Cliffs Notes: February 27, 2024

Black History Month & Scripture Reading

I have been grateful to hear about a few of the meaningful and significant initiatives that some of our churches have engaged in during Black History Month. For instance, each Sunday at Mississauga Grace an inspirational story is being told about followers of Jesus who despite great prejudices, suffering, or even slavery, have impacted our world for Christ. Last week, when Karlene and I were there, a young man told the story of the USA’s first black priest, Augustus Tolton.

First let me recommend that you take a moment to read his story. Augustus Tolton worked as a slave labourer in a tobacco factory at the age of 9, which was in the mid-1800’s. He said that his father helped the family escape from slavery. He experienced a calling into ministry, and bravely stepped into training for the priest hood. All scholarship he would study, the professors, mentors assigned him, opportunities he would be given in his training, were completely white. Before he died in his early 40’s he had grown a congregation from a handful of people to over 600, by ministering into south Chicago which was already, historically speaking, an impoverished neighbourhood.

Secondly, I will mention the young man who told the story. He had memorized it! He told the story in such a way that made it feel like Father Augustus mattered to him and should matter to us. I came home and read more about Father Tolton, not only because “Good Father Gus” is an inspiring and important leader in Kingdom work on this side of the world, but also because the young man compelled me by his own enthusiasm. Would I have looked up Father Tolton’s story had the young man simply read from a piece of paper, with his head down? Oh probably, because I had not heard of Tolton. But the young story teller, helped me pay attention, and feel engaged. He seemed to say, “this pioneer priest matters to me, to the Kingdom and he should matter to you!”

Thank you, Grace for leaning into Black History month. And to the young story teller thank you for your ministry.

This is not a far leap to Bible reading on a Sunday morning. I have traveled extensively these past 7 years. I have heard the Bible read by people who obviously had just been asked that very morning to read a particular passage. They did not have the benefit of the passage impacting them personally first. They did not have time to truly hear the tones and nuances of the passage so to know what to emphasize and where to rest. Usually it was rushed, sometimes mumbled through with little enthusiasm.

Just because someone knows how to read, does not mean that they are gifted readers, or better yet, gifted Biblical story tellers. This Word matters to us, and the opportunity in a public reading is for the reader to convey that it should also matter to us! Some suggestions if you are invited to read Scripture, or you are responsible to find a reader for a Sunday morning (you can thank my story-telling friend at Grace for this list!):

  • Make sure the passage(s) is in the reader’s hands early in the week;
  • Readers, prepare your hearts because, remember, this is the Word of God!
  • Read the passage(s) and re-read;
  • Sometimes it is beneficial to read it once in other translations so that you pay attention to meaning, wording and structure. It is quite easy to use Google commentaries to offer additional insight;
  • Ask the Father what the passage(s) has to speak into your life;
  • MEMORIZE whenever possible (remember, that memorizing Scripture is an important discipline anyway, let alone the research that indicates the importance of memory work towards brain-health!);
  • If memorizing is not possible that week, then resolve to use your notes very little. Head down reading is for your private reading times, not for story-telling, Scripture reading on a Sunday;
  • Back screen reading is acceptable when memory work is not possible that week;
  • Pay attention to punctuation: periods mean full stops, and comma’s are opportunities to rest. Exclamation marks are the stuff of enthusiasm, surprise, strong emotion, etc.;
  • Don’t rush;
  • If the passage is a narrative, a parable, or story with multiple characters, then find other readers to take on those roles – and be sure to practice (Zoom is a great and quick practice forum);
  • Pray for each person who will receive the Scripture passage.

Does Scripture need our help to make a difference in someone’s life? You know that I don’t mean to suggest that. My intent is to challenge the readers among us, to step into the supernatural, wonderful opportunity of presenting Scripture, because this Word matters to us!

To those of us receiving or hearing the Word. Regardless of the presenter, open your hearts to His Word.


Annual reports are due on Thursday, February 29th.  If you haven’t submitted your church’s report, please do so as soon as possible
Click here to access the forms.

Tuesdays: Cliff’s Notes
4th Thursday of each month: Church Health Thursday

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None this week

April 14, 2024 at 2:00 pm ET – Pastor Yves Anthonuel, Eglise Evangelique des Mille-Iles, Laval, QC 

2024 WESLEY CONFERENCE – The Living Word: Transformative Encounters with Scripture
Tyndale University in Toronto is hosting this year’s “pre-conference” event on April 24, the day before General Conference begins.

Rev. Dr. Jessica LaGrone, Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary is the keynote speaker. Dr LaGrone will give two talks centred around the theme “The Living Word: Transformative Encounters with Scripture.”

There will also be breakout sessions on a range of practical and theological issues, including preaching, parenting, prayer, grief, the problem of evil, and animal ethics. Free Methodist presenters include David Schuchardt, Joy McEwen, and Steve Tungate (FMCUSA).

The Lorne Park Foundation is offering to pay the registration for up to fifty Free Methodists (lay or ordained) to attend the conference in person.

​If you would like one of these free spots, please register here by March 31 (do not register through the Tyndale website or Eventbrite page):

​You can find out more about the event here:

Attendance at this pre-conference is worth 6 hours of required Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Ordained and Commissioned Ministers.

Register online through the link above (Tuition payment is not required when registering for a course.  Payment is due 10 days before the course begins.)

Lay Ministers tracking for credentialed ministry and those transferring ordination credentials into the FMCIC need to take the following two courses for full credit – and if possible, the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology.

Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
June 7-9, 2024 – location TBA*

Wesleyan Theology:
November 8-10, 2024 – location TBA*
(click here for other options to take this course)

Ministerial Candidates tracking for Commissioned or Ordained Minister are required to take the following two courses for full credit.  Those who are already commissioned or ordained are required to either audit these two courses for 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) each or take the two courses and complete the assignments for 3 CEUs each.

Culture and the Missional Church:
Date and location TBA*

Personal Stewardship:
5-week online course – Start Date TBA  

(* These course locations are selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early!)

The Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) provides financial assistance to candidates who are studying to meet the educational requirements for credentialed ministry, or for members of conference pursuing continuing education.

[PLEASE NOTE:  The FMCiC preference for LSP is for students to attend one of the approved schools on this list. However, if you decide to apply to a non-approved school, you must first send a request to the Credentialing Coordinator (click here for details).

October 15 is the next deadline to apply for LSP for any courses taken during the winter semester of 2024. The 2024 application forms and instructions are available to download from the link above.  Please use the application forms marked “rev 2024.”

The Special Scholarships provide financial assistance to those who are members of a Free Methodist church pursuing post-secondary education to grow in their Christian faith, to those who are pursuing credentialed ministry, and to members of conference pursuing continuing education.

October 15 is the deadline to apply for the annual Special Scholarships for courses taken during the 2024 calendar year – apply online anytime from the link above.  Special Scholarships are awarded in late November/early December each year.

Ordained and Commissioned Ministers (except retirees) are to annually report hours acquired during each year for Continuing Education Units (CEUs).  
Send a report online anytime you have hours to submit for CEUs:

Note:  For those who attend the fall Minister’s Conferences or the spring Regional Gatherings, attendance is now taken at these events so 6 hours of CEU credit for each event will automatically be recorded.



Brampton, ON – Bramalea FM Church
Brantford, ON – The Open Door Church

Marmora, ON – Marmora FM Church
Seeley’s Bay, ON – Pine Grove Community Church
Sombra, ON – Zion FM Church

Church Profiles Available
To review the church profiles that are available, please contact Lorilee Bishop in the Church Health Office at [email protected] – [deadline to apply in brackets]

Nepean ON – Arlington Woods FMC (Full-Time) [February 27]

Preparing Profiles
Once these church profiles become available, they will be listed above as “Church Profiles available” .

Belleville, ON – Belleville Centennial FM Church (Rev. Rodney Peterson retiring Aug 31/24)
Campbellford, ON – Campbellford FM Church (Rev. Leonard Bruce – Interim Pastor)
Cloyne, ON – Pineview FM Church
Dryden, ON – Dryden FM Church
Frankford, ON – Frankford Community Church
Godfrey, ON – Cole Lake FM Church
Kingston, ON – Kingscourt FM Church

Mississauga, ON – Grace FM Church (Rev. Steve Cylka – Interim Pastor)
Newmarket, ON – New Hope Methodist Church (Rev. Terry Gibson retiring Aug 31/24)
Orillia, ON – Church on the Hill (Pastor Velma Shewfelt – Interim Pastor)

Richmond Hill, ON – Richmond Hill FM Church (Rev. Louis Leung – Interim Pastor)
Tillsonburg, ON – Open Arms Church


NEW Associate Pastor of Connections – Chapel Ridge FMC

Part-time Worship Leader – New Hope Methodist Church

Tearfund Canada – Summer Internship Opportunities