of his main memories as the “joy” the Dutch conveyed as they were freed from German occupation: “They hardly knew how to express themselves,” said White. “They would be singing, they would be dancing. They’d be jumping up and down, they’d be crying, they’d be laughing. It was just something that’s hard to describe.”

That gratitude is still widely felt today. Canada is fondly remembered by the Dutch for ending the oppression under the Nazi-German occupation. Following the liberation of the Netherlands, a warm friendship was established with Canada that is still enjoyed today. These commemorative tulips are a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice Canadians made in Europe and the enduring gratitude of the Dutch in ending the reign of tyranny in their country.