Minister’s Message

Not only are we entering a new year in 2020, but it’s also the beginning of a new decade. This is the time of year when we often think about making changes in our lives to be healthier, happier, and more helpful. Some of us are ready to let go of the year 2019 and are looking forward with great anticipation to the year/decade that lies ahead – while some others may be clinging to the past, hesitant about what might lie ahead.
We can go forward boldly and bravely, knowing that we don’t travel into this new decade alone – God travels with us, and this presence is often made known through the people who come into our lives at just the right moment. If your plans for the new year/decade include engaging with a worshiping community, you will find a warm and meaningful welcome here at Knox. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions about our ministry – or if you’d just like to get together for a coffee and a chat.
According to author Melody Beattie, the new year stands before us like a chapter in a book waiting to be written. Praying that your chapter is filled with joy, love, and compassion.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

The Christmas carols greet us as we enter the shopping malls, the Christmas lights adorning our neighbourhood houses twinkle against the dark December sky, the Advent candles are being lit – one by one. The Christmas season is upon us. The lights are indeed beautiful at this time of year, but for many of us this season may be anything but “merry and bright.” I know many of us are dealing with grief, sorrow, worry, and loneliness. Which is why the above passage from John’s gospel may be more poignant for us this year.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John’s gospel states. Notice that it doesn’t claim that the darkness is completely removed – the light shines IN the darkness – the darkness is still there. But the Light is also still there.

Christmas is our reminder of the promises of faith that reassure us of the ever-present Light made visible through Jesus, who “is with us always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:30). Images of light appear throughout the scriptures as a reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the darkness – as a pillar of fire leading the Hebrews through the wilderness, as a lamp unto our feet illuminating our understanding of scripture, and as a star in the sky signalling a special birth.

This Christmas season, as we view the lights twinkling in our neighbourhoods and as we light the Advent candles, one by one, may these lights remind us of the Light that is with us always, illuminating our way through the times of grief, sorrow, worry, and loneliness. John’s gospel reminds us that the light shines IN the darkness – the darkness is still there – but the darkness cannot overcome this Light.

John and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your family for a very blessed Christmas, filled with hope, peace, joy, love…and Light.

We will celebrate Christmas Eve at Knox at 7pm (family service) and 9 pm (communion)

On Sunday we will gather – and we will remember. Our Remembrance Sunday service will include an opportunity for us to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in the quest for peace in our country and around the world. We recognize that many places of our world are still mired in war and conflict, so we will pray for peace, knowing that our prayers must be coupled with action. Please join us.

This Sunday, we continue our sermon series called “God With Us.” Last week, we examined how God is with us in the valleys of our lives, even though we may feel that God’s presence is very far away. This week, we will look at “the wilderness” and discover how this imagery is often used in scripture to describe experiences when we are wandering, wondering, and waiting. Again – even if we’re not aware of it – God’s presence is there in the wilderness as well, but it may be discovered in the unexpected.

This Sunday, we begin a new four-week sermon series called “God With Us.” Every lifetime is filled with highs and lows, peaks and valleys, and there may be times in our journey when it feels like God is very far away. During our sermon series, we’ll look at the concept of God’s presence, even when we can’t see it or are not even aware of it. This week, our sermon title is “In the Valley”, which will be followed by “In the Wilderness” (Nov. 10), “In the Storm” (Nov. 17), and will conclude with “Always” (Nov. 24). I hope you’ll come and join us.
Our focus passages this week come from Paul’s letter to the Philippians along with words of comfort from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

This weekend, many of us will be gathering with family and friends around the dinner table, giving thanks for the abundance of this year’s harvest. As part of your Thanksgiving celebration, you’re invited to come to worship this Sunday at Knox when we’ll be discussing the significance of Jesus’ words – “I am the bread of life.” There is great symbolism in Jesus comparing himself to the world’s oldest and most abundant staple food. This comparison reminds us that the nourishment that Jesus gives – physical as well as spiritual – is intended for all people. And the love of Jesus may look different, depending on your circumstances…just as bread comes in many different varieties – pumpernickel, sourdough, pita, chapatti, baguettes, naan, and plain ole Wonder bread.
You’re invited to join us at Knox as we discover how Jesus – the Bread of Life – is expressed to us.
As an extra act of thanksgiving, you are welcome to bring a donation to the Manna Food Bank this Sunday

A report released yesterday (Thursday) in the United States claims that the gap between rich and poor has grown to its highest level since the Census Bureau started tracking statistics more than 50 years ago. While income inequality is not as dire in our country, a report from Oxfam indicates that the 46 billionaires recorded in Canada increased their wealth by $20-billion in the past year. And I’m sure each one of us has seen the effects of income inequality in our own communities as well, as it seems that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
How do we respond to this inequality from a position of faith?
Jesus shared a stark parable that highlighted the chasms that exist among people. We’re going to examine this parable on Sunday to discover how we can work together to “close the gap.”

There have been times in my life when I’ve found myself travelling in the wrong direction – literally, by taking a wrong turn in the road, and metaphorically, by making unhelpful decisions.
We will conclude our “New Beginnings” sermon series this Sunday with a conversation about how a life of faith can take us in a new direction, resulting in a new beginning. Our focus passage will be 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

We are excited to welcome Christian musician, Jacob Moon, NEXT Sunday, September 22nd, who will join me in leading our service. Jacob is a folk singer/songwriter and guitarist based in Hamilton and is also an ambassador with Compassion Canada with the goal of ending child poverty. Jacob will share a message about Compassion Canada and he will also lead us in some traditional hymns as well as a few newer praise songs. Jacob’s music can be found on YouTube and on his website ( You can also learn more about Compassion Canada by clicking here:

Mark your calendars for Knox’s upcoming drama production!
Here are the details:

You are invited to join in a morning of planning, dreaming, and preparing for the future at Knox. On Saturday October 5th, we will gather for about two hours starting at 9:30am to create a vision for a new endowment fund. Earlier in the summer, our congregation participated in an advisory vote, providing guidance to our Session and Board of Managers as to how to “proceed with the proceeds” from the sale of our former Muskoka Beach Road property. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of the establishment of an endowment fund. Join us on Oct. 5th to learn more about the fund and to help create a plan for how the proceeds will be spent. We have been blessed to be a blessing to others!

May the peace of Christ be with you,

The Labour Day weekend is upon us. Labour Day originated to bring attention to workers’ rights and safety, but it’s evolved into a weekend to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. If attending worship is part of your long weekend plans, you’re most welcome to join us at Knox. Here are the details:

We will continue our “finding rest” sermon series this Sunday. Last week, we spoke about the importance of rest in maintaining our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. This week, we’ll add to that conversation by examining how rest and action go hand-in-hand. I’ve often heard it said that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and there’s much wisdom to that. Even Jesus needed time for rest!

A sure sign that a new season is on the way is the beginning of our Knox Connex ministry after a summer break!
Join us on Wednesday, September 4th for three conneXion points. Come to one, two, or all three! And feel free to bring a friend.
Here are the details….

The regular Sunday School season will kick off on September 8th at Knox! Thanks so much to Rev. Michael Barnes and Diana MacDonald for overseeing this most important ministry.
May the peace of Christ be with you,


Our WWJU sermon series comes to a conclusion this Sunday as we continuing looking at the things Jesus would have us UN-do in our lives. In week one, we determined that Jesus would want us to UN-do our sense of indifference (“meh”) when it comes to our faith. Last week, we got the message loud and clear from Matthew 23 that Jesus wants us to UN-do hypocrisy. And this week, we’ll examine Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector – two men from opposite ends of the social and religious spectrum who come to pray at the temple – as an example of Jesus’ desire for us to UN-do spiritual pride. Like many of the stories of Jesus, the outcome is not what you might expect.

This Sunday afternoon I will be heading to Camp Cairn to serve as chaplain until Wednesday. I’m really looking forward to spending time with the campers and staff as we enjoy God’s creation together.
On Wednesday, our Knox family is hosting a home-cooked meal for the dedicated camp staff starting at 6pm. Knox is the closest Presbyterian church to the camp so this is a wonderful way for us to express our care and thanks to the staff.
We will also be sending them back to camp with home-baked cookies. If you’d like to provide home-made nut-free cookies, please just bring them to church on Sunday.

John and I will be away on holiday for the first three weeks of August and are planning on doing some camping around Lake Superior. I will return to the office on August 23rd.
I’m so thankful for our retired ministers from our Knox family who will be leading worship in my absence.
Rev. Ken Heron will take the service on August 4th, Rev. Michael Barnes on the 11th, and Rev. Dr. Jim Thomson on the 18th.

I will also be taking a break from preparing this weekly email so the next mailing should come your way on August 22nd (unless something important arises that needs to be shared beforehand).
Wishing you all many blessings,

About a decade or so ago, I owned one of those WWJD bracelets. Perhaps you did too. These bracelets served as a reminder for us to consider “What Would Jesus Do?” when going about our daily activities. It was a helpful way for us to pause and think before we spoke or acted to ensure that our words and actions would be helpful instead of hurtful.

This Sunday, we’ll begin a new sermon series called “WWJU – What Would Jesus UNdo?” Jesus was quite clear in his teachings about behaviours, words, and attitudes that needed to go…that needed to be UNdone. Over the next three weeks, we’ll examine some of those teachings to help us discover how we can live helpful – not hurtful – lives. We’ll even have an opportunity to craft some new WWJU bracelets during our coffee hour after the service!

We’ll begin the series with a conversation about Jesus’ aversion to INDIFFERENCE, and in the following weeks we’ll add HYPOCRISY and SPIRITUAL PRIDE to the list of things to be UNdone.

This week, we’ll explore the parable of the sower as described in Mark’s gospel, along with a warning found in Revelation about the hazard of being a “lukewarm” church.

Thank you to everyone who has donated items for our Vacation Bible School wish list. We have received so many donations and are good to go for next week!
VBS will be held at the Vankoughnet Community Center from 9:15am to 11:30am, Monday to Friday next week.
Those needing a ride are asked to meet at Knox by 8:30 each morning. Please keep this important outreach ministry in your prayers that all participants would be safe, would have loads of fun, and would draw closer to God and to each other.

Our Knox family is hosting a home-cooked meal for the dedicated (and tired!) staff from Camp Cairn, our Presbyterian church camp located near Baysville, on Wednesday July 31st at 6pm. Knox is the closest Presbyterian church to the camp so this is a wonderful way for us to express our thanks to the camp staff – and to provide them with something other than camp food, at least for one meal of the summer!
We will also be sending them back to camp with home-baked cookies. If you’d like to help out with the dinner, or provide home-made peanut-free cookies, please let me know.
Grace and peace,

We might be familiar with the childhood nursery rhyme “Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple” which illustrates, through our fingers, how the church is filled with “all the people.” But as our Faith Re-Imagined sermon series concludes this Sunday, we’ll discuss how the church can actually be at its best – living out its highest mandate – when “all the people” are OUTSIDE the building, doing the work of faith among the community.
You’re invited to join us at Knox this Sunday as we discuss the importance of the church in our communities, and add another verse to the nursery rhyme:
“Here’s the church,
Here’s the steeple,
Let’s go out the doors,
And serve all the people!”

Join us for our community BBQ at Knox tomorrow (Saturday July 6th) from 11am to 1pm.
Stop by as we get to meet our neighbours and enjoy lunch together!

It’s almost time for our Vacation Bible Camp at Vankoughnet!
Camp will be held during the mornings of July 15th to 19th. Registration forms are available at the church and can be turned in at our office or emailed to me at Transportation will be available for those children who need it, and high school students are invited to come along to earn their volunteer hours.
We also have a VBS Wish List of items needed for camp. You’re invited to drop off any donated items at the church on Sunday or from Tuesday to Friday between 9am and 1pm.
Here’s the list:
6” clay pots
Construction paper (various colours)
Battery-operated tea light candles
Small gingerbread cookie cutters
Ribbons, yarn, cloth strips, buttons
Juice boxes (various flavours)
Dessert size paper plates

Our Knox family is hosting a home-cooked meal for the dedicated (and tired!) staff from Camp Cairn, our Presbyterian church camp located near Baysville, on Wednesday July 31st at 6pm. Knox is the closest Presbyterian church to the camp so this is a wonderful way for us to express our thanks to the camp staff – and to provide them with something other than camp food, at least for one meal of the summer!
We will also be sending them back to camp with home-baked cookies. If you’d like to help out with the dinner, or provide home-made peanut-free cookies, please let me know.

Grace and peace,


At Knox, we’ve been talking about “Light” and discovering how to best reflect the light of Jesus. God created light by merely uttering the words “let there be light” and then God revealed what light can look like through the person of Jesus, the Light of the world. And now, God calls us to live as children of light – but what does that look like?

At Knox, we believe that living in light can take on various forms but always involves illuminating the lives of others with grace, mercy, and love. Perhaps the best way to live in light is by practically sharing the gifts we have – our time, our talent, and our treasure – thus, shedding light on the lives of others in their time of challenge.

We recently learned a new worship song at Knox called “People of the Light” written by John Oldham. The lyrics state:

“We are reaching, we are reaching out in love,  in the Spirit, in the Spirit of the Dove.  We are living, we are living out love’s way.              We are loving, we are loving, come what may.”

Perhaps THAT is how we live as Children of Light.

To be honest, the word “evangelism” can sometimes make me cringe. It brings to mind people (aka bible-thumpers!) who have been forceful, arrogant, and close-minded when sharing their faith. Unfortunately, this form of sharing has probably had the opposite effect – turning people away from God instead of drawing others toward faith. During our Light: Reflecting the Source sermon series, we’re discussing how sharing faith can be as simple as reflecting the love, compassion, and acceptance of Jesus, letting our light shine for others.  Instead of forcefully reciting scripture passages and attempting to prove who’s right and who’s wrong, perhaps the best form of evangelism is listening, sharing, helping, visiting, and serving. You’re invited to join us for our Light sermon series – or any time – to discover more about how you can connect with faith, life, love, and light. I promise, there will be NO bible thumping!

You have probably noticed that, little by little, the days are getting longer. We are experiencing more and more daylight as we travel in this time between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In the church calendar, we are still in the season of Epiphany – the season of light – which seems very fitting at this time of year.

Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate the increasing daylight by beginning a new sermon series called Light: Reflecting the Source. This Sunday, we’ll examine the “let there be light” scripture passages – Genesis 1 and John 1 – and reflect upon the immanence and transcendence of our Creator.

There have been times when we’ve been camping, canoeing, or hiking in God’s creation, when I’ve been overwhelmed by the beauty surrounding me. I remember one time when we were camping in Tobermory, we took a night-time walk away from the campsite and then looked up…the vast expanse of stars and planets that we saw was truly breathtaking. It went on and on – wave after wave of pin-pricks of light, with streaks of shooting stars adding an extra element of awe. It was SO big – and I felt so very small, and tiny, and insignificant.

These are moments when I’ve experienced the transcendence of God…the knowledge that God is vast, and powerful, and huge, and overwhelming. At times like that, God can seem very un-knowable…beyond our comprehension and understanding. Yet, God becomes knowable through the person of Jesus Christ – the One called the Light of the world who puts human flesh on the vastness of God. Making God knowable. And when we know God, we experience God’s immanence.

When we are feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of God – or the magnitude of this world – may we also experience God’s inner presence, God’s immanence, made possible through Jesus Christ.

Something very special takes place when we gather around food at a table. Think about the wonderful celebrations that you have experienced throughout your lifetime, and chances are, a table was involved: the family gathering together around the Christmas table, birthday candles being blown out after a meal around the dining room table, a wonderful meal – complete with speeches and tears – at a wedding celebration…a backyard BBQ, a church pot-luck…to take up a place at a table is to occupy sacred space.

This is sacred space because the people we love most sit with us at these tables. Meals are shared. Stories are told. Sins are confessed. Decisions are made. We laugh together and cry together. And there we experience God’s nearness, God’s kindness, and God’s love.

Sometimes the food is secondary…it’s the catalyst that draws us    together…and it’s the together-ness that makes the table sacred space.

Sharing tables is one of the most uniquely human things we do. When you think about it, no other creature consumes its food at a table.

And sharing a table with others reminds us that there is more to the experience than fueling our bodies…we are also fueling our souls, our spirits, our relationships. Tables are one of the most important places of human connection. So it comes as no surprise to find that throughout the Bible, God has a way of showing up at tables.

This Sunday (Feb. 3rd) at Knox, we’ll gather around the communion table as we conclude our OPEN sermon series. An open communion table means that everyone is welcome to join in the sacrament and our message will address how an open table can facilitate new relationships and new life.

Our focus passage on Sunday comes from Matthew’s gospel and includes the words of Jesus as he institutes the Lord’s Supper. You can read the passage by clicking here:

The table is set and all are welcome to come, taste and see that the Lord is good!

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

 Well, this past year has been such a time of change – for me and my family, and for us as a congregation! For us, we said goodbye to our former congregation, which had been our spiritual home for 23 years, and we were warmly welcomed into our new church home here at Knox. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you all for making us feel so welcome and for allowing this transition to be a time of great joy.

I would also like to thank you for your patience as I adjust to a new rhythm of ministry.

I am very much looking forward to partnering with each one of you as we go forward into the future serving God, our community, and the wider world.

Despite all the change that we have experienced over these past months, the passage above from Hebrews assures us that the love of God expressed through Jesus never changes – it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This can give us hope as we deal with the uncertainty that often accompanies change, and it can give us courage knowing that we can go forward boldly because God is by our side.

To this end, I would like to encourage you to contact me at any time with ideas, suggestions, and dreams that you may have that could enhance our ministry at Knox.

Although we know that God’s love is constant, the way in which we share that love may change according to our context, so I’d love to hear from you. I am usually in the church office during the mornings and then head out for meetings or visits in the afternoons. It would be great to sit down with you and hear how you envision serving God and our community through our congregation.

I am looking forward to getting to know you all better in this coming year as we share together the joys and celebrations – along with the challenges and sorrows – of a life of faith. Please let me know if you’d like me to stop by for a pastoral visit. Even if we see each other most Sundays, it’s always nice to get together for a chat and get to know one another more personally.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Session, Board of Managers, our Minister Emeritus and retired ministers, our staff, and our Interim Moderator, Rev. Dr. Rick Horst, for easing me into life at Knox. We have set out on a new journey of faith, following the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and I’m so thankful to be taking this journey with you.

May the peace of Christ be with you always,



“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
Luke 2:19

These words from Luke’s gospel immediately follow the story of the birth of Jesus. The baby has arrived – along with the angels and shepherds – and Mary, the exhausted and overwhelmed new mama, spends time pondering. Pondering and reflecting upon the amazing event that has just taken place; an event that will change her life, and will change the world.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering lately; reflecting upon the ways in which our lives have changed dramatically over this past year. We are feeling extremely blessed that we’ve been called to serve Knox in Bracebridge and are excited to partner with you in this ministry. We have been warmly welcomed by the congregation and the community and are already feeling right at home. Thank you for the way in which you have embraced us. I also appreciate the patience you have extended to me as I learn the history and personality of our congregation.

All of my pondering about the events of this past year has not been completely happy and joy-filled. We have faced losses within our congregation and our family with the deaths of loved ones and friends. Within our Presbytery, we have seen churches close and congregations disperse. Globally, we have witnessed political unrest, extreme violence and natural disasters. These events, too, give us pause to ponder as we seek to see God in the midst of it all.

This Christmas, I invite you to take some time to ponder; to reflect upon the ways in which you have seen God at work in your life, within our congregation, and in the wider world. Ponder anew how God, the creator of all that is, is made visible through a tiny babe born to a poor, itinerant family in a volatile part of the world. And as you ponder, I pray that you would see how God has been very present through every day of this past year, and that you will be assured of that presence in the year ahead.

John and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your family for a very blessed Christmas, filled with joy, peace, and pondering.

Grace & Peace,


Hello, and welcome to Knox’s website! I’m glad you’ve joined us online and invite you to drop in and visit us in person as well. If you’re new to Bracebridge – or to Knox – then we have something in common! I’m the new minister at Knox and just began my new duties in early October, and we’re also new to Bracebridge, having recently moved here from Baxter (south-west of Barrie). There are many things about life in Muskoka that I truly love: the smell of pine and cedar when I step out my front door in the morning, the friendliness of those I meet while out walking our dogs, the inspiring landscape of rivers, rocks, and trees. The beauty of God’s creation is truly on display!

We are blessed to be able to worship God in the midst of all this beauty and so I invite you to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30am. Worship is informal and I trust that you will receive a message that will relate to the challenges and joys of everyday life. If Sunday’s don’t work for you, there’s lots going on at Knox throughout the week as well. Or feel free to drop by the church or contact me by phone, email, or facebook. I’m looking forward to connecting with our new community and discovering together how we can serve God by serving our neighbour.

Peace be with you,