My dear friends- the people of the Aylmer-Eardley Pastoral Charge,
My deep gratitude to you all for your participation in the End of Covenant service and the lovely retirement gathering on Sunday evening. It was a classy affair! Your words, your gifts, your hugs, your smiles and your tears touched my heart. I am forever grateful for my time in ministry with you.
I wish you God's blessing as you journey together toward your new future directions.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
My forty years of ministry as first a diaconal minister, then ordained, have been fulfilling, frustrating, challenging, and exhilarating. I am blessed with many amazing colleagues with whom I have planned, worshipped, co-celebrated, argued, puzzled, wept and laughed. I have baptized, married, celebrated communion, preached, sung, clowned, danced, prayed and sat silently when there have been no words to share. I have anointed the dying, buried the dead, comforted the sick and grieving, and blessed the newly born. I have led adults through Bible study, teens through confirmation class, children through scripture stories. I have gone on retreat and found God at the bottom of the depths of despair. A more rewarding and interesting career I could not imagine!
I have been an active participant in the United Church of Canada since I was a child. I recall moments as a toddler feeling as safe in the church building as anywhere in the world. I had an interior knowledge that God was with me and that I would be okay, even if I lost track of my parents momentarily. As a teen and young adult the church was a place I felt at home. There my presence mattered and I could make a positive contribution. The community that gathered Sundays and throughout the week nurtured me, supported me and challenged me.'
My initial theological training came through the “New Curriculum” of the 1960’s and 70’s. Even then I realized that my church was radically different from other churches that some of my friends attended. I was curious to know why my church was different. So I asked lots of questions. And I was proud of the United Church for taking stands on important social issues.
My participation as a commissioner to General Council in 1988 solidified my trust in the UCC to be leader in justice issues not only in Canada but around the world. What surprised me most at that GC meeting was not the fact that we did indeed vote to “ordain and commission self declared homosexual persons”, but the positive and supportive response from our ecumenical guests. A woman Religious who I had become friends with told me she was so proud and humbled by the boldness of the UCC and believed that the UCC would give courage to her church to move forward. She had unknowingly commissioned me to continue justice work as a high priority for my ministry wherever that would lead me.
As a contemplative and introvert by nature, there are some challenges to overtly speak truth to power. But that was (is!) part of my call. It was inherent in my early years at home and at church. It seeped into my bones during my foundational education at the Centre for Christian Studies. It was named again and again in the work I was called into in Presbytery, Conference and pastoral work and as part of Gender Justice work (Saskatchewan Conference and General Council). I was a GC rep to the End of the Decade for Churches in Solidarity with Women at the WCC in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998. I will never forget nor cease to be inspired by our host African women whose stories still tear at my heart.
About 20 years ago I was invited to develop a program to teach spiritual direction to church leaders through the Faculty of Theology, U of Winnipeg. Thus the Prairie Jubilee Program was born. I directed the program until I left the Prairie many years later. In this work my deep love for the contemplative and my persistent call to serve Creation were able to mesh beautifully. I am grateful to my students and colleagues who taught me so much. I am grateful to be now working with a similar program out of the Tatamagouche Centre in NS - Contemplative Pathways. One retirement project!
I have always had a desire to explore embodied spirituality. So I learned, then taught liturgical dance and embodied prayer, became a Reiki practitioner then studied 3 years of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and more to become a registered massage therapist. It is amazing how well this body work supported my ministry. The integrity of mind, body, spirit became even more important in my work and life.
A number of years ago, at a challenging time in my ministry a friend gave me a pin that was created by women in the Church of England. It says “In spite of considerable provocation I will not leave the church.” It goes with me everywhere. I have said many times over the years “I cannot NOT do this work.” It is difficult and sometimes heartbreaking work, but as people of Jesus it is the work we are called to do. It brings me deep joy to be connected with God’s people and all Creation in this web of relationship.
As for the future Time for family - my husband (retired UC minister Boyd Drake) my grandchildren, children, sister and parents - is a high priority for retirement. As is Support to a place I call home - the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer in Ft Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan.
Thanks to all of you who attended our worship and workshop last Sunday. It was a great success. And it was fun (we promised some fun didn't we?!) We are so grateful to the Rev Sharon Moon who facilitated the process for us.
You listened carefully to the work of the Strategic Planning Working Group. You took time to ask questions and add our own thoughts. You considered four scenarios which the SPWG had developed from the work you had done at the previous workshops. Weighing the pros and cons of these scenarios helped you discern your sense of direction as Aylmer United Church. At the end of the day there was a sense of accomplishment, and a satisfaction about that direction. You let God's Spirit guide you.
If you were not at the event then plan to come 10 or 15 minutes early this Sunday to find out what happened, and to see where your gifts and skills might support to work going forward. Members of the SPWG will greet you and explain the process we went through with the help of visuals.
I am excited for you as you look to the future! I am happy to have been part of this energizing process! If you keep up this good work the future of Aylmer United Church within the community looks bright. Let your light shine. Be faithful to the Spirit of Christ who calls you to listen and to respond, and who calls you to compassion and action. May it be so!
Spirit has been blowing through the planning meetings of the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) these past few weeks as we prepare for our congregational worship and workshop this Sunday! There have been many meetings - often two a week with sub-groups meeting together as well as numerous emails and phone calls. The bulk of the work has been taking what we all have done together in our congregational workshops throughout the year and preparing recommendations and scenarios going forward as the the people of Aylmer United Church. I am so grateful to the faithful members of this group who will offer leadership this Sunday - Anne Little, Darlene Turiff, Deborah Buck, Ewan Vost, Leslie Jamieson and Richard Van Ravenswaay,
Things are happening! Energy is moving! You will definitely want to be part of the gathering on Sunday as we hear and see the work we have already done. You will be asked once again this Sunday to participate in the vision and the direction for the congregation, and to discern the next steps.
Once again Sharon Moon will facilitate our discussions.
There will be lots of food (come at 10:15 for coffee and muffins). We will share lunch together (please bring a salad or desert to share). We will meet in the downstairs hall for both worship and the workshop. We will be finished up by 2:00.
Come and be ready to feel the Spirit of God blow within and amongst us!