Online Gathering Archive

The realities of the COVID-19 Pandemic have pushed our Sunday worship gatherings online for far longer than we could have ever imagined. Although we at The Commons would never have chosen to meet exclusively online the silver lining to this is that we have a very extensive record of the early days of our partnership & experiment with The Meeting Place. Our first day gathering as 2 churches with 1 gathering at the 541 Eatery & Exchange was our last day meeting in person.

It is interesting to note how quickly the gatherings started including multiple voices from both church communities. What started as a “one man show” quickly changed to be more and more diverse. It took some learning to utilize the technology. There are some quaint early gatherings with lofi life hacks and through out this journey we have valued participation over production. For anyone interested in peaking in on our journey here are the links to all our gatherings with a little bit of a story of what happened each Sunday: (We are still working on the formatting for some of this. Be patient if some of the info below looks a little strange. It is a work in progress)

Week 1:
First Gathering Together at 541 March 15, 2020
(In Person & Facebook Live)

This was the first week in our new partnership as 2 churches with 1 gathering. Although churches were still allowed to meet in person, people were already being advised by public health to social distance or stay home. We decided to give people the option of watching from home on facebook but wanted to meet in person for a number of reasons:

  • This was our first week in a new partnership. We wanted to give people the chance to get to know each other. We wanted people from The Commons to feel welcome in The Meeting Places’ gathering space (whether they showed up in person or watched from home).
  • We wanted to be able to communicate to The Meeting Place’s people the realities of the coming lock down. Many people who are a part of The Meeting Place do not have access to the internet or news updates. We wanted people to have a chance to be told by their church family what changes would be happening because of the Pandemic. Many meal programs in the city were also closing so we wanted to make sure people knew about the bag lunch line happening at 541 until the coffee house reopened.

Week 2:
First Sunday of the Pandemic – March 22nd, 2020
(Facebook Live)

Randy Neudorf (pastor of The Commons) hosted this from his living room. He reflected on verses from the Sermon on the Mount that talk about worry. Because we were unable to include any voices from The Meeting Place (due to technology) we used the ACTS Prayer model that we learned from The Meeting Place to acknowledge that we are 2 churches with 1 gathering.

Week 3:
Zoom Fail & Cardboard Life Hack – March 29th, 2020
(Facebook Live)

We tried using Zoom as a way to broadcast from multiple homes to Facebook Live. We thought we had it all figured out but last minute the technology failed. Lawren from The Meeting Place made a quick worship video recording and sent it to Randy from The Commons. A couple days before the lock down Randy brought home all of The Commons’ AV gear. With a lo-fi life hack we ended up projecting Lawren’s video onto a piece of cardboard and broadcasting it from Randy’s phone as our first attempt to get multiple households involved in the gathering. This gathering was a little more punk rock than professional and is a great example of our two communities being willing to make due.

Week 4:
Palm Sunday
– April 5th 2020
(Facebook Live)

This was the first week Sue Carr (the pastor from The Meeting Place) taught online. We still didn’t have all the tech figured out but Sue pre-recorded her message and we continued to use the life hack of projecting a video and rebroadcasting it from the same room as Zoe & Randy Neudorf who were leading the music and prayer times. Sue did a great job of connecting the story of Palm Sunday to the realities of the pandemic.

Week 5:
Easter Sunday – Our first day as one team! – April 12th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

It was very fitting that our first day truly functioning as a team was on Easter Sunday. We finally got Zoom working so that the music sounded right and we were able to connect the video to Facebook Live (Zoom was still really new and hard to use for some people). Both The Commons and The Meeting Place needed each other to put all the pieces in place. With 4 people leading from 4 different homes, Easter Sunday felt like new life was being breathed into our gatherings. The Meeting Place was now more fully represented and helping shape the gathering. Jason took on the tech side of things making sure the behind the seen things were running smoothly. Lawren led worship for the second time but was able to do so in real time. Cheryl led the prayer time as if it was happening in person at 541. From The Commons, Randy spoke about how sometimes resurrection and new life don’t feel like a celebration. He used some drawings as an object lesson to illustrate all the places this tension between life and death are played out in the Easter story.

Week 6:
The Lord’s Prayer – April 19th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

The Meeting Place is part of 24/7 Prayer Canada so there is a special emphasis on learning to pray in their gatherings. As we moved all our church interactions online we discovered that prayer was one of the few things that still felt “normal” online so we wanted to lean into that. Kyle started us off by teaching on The Lord’s Prayer.

Week 7:
Jason’s Prayer Journey – April 26th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Jason Kim has been an intern at The Meeting Place as part of his studies at McMaster Divinity College. Jason shared about what he had learned about prayer over the last few years.

Week 8:
First Online Communion: Meeting Place Style May 3rd, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Realizing that gathering online was going be a much longer endeavor than we originally planned we wanted to start having communion together. Since we were two churches with our own ways of doing things we thought we would introduce some of our style of communion to each other. For this first week Sue introduced us to the liturgy The Meeting Place had been using and talked about what communion has looked like for their community. We also started our series on Jesus’ Parables and Sue talked about a number of parables in the Gospel of Luke that talk about prayer.

Week 9:
2nd Online Communion – Mennonite Sharing LiturgyMay 10th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

This week was The Commons’ turn to share some of their style and flavour. Krista spoke on the Parable of the Workers in the Vinyard. Randy introduced a Mennonite liturgy that has been meaningful to The Commons. It is a “Sharing Communion” liturgy that gives space for people to pray and speak into the liturgy making it a unique experience every time. We also switched up our prayer practice. We continued with the ACTS prayer model from The Meeting Place but we meshed it with The Commons’ practice of answering each persons prayer with “Lord Hear Our Prayer.” The idea is that prayer can be simple, we don’t need to use fancy words or forms. When we speak our request, thought or feeling, that is the prayer, and we acknowledge and honour that by all responding together “Lord Hear Our Prayer.” This was also the first week where Lawren had the words up on the screen while he was leading worship. That might seem like a small thing but for us each of these firsts was a stepping stone in experimenting together.

Week 10:
Reflections on Sadness
– May 17th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

It was so nice to add more voices back into the mix. This could have easily been a Commons gathering at any other time of the year. The music was a mix of gospel and indie rock led by Jeanette Eby & Matt Thompson. Susan Neudorf shared a very personal and practical reflection on sadness in this time of loss due to the pandemic.

Week 11:
Shout Outs to the People Missing! – May 24th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

The Meeting Place & The Commons have been two churches that have worked hard to be places of inclusion. We seek for everyone (regardless of money, education and backgrounds) to have the opportunity be an equal participant in the church community. The pandemic messed that up. Gathering has only become accessible to those with the technology to meet online. We tried doing some “shout outs” to name and include some of our family that are missing. That way if people saw that person later in the week they could show the message to them from the gathering. People could also video messages from our missing family to show back to the group. It was a poor substitute for being all together but it illustrates the community’s desire to be whole. We did a shout out for Harold from The Commons. We also watched a video of Al from The Meeting Place. Cheryl continued our parable series with a reflection on the Mustard Seed & Leaven parables.

Week 12:
Pentecost Open Mic – May 31st, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Everyone makes a big celebration of Christmas and Easter, but we wanted to recognize the lesser known holiday of Pentecost with an open mic. We would have loved to have done this in person but we decided to utilize the online realities to their full potential by inviting people from our wider circles to join us. TrueCity friends like Peter Tigchelaar and Elise Arsenault joined in. Jared Both from London Ontario was also there. Jared use to live in Hamilton and is a friend of both The Commons & The Meeting Place. We even had one special guest sign up all the way from Europe. Half-handed Cloud (aka John Ringhofer ) lives in Finland with his family. He has a number of albums on Asthmatic Kitty Records. None of us knew John personally but Randy from The Commons is a big Half-handed cloud fan and noticed that some of John’s songs were about Pentecost. On a whim, Randy invited John to participate and for some strange (possibly Holy Spirit) reason he said yes.

Week 13:
Black Lives Matter Panel Discussion – June 7th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

The events that triggered the waves of #BlackLivesMatter protests across the world were front and center in everyone’s minds. Sometimes you need to be willing to change your plans. Alicia Wilson from The Meeting Place organized and hosted a Black Lives Matter panel discussion on very short notice. We wanted to create a space for our own people (and the wider community) to hear from Jesus followers with lived experience as people of colour. It was a very profound and timely gathering. If you are only going to watch one gathering from this time period this should be the one. We have two versions of this video posted:

Week 14:
Did God Shut the Doors of the Churches for a Reason? – June 14th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Continuing our focus on justice, Jason Kim shared some (dare I say) prophetic thoughts that connected COVID-19, Racism and how God has responded to injustice in the bible.

Week 15:
Justice Reflections – June 21st, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Sue Carr continued our focus on Justice by reflecting on National Indigenous Day and World Refuge Day which both took place on this weekend.

Here are the links to the videos Sue mentioned in her talk:

Week 16:
Bring Your Pet to Church Day! – June 28th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

For many of us our pets have been a great source of comfort during the pandemic. Randy encouraged people to have their animals with them while they joined the gathering on Zoom. People had a chance to introduce their furry friends to each other (super cute). Randy went on to introduce his family’s pets (Buddy the dog & Patches the cat). He talked about some “Kairos” moments (Holy Spirit moments) where God has used these animals to teach him how much God loves all of us.

Week 17:
The Meeting Place’s Origin Story – July 5th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

As two churches still trying to get to know each other we thought we would use this online experience as an opportunity to share some of our stories. We all have moments in time that have shaped us, they are the “remember the time” stories. The “reason why we do this” stories. The “why I ended up here” stories. We wanted to remind ourselves of our own stories and learn the stories of our new friends. Since all of our gatherings are being recorded by default right now we thought we might as well use this to our advantage to preserve our stories as we share them. Sue Carr starts off by telling the origin story of The Meeting Place. How they started at Mission Services, how they got their name, and how they ended up at 541.

Week 18:
Kyle & Mim’s Meeting Place Stories – July 12th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Kyle & Mim’s Beaty shared some of their early experiences becoming part of The Meeting Place & 541 community. Mim’s talked about how it all started with a dangerous prayer “God break my heart with what breaks yours.”

Week 19:
The Commons’ Musical Journey – July 19th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Randy shared some stores of how music has evolved over the years at The Commons and how the community has prioritized participation over performance. In many ways The Commons functions less like a church and more like a band where everyone gets to join in. Krista led our prayer time and helped add another first to our story. She asked us to respond with “Amen” after people said their prayers of Love & Thanksgiving. She shared that this practice of naming the good things was really helpful for her and she wanted to honour those prayers with something less somber than “Lord hear our prayer.”

Week 20:
Cheryl’s “How I got here story”
– July 26th, 2020

(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Cheryl Allaby shared how she ended up joining The Meeting Place and brought her story all they way up to the present and how she has found herself leading a whole gathering on Zoom. Our online prayer practice continued to evolve. Randy made signs that said “Lord Hear Our Prayer” and “Praise Be To God!” that we used in response to our different prayer topics.

Week 21:
Sue Carr’s Baptism Stories – August 2nd, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

God sometimes uses our individual circumstances to shape the practice of a church community. Sue’s Meeting Place baptism story illustrates this. The church didn’t plan on offering baptisms, it was one person that decided they wanted to be baptized that got the ball rolling. Eventually baptisms became a yearly trip to the lake that was one part party, one part picnic. one part vacation and one holy pilgrimage. Although this is the Meeting Place’s story, it is interesting to note how much of this resonates with The Commons. The Commons’ first baptism sparked many of the same questions Sue asked. There was a scrambling to figure out “how do we do a baptism?” all because one person surprisingly asked to be baptized. The Commons also had a yearly Beach Day. We would cancel gathering on Labour Day weekend and spend all Sunday at Fifty Point conservation area. For some Commoners this one day lake side vacation was looked forward to all year long. There is a lament by both communities that our crazy family Baptism & Beach Day trips to the lake won’t happen in 2020. There is a second lament in these stories, a deep lament that there are some of us where one day at the beach is the best day of the year. That is both beautiful and far from right at the same time.

Week 22:
Jeanette’s Freeway Story – August 9th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

The Commons evolved out of The Freeway church & coffee house. Much of our ethos and commitment to justice and community were born out of those early days on the corner for King & Wellington. Jeanette Eby shared her memories of that time and especially what she learned from Jenny, a “Freewayer” who taught us so much about friendship, inclusion, and creativity. Sadly Jenny passed away 2012 but her memory still has an impact on who we are as a church. For those of us who were around in The Freeway days we see a kinship in the work of The Meeting Place and 541 (a church and a coffee house) making space for people from all walks of life.

Week 23:
Krista’s Finding The Commons Story – August 16th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Krista Vanderhout is part of the leadership team at The Commons. She shared her story of how she found us through a TrueCity Conference and how it felt more like “coming home” than joining a new church. A big part of Krista’s story was all the interactions with other churches through TrueCity, GOHOP, and MCEC. All these relationships with the wider church are part of the story of how we were able to trust being in partnership with The Meeting Place. Embracing and partnering the wider church community (even when we differ) has been part of our DNA from day one.

This gathering also had a very special worship time provided by Aaron Riches. Aaron is a theologian Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He was also part of the band Royal City (an important southern Ontario indie band that a few of us our fans of) and Matt Thompson has kept him updated when ever we have used one of his songs or had an online open mic that he might be interested in. Aaron hasn’t been able to join us yet for an open mic but he offered to record some videos for us to use in our worship times. Instead of using any of his own songs he chose some 3 worship songs written in 3 different languages as a picture of what the church looks like. This is a great example of the diverse interconnections that Krista talked about in her story. Here is the English translation for each of the songs Aaron shared:

  1. “J’irai” (French) by Fr. Maurice Cocagnac
    I go on the way / on which so many have gone [before] /
    by faith and in doubt your / word has guided me.It is a way / that passes through the dessert / that God alone without doubt / can make green.
    It is a way / that passes through the night / which on our way / God illumines.
    The prophets / will make the paths straight / to bring us to the feast / those of good will.
  2.  Povera voce (Italian) by Adriana Mascagni
    Poor is the voice of one who doesn’t exist. / Such is our voice if it no longer has a reason. / It must cry out, implore / that life’s breath never cease.
    But it must sing out because there is life. / All of life pleads for eternity; / our voice which asks Love for life / can’t die, it can’t end.
    So ours is not a poor voice of a man who doesn’t exist. / It’s a voice that sings with a reason.
  3. “Ojos de cielo” (Spanish) by Víctor Heredia
    If I look into the depths of your tender eyes / The world is erased from me with all of its hell. / The world is erased and I discover heaven / when I dive into your tender eyes.
    Eyes of heaven, Eyes of heaven, / Don’t abandon me in mid-flight. / Eyes of heaven, eyes of heaven / all my life for this dream. / Eyes of heaven, Eyes of heaven.
    If I forget the truth, / if I am estranged from what is most sincere, / your heavenly eyes will remind me, / if I distance myself from the truth.
    If the sun that shines on me would go out one day / and a dark night should overcome my life, / your heavenly eyes would [still] illumine /  your sincere eyes are my way and guide.

Week 24:
Prayer Gathering  – August 23rd, 2020
(In person at Woodlands park)

Our first in person socially distanced gathering was a huge success. We broke up into small groups to pray together and share stories of where we have been seeing God. Our gatherings are in partnership with The Meeting Place Church at 541. We started our partnership just as in person gatherings were canceled. For some of us this was the first time we had ever seen each other in the flesh. We also had a number of people who don’t have access to the internet come out. For them this was the first time their church was open in 5 months! Everyone agreed we should continue doing this once a month until we are able to be back inside at 541.

Week 25:
Carmen’s Meeting Place Story – Aug 30th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Carmen shared her story about how she was slowly coaxed into being more and more involved with The Meeting Place & 541. This was also a week where we had some surprising news from Randell Neudorf from The Commons. He announced that he will be starting a new job with GOHOP and his last day as the pastor of The Commons will be on Oct 4th, 2020. You can read more about that transition here.

Week 26: – Upcoming
Westview’s Story – Sept 6th, 2020
(Pre Recorded Facebook Video)

Week 27: – Upcoming
Gathering Planning Meeting – Sept 13th, 2020

Week 28: – Upcoming
More Info Coming Soon – Sept 20th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Week 29: – Upcoming
More Info Coming Soon – Sept 27th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

Week 30: – Upcoming
Blessing & Sending Gathering – Oct 4th, 2020
(Zoom & Facebook Live)

More gathering stories and links coming soon.
Find all our Gathering Videos posted here:

CLICK HERE to join us in real time for one of our online gatherings:

Story / Song / Supper with Jon Corbin

A community Potluck & House Show with The Commons.
Bring some food to share and listen to the Music & Stories of Jon Corbin.

Jon Corbin (formerly known as The Runaway) is a Canadian hip-hop & spoken word artist with lyrical themes of faith, love, family, social justice, and personal growth. Corbin is a veteran artist who has quietly carved a niche in Canada’s hip-hop community, collaborating with multiple Polaris Music Prize nominee Shad, Juno Award winner Caroline Brooks of The Good Lovelies, and many other revered emcees on both sides of the border. Over the past 12 years, Jon has performed on stages big and small, providing a dynamic show that represents the basic tenets of hip-hop: peace, love, unity, and having fun! Jon lives in Milton, Ontario with his wife and five children.

Story / Song / Supper
6pm – Sun. April. 29th
128 Hughson St. N.

COST: This is a FREE EVENT but bring some money to buy a CD or give a tip to musician.

All Ages Show // Everyone Welcome.
Accessible entrance at the back of the building.
Lots of Free parking in our lot and on the street.

Facebook Event Page: Click Here