By RON FANFAIR
Toronto city councilor Joe Mihevc, who is a strongly progressive Catholic with a doctorate in Theology, joined New Dawn Moravian congregation members at a special service last Sunday to celebrate the church’s 25th anniversary.
Mihevc lauded the church for its growth and success in the last quarter century and reminded the members they are located on a vital strip of the city filled with many diverse religious denominations.
“You are in a very important place doing your ministry because we have a very active and vital set of denominations in this area,” he said. “We are not a community of just one faith, but many faiths and that diversity is allowing us to say, you know what, in our faith tradition which is whole and good, we also make room for other faith traditions and that is the magic also of Toronto.
“We have found a way to live in peace and harmony and to value the integrity of other traditions as we grow in ours.”
Part of the proceeds of last Sunday’s celebratory service will go to United Theological College of the West Indies in Jamaica that Mihevc attended for two weeks while pursuing religious studies.
The seeds for the New Dawn Moravian church were planted in 1979 when Virginia Goodman, Gordon Sommers and Mavis Stephenson met with Moravians from the West Indies living in the Greater Toronto area to discuss the idea of starting a congregation in the city.
A steering committee was soon formed and now retired Bishop Stanley Thomas – following a successful first service in March 1980 – made recommendations for a church to be set up in Toronto.
“The vision at the time was to establish three Moravian congregations in Toronto,” said Thomas who returned from his New York home for the celebrations. “We have just one so far and my challenge is for the church to develop and extend its kingdom. I hope that the next time I come back here will be for the dedication ceremony of another Moravian church.”
Toronto Police Service chief, Bill Blair, who was unable to attend the event because of business commitments, sent a message that Constable Ojo Tewogbade read.
“I would like to thank and congratulate you for making a positive difference in the lives of so many people and for your tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for the community in general…”
Tewogbade along with Share reporter, Ron Fanfair, Barry Marshall and Lloyd Seivright and his wife Nadine were recognized with Community Service awards while a special award was presented to BME church member Randall Osborne who served as interim pastor at New Dawn Moravian.
The church also presented scholarships to Ameria Jacobs, Gershon Hutchinson, Pearline Rae and Rochelle Walsh who did not attend the event.
Hutchinson is pursing Business Administration Studies at George Brown College, Jacobs – who attends York University – aspires to be a teacher and Walsh is an esthetician.
Rae, a member of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, is pursuing Adult Education studies at Brock University.
Antiguan Rowan Simmons, who was installed as the officiating pastor at New Dawn Moravian just over a year ago, said last weekend’s celebrations – that included a banquet – exceeded expectations.