St. John's Presbyterian Church Toronto

Welcome to


The Tree of Life -
A Reflection of St. John's
By Laurie McGugan, St. John's Member

This painting was commissioned by St. John’s Presbyterian Church to honour the life of Mary Pratley.  Her initials appear in the painting in the lower right and are illuminated with images of her family and life.

I intended the painting to be a reflection of the life of the people that come to be here together.  As part of my research, I asked the members of the congregation what they might choose to represent themselves; things that are important to them, what they do for a living, etc.  I received a wide range of ideas and thoughts. 

The tree has several references to the Celtic Knot appropriate to the Scottish heritage of the Presbyterian Church.  One appears in the centre at the bottom but also the roots themselves create a Celtic knot that moves up the trunk and transforms itself into the crown of the tree. It is in this framework of Celtic knots that I placed the images of St.John’s history including some values and some of the activities of the congregation that creates a communal and spiritual foundation.

As for the crown of the tree, it includes 20 flags representing the country of origin of those in the congregation today. The gold bands that weave their way down through the tree are my way of representing music in this painting.  Many of the images in the painting can be interpreted in several ways, while others are literal. Together they provide a reflection on the lives of this community of people.

As soon as you walk through the front door of our church, you will see "The Tree of Life".