Ask the Nominees: Week 7
Each week leading up to GC43, we are asking the Moderator Nominees one question to help everyone get to know them.
Q: Tell us about someone who played a significant role in the development of your faith.
Rev. Susan Beaver
Bob was like an uncle to me. All while I was growing up, he took time to talk to me, tell me about our people, and answer my questions. When my great uncle passed away I asked Bob, "Why did they change our mourning period from one year to 10 days?" He answered, slowly and clearly, "Because Creator meant for our lives to be joyful." He formed my understanding of God in that moment and with a few words, a hundred stories about the loving nature of God emerged. I've been adding to those stories ever since.
Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud
My grandmother, Kay Blaikie, for her response to the call to service expressed in her engagement with all things church, especially United Church Women (UCW). At UCW, she found a community of women with whom God’s love was expressed for one another, for the larger congregation, and for those in need. I was blessed to accompany her to meetings and work parties in the church kitchen—not only for the cookie sampling but also to witness and participate in the joy of working towards a common mission of providing care.
Rev. Dr. Richard Bott
Mrs. Malone, Sunday School Superintendent at St. John's United Church! In one, short, Sunday morning class of 10-year-old boys, she asked questions that helped us see financial stewardship as a spiritual practice. This learning went so deep. I understand that the practice continues for many of us, to this day.
Rev. David Hart
My mom and dad, hands down!! Raised as Lutherans in Germany, they met in a WWII Pentecostal Church, drawn to the lively, Spirit-filled worship and searching for God! They were Pentecostal mystics, drawn to Spirit, not to dogmatism, biblical literalism, or orthodoxy. My life continues their trajectory in a contemporary iteration … passionate about Spirit, lively worship, mystical exploration, and progressive United Church theology and social justice! My observation…? This is what today’s culture hungers for so deeply and desperately needs!
Rev. Cathy Larmond
This is a hard question! Sometimes a river is shaped by a big boulder, and sometimes by a lot of smaller ones. My United Church Women (UCW) ladies have shaped me. From those who taught me in Sunday School, to the ones who encouraged me to follow my call into ministry, to those who are supporting me now with prayer. A composite UCW lady has shaped my faith, and continues to do so today.
Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean
My dad knelt with me at a stream to show how Gideon chose leaders. Dad laughed into the night at the cottage, read fables, Madeleine L’Engle, and Jürgen Moltmann with me, taught me to swim, and that faith and faithful leadership are a relationship: God loves you, love God, visit the people. Rev. George Henderson MacLean put time into preaching and his voice into church music. He was elected President of Maritime Conference to be a healer post 1988. This Tuesday we committed his earthly remains, with those of Helen, my mother, to the ground and into God’s boundless love.
Dr. Colin Phillips
I had the honour of calling Hal Llewellyn my minister for the nine months before he and Karen retired. That this time felt like years is a testament to how profoundly he has influenced how I practice my faith. There is the fact that Hal could probably read the phonebook as a sermon and still have everyone riveted. Beyond that, he has an incredible ability to articulate God’s will for the world and then doggedly, yet gracefully, work to see it realized.
Rev. Wanda Stride
Two people taught me that religion and politics mix. Rev. Bruce Misener, in the 1980s at Rexdale United Church, preached a Christmas Eve sermon on the subversive message of Jesus being born into poverty and oppression. I had never heard that before! Pastor Miguel Tomas Castro Garcia and his church in San Salvador live and breathe a theology of liberation from poverty and violence through prayer and artistic expression. Through them, I’ve learned to interpret the world through the lens of Psalm 72.
Rev. Dr. Martha ter Kuile
Clifford Elliott, my minister when I was an undergraduate student, listened to me about faith, and school, and romantic troubles, and dreams. He shared his own truth, and the odd rueful laugh about the foibles of the church. He suggested books through the decades when we blew into town from overseas, or the farm. He married us, and baptized our kids. He was so subtle, so insightful, so kind. Joking, he called himself a fundamentalist because he believed in the fundamentals: love God, love your neighbour. Amen.
Rev. Donalee Williams
My father, the Rev. Keith Wettlaufer, instilled in me a love of church, community, and God. As a teenager I remember a sermon where he preached about not putting God in a box, which was foundational in my development of a widening and inclusive faith.