Good morning everyone, my name is Lena Blackburn. Before I give my testimony, I would like to say I may have a serious face, but looks are deceiving. I am very friendly, and I also have an accent! I am retired and I keep myself busy by working part-time.
My entire family immigrated from Grenada "AKA Island of Spice" which is situated in the Windward Islands. There are three island states; Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and of course our beautiful white sandy beaches. Please note Grenada is pronounced "Grena[ay]da". (not Grana[ah]da).
We have been living in Toronto for over 42 years. I have two adult children. Some of you may have met my daughter Ashley; who is now living and working in Beijing, China teaching English.
I also, have one sister and two brothers. Some of you may have noticed my Mom and sister at church with me. I convinced my Mom and sister how great the choir sings and the hymns are just like when we were back in Grenada. Finally, they attended and were amazed! They love the choir.
When I first came to Grace Church, I could not find the entrance. Every door I pulled was locked and I approached a lady with a little girl as they were running down Lonsdale Road and I asked, "Are you familiar with this church?" She replied, "Yes!" I said, "Can you show me the entrance to the church?" and she said, "Follow me". It was 10:05 am and there was no greeter at the entrance. If I had not met this lady I was about to go back home.
I have been attending Grace Church for just over 17 months and I felt very welcomed here from the very first day I arrived! I met Don Cranston who shared the peace with me that day and at the end of the service Don said to me, "Are you new? Are you looking for a Church?" I said "Yes." Don said, "Come and meet Reverend Peter Walker." As I was introduced, Peter said to me, "Welcome to Grace Church! We would love to have you! Are you going to return?" I was so nervous but I smiled and said, "Most likely". Peter then said, "What you see is what you get. If you don't see it is because we don't have it". Peter called out to Delcina, "Please take Lena for coffee." I left with her but I was still nervous!
I visited another church but realized it was not the right fit for me. My inner voice said to me, "I sent you to Grace Church this is where you belong."
I came back to Grace Church the third Sunday after my first visit and Peter said to me, "You are back! Thanks for coming!" I smiled and said, "I am here for good!"
If my Dad was alive today he would have said to me, "Forward march to Grace Church and don't look back".
I had been a long-standing member at another Church in Toronto since we immigrated to Canada. My Dad was a Warden. In the latter part of my time there I was involved in the Outreach Program i.e. preparing meals for the Out of the Cold program on most Sundays. I enjoyed preparing and cooking meals for this program because I was giving back to the people in the community that could not afford a meal. This also meant that I was not able to attend church on these Sundays. I was also a lesson reader and did the Prayers of the People.
As the saying goes when one door closes, God always opens either a window or a door. I thank God every day for directing me to Grace Church it is a blessing for me to be here.
I contribute my baking skills to Café Grace and help with cleaning up whenever I can. I also help at some of the social events, such as brunches and I have supported the Café Grace a few times.
I speak about the love I have for Grace Church to my family and friends, what this Church has brought to me, "Happiness and Peace of Mind".
My Anglican faith has always been important to me. I was baptized and confirmed in the Anglican Church in Grenada. As a child, I went to church every Sunday twice a day. My grandparents were the post of the church. We attended service in the morning and Sunday school in the afternoon...such wonderful times.
So, what does Grace Church mean to me? For me, it's about the beautiful music from the choir, the sermon and of course the people; the clergy Peter and Irina; they are a blessing to Grace Church. It really takes me back to my childhood memories of going to church.
Thank you and blessings to all.