Bits and Pieces is a random collection of news and views compiled by Dr. Frank McClelland for Toronto F.P.C.


It was on March 22 that we had to close down morning and evening services because of the Covid19 pandemic.  None of us thought that it would be six long months before we would be able to have public services again.  But this Sunday we are looking forward to both services again, along with the Communion service.  However, everyone has to wear a mask and sit in alternate pews.  A record has to be kept so that in the event of an outbreak its path can be traced.  For the meantime the prayer meetings will continue on Zoom (Wed. at 7.30).


The Toronto church was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Scott Sanderson.  Scott was 29, when he suddenly took ill and passed away. Scott was the partner of Katherine, and the loving father of little Ava. He was the son of Shirley and Jeff Sanderson, and the grandson of Norma and Jim Wilson, long time members of the Toronto church.  The funeral was held in the church yesterday and was conducted by the minister, Dr. Larry Saunders.  He spoke on the words of Jesus, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].  The only true comfort for a breaking heart is to rest in Christ who gives “grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16].  Our heartfelt sympathy and prayer goes out to the whole family at this difficult time.


The installation of the Rev. Paul Backhurst as minister of Calgary Free Presbyterian Church will take place on Friday September 18.  The service was planned for March but Covid19 put an end to that.  Unfortunately, due to the closure of the Canada/US border only the Canadian ministers will be able to attend.  The moderator, the Rev. Ian Goligher, will lead the meeting and Dr. Larry Saunders, Toronto, will serve as acting clerk of presbytery to put the necessary questions to the new minister. On that weekend, the church will also celebrate its Fortieth Anniversary with Dr. Saunders as the guest preacher.


Christians are “Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”  [1 Peter 1:23].  “The power of God is in this Word.  A dying infidel commanded that his grave should be covered with a massive slab of concrete and then said ‘If this should ever crack, then there might be a resurrection’.   His grave was thus covered, but beneath it a little seed of a tree was buried.  Nature took its course, the seed germinated, and the plant wound its way upward towards the light, cracking the concrete as it grew.  The infidel was condemned, and God’s Word was vindicated.  The powerful word of God vindicates God and silences the infidel.” [Rev. R.J. Beggs, Eagles’ Wings]



Rev. William Chalmers Burns was the man used mightily of God in Dundee, during the tenure of the young saintly Robert Murray McCheyne. McCheyne was on a preaching visit to Bible lands when God, in His sovereign mercy, was pleased to pour out a notable shower of revival blessing in his home church.

Subsequently, in August 1844, Burns sailed to Canada and, for two years, ministered along the Montreal – Hamilton corridor.  Burns returned to Scotland in 1846 after two years of incessant service, then went as a missionary to China where he served faithfully until his death in 1868.

In a book on the life of Burns it is said of him and other stalwarts who came to Canada, that they, “laboured in the cities, and occasionally in the rural districts, to the edification of multitudes of hearers, and to the effect of laying firm and deep the foundations of what was in its character as a ‘united church’ may now with perfect propriety be called the ‘Free Presbyterian Church of Canada.’ [Emphasis ours – Ed].

It is interesting to note that the name would not be registered in Canada until 130 years later, when our church became the Free Presbyterian Church of Canada.


There are seven things that God hates that ought never to be found in the life of a believer [Proverbs 6:16-19].  Three of them are sins of the tongue – “A lying tongue,”  “A false witness that speaketh lies”, and “he that soweth discord among brethren.”   A wicked heart, mischievous feet, “and hands that shed innocent blood” round out the list.   May God help us always to worship Him in the “beauty of holiness”  [Psalm 29:2].