Category Archives: Letters from the Minister

A Note from the Interim Moderator (May 12, 2017)

Since Rev. Blaikie’s retirement 2 ½ months ago, congregational life has continued in a healthy way. You journeyed through Lent and celebrated Easter. You supported one another during moments of joy and times of sorrow. You cared for the sick and extended help to those in need. You continued to make offerings of your time, gifts, and presence in worship and praise of God, and in support of Christ’s ministry in and through Saint Andrew’s, including its various ministry groups and committee.

I understand there are questions and even some anxiety regarding the future of ministry at Saint Andrew’s. A number of you have wondered why a search committee is not yet in place, or why is it taking so long to find another minister. Although reasons were explained at the onset of the vacancy, ongoing communication is critical and session and I are committed to providing more frequent updates.

The delay in establishing a search committee was intentional. You have just ended a ministry relationship that endured over a quarter century. A grace period needed to be put in place to allow time for transition. This vacancy also began during a critical time from a worship perspective, i.e., Lent and Easter, and our attention was rightly focused on Christ’s death and resurrection.

The pastoral search has often been compared to dating and the calling of a minister, marriage. The task of calling the right minister is difficult and is not comparable to staffing a position in a business.

In Psalm 127, the psalmist writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.” The search for a new minister must be grounded in the search to discern what is the will of God. The search is a spiritual exercise and our call as a congregation is discern God’s will for Christ ministry’s in and through this congregation and to trust that God will provide for the ministry to which we have been called. This is about seeking God’s will and God’s provision. It is a Christ-centered task, not congregation-centered (i.e., rooted in our own agendas and judgment).

In anticipation of the work to be undertaken with a pastoral search – and the spiritual nature of this task – a grace period was established with a goal of putting the search committee in place this fall. The reasons for doing so were to give the congregation time to pray, to grieve, to reflect on its mission and values, and to ensure that the congregation is ready (in terms of congregational relations, stewardship, and spiritual health) in order to move forward in the search. This time would also allow us to address certain pastoral and leadership needs within the congregation, making space for individuals to consider affirming and growing in their faith by way of becoming a professing member (an act which would impact their role in elder elections and calling a minister) as well as conducting elder elections.

At Monday’s session meeting, the session decided it would postpone elder elections until the fall and establish a search committee this month. Session recognized that congregational life has been moving forward post-vacancy in a healthy way. Establishing a search committee now would provide opportunity to train the new committee and enable the committee to develop an action plan for gathering information over the summer to feed into a congregational analysis and church profile that will be circulated when we begin advertising the ministry position.

Note: Although we are prepared to move ahead in the establishment of a search committee, the search committee to be formed has much work to do before it can proceed to advertise the vacancy. When we have a completed profile – and assuming the preliminary work undertaken by the search committee continues to affirm the congregation is in a health position to move forward with a posting – the Interim Moderator – on session’s behalf – will seek Presbytery’s support in the fall to begin the search. If the congregational analysis and preliminary legwork undertaken by the search committee suggests that there are matters that need to be addressed before beginning a search, the session will revisit next steps and seek Presbytery’s counsel as appropriate.

All that being said, the session will meet on Wednesday, May 17 with the goal of establishing a search committee. What should a search committee look like?

  • Members must be committed to discerning the voice of God speaking to us.
  • A commitment to prayer is essential.
  • Members should be objective (for example, perception should not be biased by previous pastor, personal agendas, etc.)
  • Members should be individuals who not only care about the church and its future, but also wish to grow in faith (the search committee experience can be spiritually renewing)
  • Members should be humble and teachable.
  • Members must be discerning and diligent. The search committee is not evaluating only the candidates (the candidates are also evaluating the congregation). The committee must also examine the congregation to discern what sort of candidate is needed and they must be able to understand and the tell the story of the congregation, including its needs and its values.
  • Members must be able to persevere as the search process takes take and commitment and can sometimes involve obstacles.
  • The committee must have a balanced representation of gender, age, and ethnic mix, as well as nature of congregational ties (e.g., professing member adherent, relatively new, longer-term relationship with congregation, representation in congregational groups).

If you would like to be considered for the search committee, please speak with one of the elders.

As a congregation moving forward, your commitment is needed in these ongoing areas:

  • Your faith example helps tell the story about your congregation’s values and ministry. Faithful worship, prayers, offerings of gifts and presence, fellowship building, and serving help make for healthy congregational life and relationship with God.
  • Providing input into the congregational analysis that will help form the congregational profile to be circulated to prospective candidates.
  • Pray for the formation of your pastoral search committee. Pray for patience and that we would all wait for God’s timing. Pray that all will have the mind of Christ and that decisions and behaviors will be faithful to the Word of God. Pray for wisdom to choose the right minister. Pray that God would prepare your minister and for the congregation that your new minister will leave. Pray for unity. Pray that we will conform to God’s will and experience the joy that God’s provision provides.
  • Pray for spiritual direction. Even in transitions and waiting, there are opportunities for renewal. There are opportunities to prepare for a new chapter in ministry, just as we prepare for a marriage or birth. Now is a great time to be more intentional about nurturing stewardship needs, reflection on our ministry values, and growing in service.

I pray that this update will offer some insight and clarity.
May God bless us and guide us as we continue worshiping and serving.

Rev. Wendy MacWilliams


  • Dear Friends,

    I announced my retirement effective March 1, 2017, having served Saint Andrew’s congregation for twenty-five years and seven months. Our four children (Mark, Brad, Krista, Jeremy) grew up within the congregation.  They were involved with youth events as well as regular attendance at worship.  They have fond memories of life in Fredericton and within Saint Andrew’s church.  At one time Holly and I rented a 14 passenger and drove some of our youth to Toronto for a conference. Outings to Mount Carleton, Fundy National Park, baseball games, and other activities will be a a part of our memory for years to come.  Our children are now living away. Mark is in Ontario, Bradford in PEI.  Krista is in the Yukon and Jeremy lives in NS.  We have nine grandchildren we do not see often enough.

    We have accomplished much together. Many study groups have met throughout the years.  Hundreds of Baptisms, weddings, and funerals have taken place.  Times of celebration have been held. Suppers, pot luck luncheons.  So many concerts and special services within the greater Fredericton community have been meaningful and important.

    To make this decision has been difficult because I have loved being part of such a caring community.  During the past twenty five years we have been able to meet our commitments to Presbyterians Sharing, and support the relief work of Presbyterian World Service and Development.  We sent  a nine person team to the Cameroon and helped with the building of a new church. Campaigns such as Live the Vision provided financial assistance for the national church’s ministry.  This past year we supported a refugee family from Syria. We have been blessed by this ministry and their presence in the community. Other projects such as the refurbishment of the organ, the updating of the kitchen, shingling the roof are an indication of good stewardship. The property is in good repair thanks to the diligent oversight of the Board of Managers.

    We have discussed issues concerning refugees, as well as the LGBTQ community.  We try to be a welcoming and inclusive congregation. We have acknowledged the need to work closely with others in our community.  We have become, even recently, much more aware of the need to work with First Nations communities and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.  We have engaged youth and young families through the hiring of youth leaders.  We see ministry to youth as a vital part of the life and work of the congregation. We are thankful for the music ministry carried on throughout the years. There are those who lead our Summer Bible School program, and those who volunteer in so many different ways. We are grateful for the many volunteers who give of their time and talent. Teachers in our church school lay the foundation for learning. Holly has enjoyed being a part of the Church School program and helped in establishing and implementing new curriculum.

    The Session will work with our Presbytery in selecting an interim moderator to oversee the work of the congregation. A search committee selected by Session will be formed. The search committee will eventually recommend a candidate to preach for a call to Saint Andrew’s and serve as your minister. You will have an opportunity to meet the person both informally and at a worship service.  The congregation will make the final decision.

    On a personal note, I would like to thank you for your support and co-operation. Holly and I will continue living in New Maryland.  

    It has been a joy to serve as your minister.  

    The Reverend Douglas E. Blaikie

       1 John 4: 7-10

Anniversary Letter 2016

June 2016

Dear members and friends of Saint Andrew’s congregation:

During the month of June we are Celebrating 191 years of Presbyterian presence within the greater Fredericton area. An Anniversary Envelope is available and provides an opportunity for ongoing support beyond the regular weekly offerings.

I have noticed on the inside of the door in several businesses the following instruction. “Make sure door is unlocked during business hours.” One might wonder what event prompted the need for such advice. Perhaps one day an astute clerk noticed business was slow, and after some consideration checked the door. But the slow sales could also have been for a number of reasons, including unfriendly service, lack of advertised products, or no advertising at all. But we all agree that it is important that the door be unlocked.

It is not just the physical lock on the door that needs the attention of congregations but the need for openness and welcome. Our churches are blessed when others come to visit.

Usually they are unannounced. Perhaps they are visiting in the area with friends or family. Perhaps it is a business trip or perhaps they are looking for a church to call home.

St. Paul wrote instructions for the early church: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour…be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12:9-13)

Here at Saint Andrew’s hospitality and welcome often begin at curbside. Persons are made to feel welcome and are directed to parking spaces. They are sometimes assisted to overcome weather related conditions. A friendly greeter outside reflects how the people inside feel about welcoming. And that welcome extends beyond visitors to all members. Over the years Saint Andrew’s congregation has been blessed with caring and loving individuals. This is reflected in the small groups such as choir and Ladies Groups, and Board and Session. Saint Andrew’s is also home to a number of outside groups. Perhaps they are here on an ongoing basis or for a one-time event. They are an important part of our congregation and every effort is made to make them feel welcome.

Opening doors for business is important but opening the doors of our hearts is central to the life and work of the Church. Whether it is welcoming the refugee or a stranger from down the street. Whether it is a welcome extended to persons looking for a church home or someone looking for assistance, it is the nature of the church to be open. Open not only to those who are “like” us or who believe as we do, or act in the way we think they should. At the heart of the Gospel is an unconditional welcome extended to one and all.

And so the mission and witness of the church continues, sometimes in complex and difficult ways. But it always begins with the words of Jesus: Come unto me all…and I will provide rest. (Matthew 11:28)

May God’s love be fixed upon you, overshadow you with grace;
May God’s love stand firm beneath you, welcome you with glad embrace.

(Book of Praise #582, stanza 1)

Sincerely, and on behalf of Session and Board,
The Reverend D. E. Blaikie, minister

Advent 2015

Dear members and friends:

“Maybe, the Grinch thought, Christmas doesn’t come from a store”

When we think of beginnings and fresh starts we often think of New Years Day. Or perhaps we may think about early September and the new school year. The  Church also has its seasons and special days. The Advent season marks the beginning of a church year. This is when we hear, in a focused way, the birth narratives from the Gospels – stories of John the Baptist, heavenly announcements, and the nativity. Looking back we cannot separate the beginning from the end. The cradle and cross are bound together as they proclaim the Good News of the Messiah.

Stories and symbols of the Advent season remind us that wonder and mystery surround us. We are reminded about our understanding of God, and  us how we are to relate to others. The Apostle John, in his prologue to the Gospel, tells us that God literally “pitched his tent among us.”

During this season the church proclaims the Good News through the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. Over the next several weeks we will have opportunity to worship and reflect, to gather for concerts or for a meal. And we will celebrate even in the midst of hardship and uncertainty. For if anything is central to the Christmas story it is that Jesus was born into a troubled world.

From the Christmas story comes a tradition of giving. And it is here we are reminded of the poverty that surrounds us. It is at this time of the year that we are again reminded of mission and outreach.

The Mission Development/Social Action Committee meets through the year to consider mission projects and respond to requests. This year a decision was made to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. They made a recommendation to Session. The Session  attempted to gauge the support found within our congregation. A pledge form was distributed and a decision made to proceed with the application. We are waiting. Waiting is part of the message of Advent. It is not a passive waiting but an active waiting. Preparations are being made.

Our prayer is the same as  one expressed in a 13th century Latin text:

Oh come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart, one mind;

Bid envy, strife, and discord cease, and be thyself our source of peace.

More information will appear in the weekly Sunday bulletin. Thank you for your ongoing support of the work of our congregation.


The Reverend Douglas E. Blaikie

Anniversary Letter 2015

Dear members and friends of Saint Andrew’s congregation:

This year we celebrate the 190th anniversary of a Presbyterian presence within the city of Fredericton.  June has been designated as “Anniversary Month” and we will have a special service of worship on June 7th at 11:00 AM. The Moderator of the Atlantic Synod, the Reverend Jeff Murray, has been invited to preach. A pot-luck lunch will follow.

The Session hopes you will plan to attend as together we celebrate our heritage. Consider inviting friends and family as we give thanks for the faith and dedication of those who have influenced our lives. Many attended Sunday School, Scouts, Guides, and other programs at Saint Andrew’s. Perhaps a wedding was a significant event.

“The Church is Christ together with his people.” These words from Living Faith remind us that the church is not a building but a people. The building is where the church worships. Let us continue to build a church without boundaries; a church that welcomes and includes all people; a church that proclaims the love of God as we see it in the life of Jesus the Christ.

Let us celebrate our history and heritage as together we plan and work  for tomorrow.

Sincerely and on behalf of the Session,


Douglas Blaikie
Minister, Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
512 Charlotte St., Fredericton, N. B. E3B 1M2
(506) 455-8220