Centennials are very important anniversaries and a time when “we will rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24). For “100 Days,” the Canada Toronto Mission (CTM) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been celebrating the formation of the Mission on July 1, 1919, one hundred years ago.
Originally eight missionaries were assigned to labour in the Canadian Mission that included the entire provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The mission presently includes Ontario and has grown to include 200 young men and women and 15 senior couples. With the final session of general conference on October 6, 2019, the Canada Toronto Mission completed its “100 Days Celebration.”
“100 Ways in 100 Days”
Nine stakes, numerous wards, and one district have participated with a wide variety of activities that centered on the theme “100 Ways in 100 Days.” A nine-foot long photograph of all missionaries, including outgoing mission president Jeffrey L. Shields with his companion Patty Shields and current mission president, Clint W. Ensign and his companion Cindy T. Ensign, created enthusiasm for the Centennial events and helped members understand the actual size of the mission.
Weekly history “nuggets” (written by Carma Prete of Kingston) were printed each week in Sunday programs for the entirety of the celebration. The aim was to encourage members to perform service for others as a way to honor the mission’s formation. Some of the service activities included the following:
Wards sponsored 100 cans of food to a local food bank.
100 ordinances for individuals were completed at the Toronto Ontario Temple.
100 missionaries were recognized on the Centennial Facebook page.
Special history programs recognized the contributions of leaders and missionaries.
Many individuals rendered 100 hours of service.
Ward picnics and activities gathered people together for fellowship and enjoyment.
Special Concerts and Mission Picnic
A number of special concluding events honoring the mission were organized. The Mission sponsored two organ concerts at the Toronto Stake Center. Clay Christiansen, Tabernacle Organist Emeritus, amazed a full house in June with his renditions of “Gabriel’s Oboe,” “Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” and Christiansen’s own “Suite for Organ” among other numbers.
James Welch and his son Nicholas delighted the audience with their two and four-hand versions of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s “Rondo,” “Toccata in D Minor,” and “Lord of the Dance.” Nicholas recently completed serving as a missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission.
Prior to the concert, James Welch hosted a free organ workshop open to any interested organists. Missionaries surprised the audience by performing a flash-mob version of “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” at both concerts. The Toronto Stake Women’s Choir participated, and Donna and Peter Gothe performed a flute-violin duo. Both concerts featured VIP receptions hosting prominent interfaith guests.
Another special event was a “Mission Reunion Picnic.” The picnic was a fun afternoon in the beautiful back yard of the mission home. Highlights were Chinese missionaries getting coached on how to cook hamburgers, face painting, and of course lots of food and visiting.
The two most seasoned missionaries who made the trip to attend the picnic were Elder Merrill Thomson from Magrath, Alberta (Elder Thomson served 1968-1970) and Elder Tom Spackman, also from Magrath, Alberta, who finished his senior mission in July 2019.
Special Missionary Reunions
The Hamilton Stake led a Canada Toronto Mission Centennial Celebration page where missionaries and members are finding and reconnecting with one another. Mikail Zarif, age 94, posed a question for the FaceBook group of 1900, “I was baptized with my son, Nader Mikhail, in Ossington Chapel on December 6, 1968. I lost track of this elder–Denis Guenther. Any one knows whereabouts?”
One week later, Brother Zarif wrote, “A special THANK YOU to CTM. As a result of my post on CTM, I was able to get in touch with my long lost 50 years Missionary. I can't express my gratitude, as I had been trying to find him for the past 50 years, without success. I got contacted the same day I posted his picture. It was wonderful to talk and hear his voice after so many years. Thanks again. Mikail Zarif and Nader Mikhail.” This experience illustrates “how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:16).
Donald Crawford and Alice McCormack Crawford joined the church in 1951 and 1953. They kept the pictures of the missionaries that they knew during that time period. Daughter Cora Crawford Bunn posted 56 portraits of missionaries from those years with a few from 1955. Others have posted their own photos and found old companions. Administrator, Emelia Julian is posting 100 before and after photos and short biographies of missionaries during the 100 days.
The Love of Jesus Christ
Unity, joy, and strength of purpose resulted from celebrating the Canada Toronto Mission Centennial. Members are remembering the many who laboured in the Canada Toronto Mission, who testified of the Saviour’s love for all of his children, and who reminded us that Jesus Christ has an eternal purpose for each and every one of us.
As the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied: “And this gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. And the servants of God shall go forth saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:37-38).