Staff

 
 

Cameron Watts

Rev. Dr. Cameron Watts moved to Toronto in 2015 to follow his partner, Nancy, who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and to be closer to their first grandchild.  Raised in Toronto, he has served churches in Kentville NS, and Kingston, Claremont, Scarborough and Aylmer ON.  When not doing church stuff he works on honing his skills as a barista and a writer of murder mysteries.  His favourite high-risk past-time is riding his bike to work from the Jane/St. Clair area.
 

 

Marty Smyth

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Marty Smyth is a classically trained pipe organist who is equally at home as a jazz pianist, rock bassist, choral conductor, and recording engineer. He holds the Associateship diploma in piano performance with the Royal Conservatory, the Associateship diploma with the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto.

As both recording engineer and performer (conductor, pianist, organist, bassist) Marty has appeared on CBC, CTV, MTV and other networks.  This very satisfying experience in the entertainment industry provides much needed perspective to the rest of his career in the church music world.

As a clinician for choirs and for community music programs, Marty has presented and coached music leaders in how they can adapt and grow their programs. His presentations show how classical, jazz, pop, and many other forms of musical expression are valid as worship, education and entertainment experiences, which can compliment each other to excite both communities and individuals.

Marty is Director of Music at Forest Grove United Church. He is married, has two children, lives in North Toronto, and is an avid automobile racer.

Thupten Wangyal

My name is Thupten Wangyal and I am from Tibet. In 1959 I lost my beloved Father, Country and everything due to the invasion of Tibet by the Communist Chinese Regime and became a displaced refugee child. It was unbelievable how my beloved late Mom was able to escape with her eight children ages from 3 to 14 years under the strict watch of the Communist Chinese Red Army.

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My elder sister and I were taken care of by His Holiness The Dalai lama with the kind help from the Government of India and we were sent to a refugee school in northern India from the Indian border. I left the school after finishing the 8th grade and joined Gyudmed Monastic University with the help from a friend and was looked after by a senior monk of this monastery who provided me all the basic needs.

Although my intention to join the monastery was to study Buddhism, it did not happen and I ended up working for the monastery as secretary.

I was able to do very valuable fundraising for the monastery in establishing a carpet weaving center as an income-generating project for the monastery. The sponsor of the project was a nice American Lady whose friend was a Mongolian Buddhist Monk who had previously studied in Tibet at the same monastery but now lives in the States.

Through a casual talk during her visit to the monastery in 1976, she asked me about my life and parents etc. After her return to states, I could not believe in receiving a kind letter and cheque from her and told me to visit my long lost beloved mother in memory of her mother who had passed away a year ago. I was so happy and excited to meet my beloved Mom and family members after fifteen years of separation.

The monastery authority granted me leave for a month to visit my Mom and family members. When I finally reached the refugee camp, there was a small old woman whose face was completely covered with wrinkles and dust. Everyone was in tears, as I could not recognize my beloved Mother until she gave me the warmest hug! I visited her quite often after that with help from an Australian friend.

My hard work earned me high profile jobs in the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness The Dalai lama in 1989.

My mom was very happy and proud that I earned such high profile positions in the Tibetan Administration of His Holiness The Dalai lama. Sadly, she peacefully passed away after a month from my last visit in 1992 from a brief illness at the age of 79.  Due to pressure by the Chinese Government, the Nepalese Government forced me to leave Nepal in 2001 and subsequently the Office of Tibet was permanently closed in Nepal. I became second time refugee in Canada.

I am greatly indebted to the blessings of His Holiness The Dalai lama and the People and Government of India for their timely care and rehabilitation without this I would have been not alive today enjoying such wonderful life and freedom here in Canada. With kind help from a good friend Dr. Rev. James Leopard, I started working for the Forest Grove United Church as a part time in the 1st week of July 2005. I became very close with Rev. Dr. James while working in the East Minister United Church in 2002 and as a new comer to Canada; he has always treated and supported me whenever I need of guidance in every respect.   The Forest Grove United church was built in 1959.  In 2009, when the Church was celebrating its 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary, it suddenly stuck to my mind of what an unbelievable coincidence that I lost everything in the same year and now I am working here in this wonderful Church.

My daily prayer of Mindful Training composed by a Buddhist Scholar Geshi Langri Thangpa Dorjee Singghe.  1054 - 1023

Out of envy others may.
Insult, abuse and treat me unjustly.
May I accept defeat and loss.
And offer victory to them.

 

Glady Ledesma

Glady Ledesma is your go-to Office Manager by day, and your custom cake lady and creative craftster by night. She is known as ‘mom’ to her 2.5 year old turning 8 year old daughter, ‘babe’ to her life partner-in-crime and ‘Gladycakes’ to her cake clients. When she does find time for herself she turns the volume up in the car and belts out her favourite 80s tunes, catches up with fellow fangirls online, fancies herself a writer and naps. She’s recently learned how to pvr tv shows to “watch for later” and is currently curating an extensive list of cake and cooking shows as well as movies that she may or may never get to. Glady grew up in North York and has recently moved back to the area. She loves it.