Dear Spring Garden Family

by Lily Cheng

Dear Spring Garden Family,

This will be my last month on the pastoral team at Spring Garden Church in the Community & Mission role where I have spent the last 7 months. Alan and I would like to thank our pastoral team and congregation for the care, friendship and support I received as I sought to serve, support our Co-Lead Pastors during this interim period and do the things God placed upon my heart. When I first started this journey, God gave me two words - “Ignite” and “Conduit.”

Because of the defined nature of my time at Spring Garden, I felt that igniting the congregation in caring for our surrounding community was the best approach. My hope is through initiatives like the Community Yard Sale, Easter Community Brunch and Egg Hunt, Yonge Street Tragedy Community Dinners, Lasagna for Single Moms and the Single Moms Mother’s Day Banquet, our congregation had the opportunity to see the blessing potential we hold when we open up our doors to our surrounding community. I pray you will carry the baton forward collectively as the church discerns next steps, not just for how the church is governed internally, but God’s purpose for us in loving our neighbours.

The second word Conduit was harder for me to understand, but as the above mentioned ministries unfolded, I realized that as a church, we have great potential to be a conduit of blessing. For both the Single Moms Mother’s Day Banquet and The Willowtree Summer Camp we were a conduit to bring resources from the greater community towards kingdom purposes to bless those in need in our community. It was exciting to see God bring the resources needed to make this all happen.

It is hard for me to believe this is now my last month in this role. My prayers for this month are about a positive transition for our church and for my family. Transitions for pastors are never easy because there is such a blurry line between friendship and ministry. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in how I care for those I love while also recognizing my season in this pastoral role has been completed.

Many of you have asked me, will my family continue at Spring Garden? This is something Alan and I are already praying about and will continue to pray until it is clear to us. We are grateful for how our family has been welcomed and how our children feel at home at Spring. It would be very natural and easy for us to continue. However, we want to go through an intentional discernment process together to make sure we are not simply doing what is easy, but honouring God’s desire for our family. For the first month or two we will be stepping away to seek clarity and for me to fully take off my “pastor” hat. I will however, continue to attend and serve in the ReFresh group.

The second question many are asking me is “What is next?” God has begun to show me a vision for what is next in my life of ministry. I will be working towards crystallizing this vision and look forward to sharing it with you in a future edition of Delve. In the meantime, I invite you to join me in praying for the following ministries God has placed in my hands and heart: North York Moms, Single Moms Toronto, Willowdale Church Coalition, the Willowtree Community and the Willowdale Action Group.

What do you do when you don’t know exactly where you are going? Ask God to show you the next steps. He may not give you the entire map or 5 year plan, but God is usually pretty good at telling you what to do next. It could be “wait”, it could be taking a few steps of obedience, it could be seeking advice from some wise counsel. When you don’t know what to do, do what you know. The simplest obedience is spending time in quiet reflection and listening with Jesus. This will be my posture as I contemplate the future. I hope you will join me in this beautiful invitation.

Some of you may be going through a season of transition right now. It is not easy to move forward when the future is unclear. But in my experience, it is seasons of transition that really deepen our walks with God and help us to grow faith muscles we never knew we had. If you are going through transition and would like to pray together, please email me and we can set up a time to meet:

Thanks again for the love and support I have received walking with you individually and collectively. I will be praying with you and for you as God reveals His exciting plans for this next season at our church.

Much love,

Lily (and Alan, Carter & Freesia)

We Remember - Morale Mail Project


Did you know that Canadian soldiers serve in many places in the world even when we are not actively "at war"? Some are stationed to help teach, some to maintain boundaries in sea and air and others to monitor situations that are brewing. The one common thing with the soldiers of today with those in the past is the boredom, homesickness and uncomfortable living conditions. Last year we partnered with the charity (Toronto) Military Families Resource Centre (TMFRC) to send boxes of needed items and treats to soldiers overseas, Because a solider can only carry essentials both in the field and when assigned to quarters they are always happy to receive a fresh supply of Canadian snacks like ketchup chips and needed items like socks. Other items that are appreciated are flavouring for water, crossword puzzles, fresh wipes, hard candy for a dry climate...the list is extensive.

This year we would like to offer this chance to serve others again.

What we do is:

We provide you a box to fill with various items - cost can be as low as 25 dollars depending on what you choose to send. We will give you a large list from which to choose. You may customize your box for either a male or female recipient..

  • Children (and adults) are free to put notes and letters into the boxes and decorate the boxes.

  • The boxes are collected and the TMFRC ships the boxes via. military transport overseas at no cost to us.

  • Please check in with Cliff or Victoria Shipmaker to reserve your box.

Call/text/email Victoria: 647 444 9320

Due date for boxes: Sunday, November 10, 2019.

Above is an example of the box and what you could fit in it.

Above is an example of the box and what you could fit in it.

SGC 70th Anniversary Articles

Bill and Myrna April 2000

Bill and Myrna April 2000

My Spring Garden Journey

by Myrna Frost

When my husband Bill and I were married in 1961 and lived in our home on Church Avenue, we drove around Willowdale looking for a Baptist Church and discovered Spring Garden. We liked it from the first Sunday when Bill Sturgess was preaching and decided that Spring would be our church home. Soon Bill and I were involved in the Friday Night Youth Group with lots of kids from the Willowtree Housing Development. Our daughter Heather was born in 1966 and we adopted our son Andy in 1970. These were very busy years but several moms got together regularly at the church with their kids. One very special friendship that lasted decades was with Joy White and her husband Gord. Bill Lewis was the pastor then and we really enjoyed his thought-provoking sermons. The church was overflowing with 2 morning services and an evening service. Bill and I taught Sunday School and I eventually became the Childrens' Ministry leader. This was a good fit for me as I was a teacher with the former North York Board of Education. Heather was baptized in 1982 and I officially joined the church with her at that time. In the late 80's Bill and I connected with the Cell group led by Louise and Bruce Bell. We enjoyed many years of wonderful fellowship, Bible Study, prayer and fun with outings to the cottages of Hank and Leila Krupf and Doug and Judy Mewett. The minister at this time was Gordon Dalzell who impressed us with his intellect and inspiring sermons. His ministry was followed by John McLaverty and John Stevenett who both became very dear friends. I continued working with children assisting Miriam Little who became the Childrens' Ministry Director. Together we started Rainbows for Children, a ministry that helped children cope through the grief of losing a parent or the trauma of divorce.

In 1990 Bill and I opened our Florist Business and created wedding flowers for many Spring brides ; Marie and Kendall Fullerton, and Greg and Monica Kay to name two.

When Rick Wukasch came in the early 90's he encouraged me to lead worship and to write Liturgy for the services. This has been very fulfilling for me and I have been blessed to have this opportunity. I served as the worship deacon for 3 terms during the Music leadership of Paul Osmond. Nellie Shin and Greg Kay. In 2009 Ruth Thompson Trish Wilkinson and I worked together to celebrate the the 50th anniversary of Spring.

John Dozois came as our interim pastor to lead us after the resignation of John McLaverty. His wisdom and spiritual guidance helped us through a challenging transition time until Gene Tempelmeyer arrived. Bill was baptized in 2004.

I attended Refresh (formerly Wednesday Women ) for many years taking my grandson Gabriel along to play with the the other kids. I became part of the Prayer Team which I have always been called to do. I have enjoyed the worship at Spring as it has transitioned from the formal services of the 60's to the more contemporary worship style of today.

My life has been so blessed by the friendships I have made throughout at the years here at Spring. When my husband Bill developed Alzheimers disease and went to live at Carefree lodge for 7 years many faithful people visited him ; Faith Holwyn, Gonzalo Librado and Dale Houser. Gene came once a month to share communion with us which was such a blessing. When Bill died in 2016 I was overwhelmed by the love and generosity shown to me and my family by this church. I am so grateful for the support I received throughout Bill's illness and my years of widowhood.

In 2009 I began attending the Thursday Bible Study led by Margaret Sutton and currently by Victoria Shipmaker. This time to share with other women has been a treasure in my life.

It is my prayer that Spring Garden will continue to thrive and show God's love to those who worship here and shine a light into the community and that I will be around to share in it. It has been a marvelous 58 year journey.

Love and Blessings to my Spring Garden family,

Myrna Frost

Spring Garden Church Worship Hall 1972

Spring Garden Church Worship Hall 1972

Memories of Singing in the

Spring Garden Choir

by Anne Barron

Music, worship, singing praise to God has had a long tradition at Spring Garden. I remember vividly my first Sunday at Spring Garden in June 1986. The service was filled will glorious organ music, hymns of praise, an inspiring soprano solo and an excellent choir anthem. I had been searching for a church for about 6 months and as a music student I realized I had found my home.

That September I joined the choir. With over 30 singers, the choir sang an anthem each Sunday as part of the worship service. Many times, Alan Wiseman, the music Director at the time, would compose special anthems for us to sing. We performed large cantatas, including Handel’s Messiah and other special music for Christmas and Easter services. Joining with other church choirs to perform at the North York Center, Massey Hall and “Skydome” for the Billy Graham Crusade are all wonderful memories of making music together.

The choir really functioned like a life group. We came together on Thursday nights to practice music, but also to pray for each other and to support each other through life. Weddings, the birth of children, illness, supporting a member going to the mission field brought us closer together. We had lots of laughs along the way as well; every week something would happen that had us all laughing and enjoying some fun. We tried to work hard and be serious, but some of us were often caught talking during practice instead of following our parts. We had potluck dinners with tasty deviled eggs or one time with at least 7 different kinds of potato salad. Through singing together, we forged strong friendships that have lasted for 30, 40, 50 years.

Slowly the Choir dwindled and gave way to worship teams as the culture of worship music changed over the years. Some of us who were choir members continue to make music together as members of the worship team; praising God and continuing to make memories through music.


Life Happens Here

by Peggy Moore

In 1963, fifty-six years ago, I moved with my parents, Douglas and Doris Gonder, from Winnipeg to Willowdale and they chose Spring Garden Baptist Church as our home church for worship and service. Rev. Bill Sturgess was our pastor, and my parents were very active in leadership. I remember attending Youth Group, and playing the piano. Some of the other ‘youths’ still attend SGC! As a teen, I was baptized at SGC. In 1971, Geoff and I were married at SGC by Rev. Bill Lewis. Over the years we were a part of many small groups, and some of those in our groups still attend. Each of our three children were dedicated to the Lord at SGC. The older two remember going downstairs during worship time to attend Junior Church led by our ‘Auntie Vi’, (Violet Roberts) and Olive Skeith. The funeral services for my father and, 10 years later, for my mother were held at SGC. Through the times of tears, we were supported and loved. Our youngest son, Scott, was baptized as a teen at SGC (the older two chose MiniYoWe camp for their baptisms). In 2004, our daughter, Monica, was married to Gregory Kay (the Worship Pastor!) at SGC. In recent years, all seven of our Toronto granddaughters have been dedicated to the Lord at SGC.

But SGC has been more than milestones and memories for me. Over the 56 years, there have been times of change and challenge, renovations and revival, hurts and hope, the ups and downs of life in community....and God has been faithful. This is my church family, our church home where we can give and receive, and I am so grateful for it.

Why do we have Faith at the Table?

We believe that God has created us to be in community. In Christ, we are a part of a larger family than just our immediate family. This family of God is made up of people of all ages and stages. None of us can say that we are complete on our own but need one another. One of the ways in which we can build community is through eating together. Sharing the table with others is a sign of inclusion, a sign of hospitality, and a sign of Jesus who welcomes all to His table.

This is why we want to be intentional in bringing all the generations together for a time of breaking bread and being with each other. This November, we have Dr. Holly Allen, who will be leading us in a time of breaking bread and being an intergenerational community. Her book is being used as textbook in many universities and we are excited to have her lead us. In her book, she has a section where she talks about the benefit of intergenerational communities and how each life stage can benefit from being part of such a community. One of her main points is that intergenerational communities create opportunities to enhance each other’s faith and psycho-social development. This is mutually beneficial in that each generation can grow and support one another. Here are some bullet points from her book of the ways in which each generation can benefit from being part of an intergenerational community:


  • Children learn by imitation and need older mentors to emulate

  • Children need other significant adult relationships besides their parents


  • Need support as they negotiate Erikson’s identity vs. role confusion crisis

  • Wisdom & encouragement while navigating transitions from childhood to adolescence

Emerging Adults

  • Physical, emotional, psychological & spiritual support when facing difficult situations

  • Opportunities to serve outside their bubble

Young Adults

  • Opportunity to find examples and mentors among those further ahead on the journey

  • Support for transition into responsibilities of adulthood

Middle Adults

  • Physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support when facing grief or loss: teen pregnancy, a child on drugs, divorce, job loss, disability, etc.

  • Opportunities to pour into the next generation of young parents

Older Adults

  • Opportunities to bless children & teens with unconditional love & acceptance

  • Opportunities to be examples and mentors

A good question that we can ask ourselves is how many intergenerational relationships are we a part of? It does not need to happen all the time, but it should be a part of our social group. This is a good question that I need to ask as a parent of my own children. Do they have other people in their lives that are not of the same generation? How can I foster and create opportunities where different generations can speak into the lives of my children? We hope that you can utilize this November event as a way to practice being part of an intergenerational community where we can eat together and grow together. For more information and/or to sign up, please go to our Events Page or click here.

Where two or more are gathered...

Cell Group, House church, Small Group, Bible Study Group, I have been to many iterations of what we at Spring Garden call Life Groups. Life Group is a great way to describe what we hope these groups do - which is to share life together. Contrary to popular belief, life groups do not have to study the bible. While it can be a component of how a group spends time together, other groups spend time in prayer and sharing.

Life is not easy. Busyness is also a facet of the current culture. There are so many things that need to be done. Yet...there is an invitation to sit at the feet of Jesus and I believe part of that sitting is in community. Where two or more or gathered, there He shall be. God knows we need each other, and it is when we are meeting with each other that we often encounter God’s wisdom, grace and love.

Churches often talk about Acts 2:42-47 as a model for how we should gather. Selflessly, devotedly and daily. How do we fit this into our modern context? I don’t believe there is a formula that fits everyone. However, I do believe it begins with intention. Do we desire to gather with other believers and experience God’s presence in community? If so, God will guide our steps. Whatever form it takes, there are three qualities that can help us connect in a meaningful way when we gather.

Solitude. It may seem like an oxymoron, but solitude is the key to healthy community. When we have spent the time we need with God and the Word, we are much less likely to approach community from a place of unhealthy neediness. Instead, we come into community saturated in His love and able to give love to others in a healthy way.

Commitment. There is a great analogy used about putting different items like baseballs, golf balls and sand into a jar. The larger the item, the bigger the priority. If the big things don’t go in first, they cannot be stuffed in when the jar is filled with the little things. Similarly, as we establish our fall schedules may we consider what our baseballs are before filling in the sand. May we consider holding a sacred time for gathering as a priority. It takes time to walk into each other's lives and hearts. We can be tourists in each others lives with the occasional Sunday coffee time conversation or we can be part of each other’s stories by meeting regularly to share the highs and lows.

Vulnerability. It is so easy for us to talk about weather, news, and other people’s business. Sometimes we can even hide ourselves with deep theological discussions. But the real reward in community happens when we dare to reveal our weakest parts. In doing so, we give permission to those around us to be imperfect which opens the door for the entire group to encounter the grace of Jesus.

I have weathered many storms in different life groups across churches, denominations and countries. As I look back on this journey, I am so grateful for all those who have prayed with me, wept with me and comforted me through difficult seasons. I have also been blessed to do the same for others. We need each other. We were made to need each other and in coming together, God reveals Himself in ways that cannot be experienced when we try to get through life alone.

I pray you would first seek God’s heart for you and for your family. What does deeper community life look like to you in this season? Perhaps you would consider joining or starting a life group? The invitation is open and all are welcome at the table.

by Lily Cheng

A Small (but Great) Miracle

Little did we know when we postponed our community yard sale to July, that it would land on the hottest day of the summer. Added to this was the risk of thunderstorms in the forecast. To cancel or not to cancel. To move indoors, or not move indoors. These were the questions I wrestled with on Saturday, July 20. With a look to the sky and much prayer, I decided we would stay outside. Thankfully the early morning was overcast which provided some relief from the heat - until there were some ominous clouds that started to appear.

At 10am I received a call from my husband who was near Kenneth and Church, only a few streets north of our church. He said it had started to rain and I had better prepare. So, I dutifully handed out garbage bags for people to cover their goods. Miraculously, the rain never came our way. Instead, the clouds cleared and we were left in the sweltering heat, which was still challenging, but much better than a downpour. I am grateful for answered prayer that day.

Another miracle for which I am grateful is a family volunteer team that appeared from a nearby condo. They had seen our posters and reached out to me about serving. They turned out to be amazing volunteers. They helped hang signs at major intersections in the morning, moved tables under the hot sun and stayed until the very end. I pray there would be more opportunities to engage them in our community in the coming months.

I also want to give thanks to our summer interns who put on a wonderful carnival for the kids in the community along with Jeremy Ranasinghe who helped to feed our guests and vendors at the BBQ. Lastly, I’d like to thank Lyndsey Critch and Karen Galivanes who helped me get the word out by hanging posters up around the neighbourhood.

In a world where much of our economy is based on the proliferation of “stuff,” providing our neighbours with a chance to sell and exchange their goods is a great way to meet them and provide an opportunity to care for our creation by reducing the need to buy things brand new. Several of our vendors expressed interest in participating again if we were to plan another one in the future. Prayerfully it will not be on one of the hottest days of the summer!

By Lily Cheng

When churches come together, God’s glory shines through.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to witness the power of church unity as several churches in our community came together to minister to the children living in Willowtree - a community housing complex in our neighbourhood.

This year both Toronto City Mission and Youth Unlimited ended the camps that had previously been running in this vulnerable community for different reasons. As a result, the children were left without any summer programming. As I considered the care and resources my own family had devoted to planning my kids’ summer holidays, I felt it was important to try and fill this gap. It was the beginning of June and we only had one month to make this happen.

Because of the relationships that have been built through the We Love Willowdale movement following the Yonge Street Tragedy, many of the churches in Willowdale worked together as a coalition to address this need in our community. I was also able to tap into some resources from North York Moms and community members I had met during my election campaign.

As a result of our efforts, $22K was raised that allowed the hiring of two staff dedicated to the children in Willowtree and we were able to provide camp for over 30 kids for up to 6 weeks. Although there were some challenging moments, it was a joy for me to be able to work with my brothers and sisters across our community to make this happen. A highlight for me was seeing a group of Willowtree kids take to the stage at Willowdale Baptist Church singing and dancing to worships songs alongside other children from the community, including my daughter who also attended the camp.

Without this camp initiative, many of these kids would have been left unsupervised the entire summer without the learning opportunities and mentorship provided by camp. Our hope for this camp was for the children to know that they are loved and valued by God and by the community, for them to learn some new things and experience a level of integration with children from the greater community.

I would like to give special thanks to Willowdale Pentecostal who stretched to bring the kids into their camp for 4 of the 6 weeks. Other churches that made this summer possible: Spring Garden Church, Peoples Church, Willowdale Baptist Church North York Chinese Baptist Church, Faith Church & Broken Bread Church.

I had the privilege of going on one of the field trips with the kids. Many of them did not bring a lunch, although they had been instructed to do so. Jeff Barker, who has worked in the community for many years, said this is not uncommon and many of these kids go to school hungry.

It is hard to believe this is happening in our church neighbourhood surrounded by multi-million dollar homes and many Christian churches. As we consider the future of this community, one where currently there is no after school program or homework club planned for the first time in many years, I pray the churches in Willowdale would rise up to the challenge to care for these children.

At the same time, I believe there is much we can learn from the families who live in this community. While sitting in the park at Willowtree one day I met a young man who is autistic. His eyes were gentle and he had a unique way of greeting each person with a special handshake. I watched as many who walked by stopped to greet him. I later found out that after he lost his mom, a family in Willowtree has adopted him and cares for him. They have truly lived out the verse, “love your neighbour as yourself.” May we also seek to do the same.

I would also like to thank Greg and Spring Garden leadership for allowing me to champion this. It took up more of my time than expected and I was given a measure of grace and flexibility to do this.

by Lily Cheng