A new commandment I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.

(John 13:34 & 35)

Greetings to the Grace United Church Community!

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the third anniversary of the week the pandemic caused Grace – along with most churches in Canada – to suspend in-person activities, including worship services.  Over the past three years this community has come together and created and sustained new ways of doing church including how we offer worship to the community.  It has been a period of enormous learning and change and, in my mind, has built resilience and comradery in this faith community.

In this annual report you will see the hard work of the congregation reflected on each page.  If you read between the lines you will see even more of the heart, hard work and commitment the individuals and committees who strive to make Grace a place of hope, safety and belonging.

I am grateful for all the acts of generosity that take place in this community every day.  Thanks to all of you who do so much to keep the congregation going.  All these acts contribute to the effort to ensure Grace United Church will not simply survive another year but will thrive for decades to come.


Rev. Christine Smaller



2022 has turned out once again to be both an interesting, challenging and a very successful year at Grace, as we slowly emerge from the restrictions, both physically and mentally, that COVID 19 placed upon our leadership and congregation.  We are gradually returning to normal with services in the Sanctuary, Celebrations of Life, Weddings and Concerts, with masks optional.

We celebrate the call of Rev. Christine Smaller to Grace as ¾ time Minister.  She and Mike have proven to be much more than an asset to our Church community.  Her thoughtful messages continue to stimulate and encourage reflection of our faith at this time and place in history.  The 4th Sunday services have been diverse and interesting ranging from music themes lead by Chris, introductions of initiatives from our talented leaders, and supply personnel.  They get better with each week.  Chris continues to supply ministry in music with the choir and his magic on the keys.  Vanessa has grown into her role as Administrator with new and creative ideas to meet our needs.  Lori keeps our building spotless.

We can reflect on the past year and beyond, beginning with the Community Round Table of 2019, (albeit COVID delayed) and Rev. Christine’s summation of who we are and what goals we should strive for in 2022 and beyond.

The general message is “Reaching Out to the Wider Community” and the initiatives speak loudly to this endeavor:

  • The Green Team have ‘greened’ our building and initiated the hugely successful Repair Café.  Their mission is loud and clear on our outside wall
  • The Affirming Ministry continues with its initiative of welcoming all to our Church
  • The hugely successful Candy Cane Fair
  • Introducing community dinners
  • The Home Share program, in aid of lower income singles matched with seniors in this community, has gained the attention of media within and beyond the Blue Mountains
  • Concerts for the enjoyment of all

Each endeavor offers a welcome to the wider community and the culture here at Grace.  As our congregation ages, we see transitioning into the future with greater importance on technology, less governance, and even more community outreach, where Church committees may evolve into working groups all in an effort to remain sustainable and grow.

We thank you all for your contributions this past year and look forward to a faithful and rewarding 2023.

With Blessings,      

Jim Dolmer and Heather Dickson




The Board of Trustees (BOT) is responsible for managing the assets of Grace United Church, which include the physical and financial assets.  Our financial assets include money obtained from the sale of the manse in 2012 and money received from gifts and endowments to the church.


The current members of the BOT are: Terry Blackman and Peter Armstrong (Co-chairs), Rev. Christine Smaller, Bonnie Hammond (Secretary), Perry Hoadley, Margaret Tirpkoff, and Dave Robinson.  We will be adding Shirley Woolner and Jim Dolmer at our annual meeting in early 2023.

The financial assets are very close in value to where they were at the beginning of 2022, despite the turbulent markets of the past 19 months, and rose in January to the level of December 2021.

We provided the church with $12,000 in dividend and interest again this year.

In December of 2022 we transferred $20,000 from the sale of the Manse fund, with the permission of the Western Ontario Waterways Region, to provide for the unexpected cost of repairing the brickwork and repointing.  This brings the balance the Trustees are investing to $61,786.00, on behalf of the Grace Church Fund (for more detail refer to Financial Statements Observations 2022, pg. 27). 

We continued our insurance at Secure Insurance for now, but are looking at joining the Insurance Group at United Church of Canada who are now providing full insurance for their members.

We are now conducting our meeting on-line using ZOOM, which allows members with physical difficulties to continue as active, contributing members.  This has worked out very well.

Our goal is to continue to provide income and stability in the funds we manage, and the assets we protect for Grace United Church.

Submitted by,

Terry Blackman




Throughout the past year, the Safety Commission members have made decisions, with the health and wellbeing of everyone who attends functions at Grace United Church, at the forefront.

The Lower Hall of the church has opened and coffee time, birthday parties, meetings, suppers and other various functions have occurred.  What a joy it has been to be meeting together again!

Masking has been required in the sanctuary and only recently has that protocol been changed to an optional choice.

We want to thank everyone for your cooperation, patience, and willingness to follow the decisions that the Commission members have made on behalf of the safety of all people entering our church building.

Respectfully Submitted by,

Margaret Tirpkoff

Chair, COVID-19 Safety Commission


Dr. Christopher Burton, Doug Clarke, Bonnie Hammond, Vanessa MacDonald, Sylvia McMurchy, Rev. Christine Smaller, Candy Yeandle, Margaret Tirpkoff



The Sustainability Task Group was not active in 2022.  However, through consultation with the Board and the congregation, a clearer picture of Grace’s future emerged.   A number of new and exciting initiatives have now been developed and are underway. 

The Board has assumed a key role in the strategic direction and goal setting for Grace United and will, during 2023, undertake a review of the overall governance and committee structure.

George Dickson




Affirming Ministry Leadership Group

The Affirming Ministry Leadership Group was set up to explore becoming a designated Affirming Ministry.  The group has worked to raise awareness of LGBTQ2SIAA+ at Grace United Church Thornbury.  For clarity the focus on becoming truly welcoming of everyone regardless of how they identify their gender, who they love, and how they express themselves sexually and in other ways. 

The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer or questioning, 2-spirited, intersexual, asexual, ally and other.  The Leadership Group has identified and studied resources available to guide this work and has organized the first of several events to engage the congregation in exploring the theological and social justice basis for being affirming.

Resources, perspectives and prayers have been provided through the church’s eblast and through special worship services to help all of us understand more about the affirming process and the people adversely affected by how they are welcomed by our community.

Submitted by,

Mary Lou Gignac


Caroline Abbott, Mary Lou Gignac, Marilyn Parkin, Paul Parkin, Mary Poulin, Heike Reck


The Green Team

The Green Team hosted a well attended bonfire with hot chocolate on Saturday March 26 to acknowledge Earth Hour.

After the first Repair Café during Earth Week on April 23, there has been a steady increase in customers each month.  It was the seventh Repair Café on January 28.  We are actively seeking volunteers to assist with repairs.

On June 2, the Green Team was thrilled to receive a $5000 grant from the United Church Embracing the Spirit campaign.  The funds are to be used for new initiatives that encourage us to build community, deepen our spirituality and become better stewards of the earth.  To-date just over $1600 of the grant has been used to fund the start-up and ongoing costs, including signs for advertising for the Repair Café as well as the Climate Justice banner over our front door. 

Green Team members participated in the Canada Day parade proudly displaying the Climate Justice banner. 

Green Team members sorted dinner waste at the St George’s Anglican Church Corn Roast and the Grace Chili dinner into compost, recycle and waste, diverting a significant amount of waste from the landfill. 

The Green Team organized and looked after the used book sale, used Christmas decorations sale and the sale of fabric gift bags, etc. at the Candy Cane Fair in November.  The Green Team also arranged for and sanitized glass jars for the soup sales at the Candy Cane Fair. 

The Green Team presented a well received Church service on Nov 27.  The theme was “For the Love of Creation.”

Submitted by,

Diana Dolmer



The Seekers group resumed meeting in September 2022 to discuss content and perspectives raised in articles from the Broadview publications and recordings from other sources.  The materials have focussed on topical social justice issues selected by the participants on a rotating basis.

The group meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at the convenient time of 9 a.m.

Submitted by,

Mary Lou Gignac

Georgian Bay Home Share                                                                     

In February of 2022, the idea of initiating an outreach project at Grace that would help seniors and low-income earners, began to percolate in our minds.  Everyone needs a home and we knew that our area was experiencing a housing crisis.  Because of high rents, young people cannot afford to live here and therefore cannot work here.  Through research we found that there is a high percentage of seniors living alone and some are having difficulty maintaining their homes.  Could we match the two by sharing a home?

In May 2022, with the partnership of BVO we held a Senior’s Forum at the library, to which we invited two non-profit organizations whose focus was on options for seniors.  We supplied a PowerPoint presentation from Home Share Canada.  Through our research we found there was no other organization in the area which was focusing on the Home Share Canada model.

In July 2022, the three of us presented our Home Share idea to Grace at a church service, asking for support in this new endeavour and subsequently we received approval from the Board to proceed.

In August 2022, we had a very productive ZOOM call with Waterloo Region Home Share. They were very generous in sharing their experience in starting up their program and they have continued to be helpful as we grow our project.

Over the next few months, we had many planning meetings and with the assistance of Rev. Christine, we wrote our Georgian Bay Home Share Foundational Document which we then sent to all the members of Grace.  We also applied to the United Church of Canada Foundation and sent our document to them and on November 22 2022, we received a $10,000.00 matching grant.  We are very grateful to the Candy Cane Fair for a donation of $1000.00 and to Grace members who also donated. A donation has also been received in memory of Don Young.  Thank you.

In January, we worked with Ashley Prince of the Blue Mountain Library to create our logo.  She also gave of her time to help us with many computer issues.  We also appreciate the time that Vanessa has given to help us with our process forms.  Once we had our logo we sent our document out to all the churches in Meaford and Thornbury and to all the service organizations in both towns.

Next, we began our advertising campaign by running stories and ads in the Meaford Independent, The Blue Mountain Review and Collingwood Today.  Diana had a radio interview with the CBC and as a result of these we received several contacts from Home Seekers and Home Providers.  Through our in-depth interview process, we have made a successful match which was very exciting for us.

We are now creating our website, planning more ads, some fund raisers and following up on our letters to the churches and organizations.  We are currently in need of Home Providers and would appreciate referrals from the congregation.  Donations are also welcome as we must match our grant from the United Church of Canada.


Diana Dolmer, Carol Clarke & Norine Baron



It seems that COVID 19 and its variants, started to release us from its tenacious hold in 2022, although not completely, and we were able to return to in-church worship and finally to some after-church fellowship before year end.

Once again, the M&P Committee had a busy year and we were delighted to add Jim Oliver to our group.

Following just over one year of interim full-time ministry, Rev. Christine Smaller accepted a call to permanent part time (75%) ministry as of June 1, 2022, and this seems to be working well.  With this arrangement, the fourth Sunday and possible fifth Sunday’s service is provided by a variety of pulpit supply, including music services directed by Dr. Chris Burton.

Dr. Burton’s role continued as before with added responsibilities for services as above.

Vanessa MacDonald started in her role as Administrator in January following Rosemary Adams’ departure, and initially was working twelve hours per week, but it soon became apparent that this was inadequate and her hours were increased to twenty hours weekly. 

The Volunteer Team works closely with Vanessa and provides a vital service to our church.

Our Custodian Lori Fitzgerald is supervised by the Property Manager, Doug Clarke and his untiring devotion to doing a great job.

On behalf of the congregation, we would like to thank all members of staff and volunteer teams for their contributions to the work of the church.

Submitted by,

Chris Donald

M&P Committee 2022: Chris Donald, Mary Lou Gignac, Jim Oliver, Candy Yeandle



November 19, 2022 was an exciting day for Grace United Church with the return of the Candy Cane Fair after a two-year hiatus. The famous Christmas cookie bar, bake table and delicious lunch was back in full force with the tremendous help of the congregation and community volunteers. 

Thank you so much to everyone for all your hard work which resulted in raising $4,153.70.  This enabled the funds to be distributed as follows: Grace United Church $2500; Georgian Bay Home Share $1000; Grey Bruce Pride $250 (to be submitted in early 2023).

We look forward to another Candy Cane Fair next November under the coordination of Sandy Eagles.

Mary Armstrong




Thank you to Rev. Christine Smaller for her leadership and thought-provoking messages that we enjoy each week.  To Chris Burton, we express appreciation for sharing his musical talents with us during worship.  The volunteers who assist with so many aspects of the service, are greatly appreciated.  In addition to committee members, volunteers act as greeters, ushers, scripture readers, and other tasks as required.  The Tech Team, comprised of John Hunter, Orleen Anderson, Carl Sampson, Jim Dolmer, Jim Oliver, and Matthew Rocque, are amazing and provide live-stream services on-line for people who join in from near and far.

As we continue to return from the pandemic, we appreciate the fellowship and joy that is expressed each week in our sanctuary.

Musical highlights of the year were the Elmer Isler’s Singers concert and Carolfest.

Unfortunately, Christmas Eve candlelight and Christmas Day services had to be cancelled due to weather conditions.

Thank you to everyone for your contributions to continue to have a vibrant, spiritually filled, Grace United Church.

Respectfully submitted by,

Margaret Tirpkoff



I’m always excited to share my love of music with the Grace United Church community.  The past year was especially gratifying, as we were able to return to in-person services in the Sanctuary.

I am grateful to Our Senior Choir for their dedication in coming out on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings to sing.  We have a very strong and energetic core of singers who are committed to bringing their best to worship each week.

The year 2022 was not without its challenges.  The choir was asked to sing through masks, which I know is not easy, especially when I am harping about clearly enunciating words, creating a beautiful blend of sound, singing in tune, etc.  Again, I extend my thanks.

My thanks also go once again to Saundra Lake who has always been ready and so able to step in for me while I take my weeks of vacation in the summer.  In 2022 Saundra filled in for me for two services while I isolated at home after having tested positive for COVID.

My positive test came at the most inopportune time, just as we were putting the final touches on the preparation for the return of The Elmer Iseler Singers in late October.  Sadly, I could not be there for the concert, but I know it was a roaring success.  I look forward to being able to present more events like that to the church and the Thornbury community.

In December we presented our Carolfest.  We had the Ruthven Sisters and members of the Grey Bruce Singers (Hanover) and ChoralWorks (Collingwood) joining the choirs of Grace United and St. George’s Anglican Church.  I’m already looking to expand the range of entertaining and spiritual music for Carolfest, 2023.

I would like to thank the Grace community for inviting me to develop a series of Music Sunday services in which I lead the services from the pulpit, but also offer an expanded element of music.  I look forward to continuing in the future.

Looking to the future, I am always looking at ways to expand and enliven music at the church.  Now that the worst of COVID is behind us, I can only see the list of possibilities growing. 

As we say goodbye to choir members who have passed on, moved away, or retired from the choir, I am dedicated to continue to work to bringing new faces into the choir and to Grace United Church.

Submitted by,

Christopher Burton

Music Director




The MVC Committee usually meets in January, May and December each year, as a “meeting of minds and hearts” to discuss any issues, questions, comments and news of interest that each group may have.  In 2022 we have not met in person.  We kept in touch through email and phone calls.  Prior to each board meeting, the members send their report by email.  The overall MVC group includes representatives from:  hospitality/catering, membership, pastoral care team, photography, prayerful ministry, social dinners, Friday volunteers, telephone tree and website, all of which fall within the MVC committee’s terms of reference.

As in previous years, Grace United sadly said goodbye to faithful members who have either moved away or passed away.  The Historic Roll gets updated whenever we have been advised that changes were required.  Also, any new members get added to the roll.  The roll was updated after the deaths of Lee Yeandle, Brent Mustard, Les Beattie and Pat Grant.  There were no new members in 2022.

MVC is involved in communication in may ways:

Telephone Tree:  This is used to update church announcements and is mostly for people who do not have email, or would rather be called.  It is activated to inform people of upcoming events, funeral notices, closure of the church due to weather etc., and it is maintained by Sandy Eagles, along with the callers, Diana Dolmer, Susan Hoadley, Eileen Robinson, Lynn Corrigan Teddi Murray and Sandy Eagles

Photo Board:  This is maintained by Sandy Eagles.  In 2022 I wasn’t able to be in person to get photos.

Newsletter:  This was shelved again this year, but hopefully we can resurrect this again.  If anyone is interested in taking on this task, you can get in touch with Sandy or any of the members.

The Grace Church website is updated weekly with the current church bulletin.  Upcoming special events or services are noted on the website’s ‘Events’ tab or when appropriate, on the website’s home page.  The website also provides the link to our weekly services, which is live-streamed every week.  Thank you to the Tech Team:  John Hunter, Orleen Anderson, Matthew Rocque, Carl Sampson, Jim Dolmer and Jim Oliver.

The Friday office volunteers continue to be a great help to the Administrator.

The committee provides nametags for new members and regular visitors.  Thank you, Lynn Corrigan, for doing this.

The following are separate reports from Hospitality, and fall under MVC:  Social Dinners, Spiritual Care and Prayerful Ministry.

Submitted by,

Sandy Eagles

Chair and Board Liaison

Other committee members: Diana Dolmer, Marilyn Parkin, Lois Lockie, Jocelyn Donald and Rev. Christine Smaller


Prayerful Ministry - The Healing Pathway:

Members of this group have met weekly on Wednesdays since our first Phase One workshop in 2014.

Since COVID we have met by ZOOM.  In the spring, we met on-line, bi-weekly, with members of the Body and Soul Group, First United Church, Owen Sound.  Our group led one session and Rev. Kristal McGee led the other.  Kristal also led a one-day retreat in August that two of our group were able to attend. 

Since summer, the Body and Soul group has met in person once a month.  We participated twice.  We have continued to meet weekly ourselves by ZOOM.  Some members of the First United group participate with us.  We have conducted sessions as requested by ZOOM and by appointment in person.  We have used the name Prayerful Ministry since this energy work is a form of prayer.

Each week our session includes heart-centred meditation and reviewing sequences learned in the Healing Pathway Workshops.  Using those sequences, we work with the energy field we each have to connect to our Heart Centre and restore physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance. 

ZOOM has imposed some limitations on what we can do but we hope we can meet in person again in the coming year.

You can contact us by email at, or call Marilyn Parkin at 226-668-9628.  For more information about the Healing Pathway go to

Members include: Barbara Downie, Trinity United Church; Muriel Lush, Temple Hill United Church; Mary Poulin and Marilyn and Paul Parkin, Grace United Church

Submitted by,

Marilyn Parkin



Hospitality:  The committee catered to four events in 2022 and prepared 340 meals: three celebrations of life (for John Corrigan, Walter Mount, and Patricia Grant); supper for the Elmer Iseler Singers.  Thank you to all the people who helped out with food preparation, providing desserts, serving, and clean up.  Special thanks to Joanne Lougheed for filling in for me when I was away.

Diana Dolmer and Sandy Eagles co-chair this committee.

Social Dinners:  The MVC did not cater social dinners in 2022, although a Chili Dinner was hosted by

Rev. Christine Smaller and Mike Weller.


Spiritual Care Annual Report 2022

Although we do not have team meetings, Isabelle Hagerman, Diana Dolmer, Teddi Murray, Marilyn and Paul Parkin, and Rev. Christine Smaller each offer Spiritual Care. 

We offered spiritual care to nine people in Retirement Communities and Long-Term Care.  We also maintained contact by phone with others as requested or needed.  In person visits have still depended on communities being open for visits as COVID and respiratory viruses resulted in quarantine and closure due to outbreak at times.

Paul and Marilyn conducted services monthly at Errinrung with the valued assistance of Dr. Chris Burton at the piano and members of choir who helped with singing.  Since residents living in the retirement home are still not allowed to participate in events held in the nursing home, we offered to go to them for a carol sing in December and after discussion with them, we are conducting separate worship services until they can participate with nursing home residents.  Phyllis Fleming conducted services during the summer months. 

Correspondence - Teddi Murray sent cards, as requested.  She sent twenty-four Christmas cards, twenty-two Easter cards and twenty-seven others for transitions such as birthdays, special anniversaries, a new baby, illness and bereavement.  Isobel Hagerman wrote letters and continues to write to those who would appreciate the contact, as requested.

Cradle Roll - Diana Dolmer sends out birthday cards to children who were baptised or received a baby blessing at Grace up to their 6th birthday.

Hospital Visiting restrictions changed many times in 2022 but are lifted now.  Rev. Heather McCarrel, Hospital Chaplain for Meaford in 2022, notified Rev. Christine Smaller when someone from the congregation was in hospital.  Notifications from Owen Sound come by telephone indicating that someone from the congregation is in hospital but often by the time the call is returned the individual has been discharged.  If you or a member of your family has a medical concern or are in hospital and would welcome a visit, it is most helpful if you contact Rev. Christine Smaller or the church office directly.

Rev. Christine Smaller visits with people.  She meets with families who have experienced bereavement to arrange for funeral or memorial services or as requested.

Emergency Spiritual Care - Rev. Christine Smaller arranged for urgent care coverage when she was away.



The Property Committee’s mandate is to ensure that the Church building, furnishings and grounds are well maintained.  For insurance requirements, a walk-through is conducted by the Property Manager every Wednesday to check that all is in proper working order.  This inspection includes the offices, dishwasher, furnace, lift, fans, and the overall cleanliness of the building.  Once per month, Barry Tatchell inspects the fire extinguishers and the emergency lights.

In early March we investigated adding three heat pumps to our existing furnaces.  However, with a more serious look at this with Clarksburg Contractors, it was decided that our existing electrical supply was not adequate enough to accept the addition of these pumps and would require too much expense to upgrade the electrical system.  The project was cancelled but we will need new furnaces in the future.

In late Spring we were able to have the Masonry people back to finish re-pointing the bricks on the buttresses and the chimney.

In June we shut off the heat and turned on the air conditioning ourselves thereby saving the expense of having Clarksburg Contractors do it.  We also saved about $300.00 by not having to spray for cluster flies.

Our Custodian Lori is doing an excellent job for us.  Thank you, Lori.  Also, many thanks to Sandy, Joanne and Barry who repaired and painted the windows and the sills and washed the curtains in the Lower Hall.  The room is so much brighter.  Their next project is to paint the panelled walls in the Lower Hall.

The great team of Heike Reck, Barry Tatchell, Joanne Lougheed, Sandy Eagles, Sylvia McMurchy Carol Clarke and Chris Donald did the decorating of the Church for Christmas and erected the Christmas tree and took it down.

Our snow removal contract was negotiated in early October.  We reduced the area to be ploughed by 15 feet across the back and therefore received a small savings.  Thank you to George Dickson and Chris Donald who helped with the Fall clean up.

I am thankful for the way in which so many volunteers step forward when I need help.  I appreciate you all.

Respectfully submitted,

Doug Clarke

Property Manager



We are back in our church building on Sunday mornings for family life events and for community events.  Grace United is so very much alive.  Your financial generosity, your commitment of time, your sharing of talents and ideas, are collectively wonderful assets to Grace and to the wider community. 

The 2020 and 2021 Government subsidies that helped keep Grace financially viable during the 'closed' times of the pandemic have been generously replaced by your donations.

Some fund-raising events returned in 2022: a concert with the Elmer Iseler Singers; the Candy Cane Fair; the Christmas Carol Fest.  All events were well attended and joyous. 

Once again, upgrades and maintenance to the building were undertaken.  The window wells were painted to brighten the basement and the bricks and mortar were repaired where necessary.  The covenant commission of Western Ontario Waterways Regional Council allowed us to use $20,000 from the sale of the manse restricted funds towards the repairs.

This year started with a new office administrator, Vanessa MacDonald.  Vanessa has taken on this position with her dedication to detail and a generous spirit of sharing.  It was also decided to hire a bookkeeper, Jeff McKay, and purchase PowerChurch, a software program that links church records and activities and reduces duplication of record keeping. 

M&S donations fell slightly short of our 2022 budget objective.  M&S plays a significant role in the wellbeing of the United Church of Canada and its missions in Canada and the world. 

Rev Christine Smaller agreed to a three-quarter time contract which has given Grace the opportunity to listen to guest pulpit supply, guest community speakers, committee presentations, music Sundays and so much more. 

We remember Les Beattie and his gift with words, his sharing of optimism and hope, his gentle spirit, his love of family, friends and dedication to Grace.  Les died May 9, 2022.  

Submitted by,

George Dickson and Orleen Anderson