You Can Come Home
One of the questions I often get asked is, where are you from? I think it is a Maritime thing because when I was a student minister at McClure United in Edmonton, Alberta people you randomly encountered didn’t really ask that question. It is an international city. One day I was at a bus stop (flew there from Mapleton with three suitcases!) and was asked where I was from. Turned out the young lady was from Windsor, NS.
The youngest of four children, and the only daughter of a Captain in the Canadian Artillery and a multi-talented career woman from New Jersey, my first three years were spent in Shiloh, Manitoba. This after being born in Parrsboro while my family vacationed with my father’s family, the Spicer’s in Spencer’s Island. In 1958 we moved to Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick. Then in 1963 my father was posted to Halifax where I lived until 1967. And then we moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida. That’s another story.
God placed a direct call on my life in 2001. As surprised as those who knew me were with this call, no one was more surprised and perplexed than I. It took me almost two years to come to the understanding I was to leave my livelihood, my family (including 3 young grandchildren,) and life as I knew it in Banner Elk, North Carolina and attend The Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax. I was called to ordained ministry in the church I was baptized and grew up in, our UCC. It would take me 12 years to receive my Masters of Divinity and to be ordained in the United Church of Canada on May 31st, 2015.
I was called to the two point Welsford Pastoral Charge in New Brunswick upon my ordination. I served six years with the two communities of Wesley United in Brown’s Flat and Patterson United in Wirral. My call there ended June 30, 2021.
I returned to my home in Mapleton, N S in July, 2021 and spent six months in discernment to understand God’s will for the placement of my gifts in ministry. I had hoped it would be three. But I know waiting on God’s revelation is worth it. I worked on restoring (as much as a poor girl can do) the 1856 former United Church I lived in and simply talked to and listened for God’s direction. No distractions like tv, internet. I didn’t study or read or write. I didn’t offer myself for supply ministry. I just talked and listened. And, of course, I worshipped in communities on Sundays. And that one activity was the answer to what I was asking God as to my highest and best use (real estate term) as a minister.
Prior to discernment I thought I was being called west or north to a mission-centred ministry, if not back to a familiar church in N B. As a dual citizen, I also explored possibly being called to the United Church of Christ in Maine. My place here in Cumberland County was to serve as a ´tent’ or a temporary dwelling, not my home. However, from my worship at numerous United Churches I discovered the challenge United Churches are having in putting out relevant worship. Writing transformational messages was something I had felt called to concentrate on in my prior ministry, especially after the pandemic began. God is always ahead of us if we will just have the patience to follow, rather than take the lead.
So, the first week in December I sat down and wrote a 26 page profile (without notes) to post on the United ChurchHub seeking a good match for my ministry gifts primarily as a worship leader. I was willing to go anywhere in Canada. I never anticipated my new spiritual home was so close. A simple, sincere email from Gary Wilke led me to explore the profile from Trinity-St. Stephen’s which I had not considered. We were an amazing match, both seeking to encounter with the divine primarily through worship. At that point I knew, even before I met with the search committee, God’s will would be done through me serving here at Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church.