Those of you who have read my blog from the beginning may recall that at the beginning of my sabbatical at this time last year I stated that I was open to whatever the Spirit had in store for me. That as you know unfolded in many unexpected ways, including my father-in-law having a serious injury while riding his bike in Corner Brook, many of my arrangements in the UK needing to be massaged a bit, sometimes quite a lot. I was being invited to let go of control. I knew that in my heart and the reality is that continues to be the something I'm experiencing.
Case in point, before I left on my sabbatical, the plan was for my father to move out to Alberta where I live at present and my sister had just returned to be closer to her children. By the time I returned all of that had changed and my dad was clear that he didn't want to move having spent 50 years of his adult life in Ontario. I couldn't blame him. But as the one sibling without children, and having a career where moving is very doable, the die was cast.
The upshot is that Glen and I decided that the move we had planned a few years down the road was going to come sooner rather than later. And so now begins another journey, this time as we sell out house and head east to Ontario where I've accepted a call to Richmond Hill United Church.
As we begin this adventure I'm both excited and sad. I've lived in Western Canada for nearly my entire adult life, and so I am feeling a bit like my dad. This is the part of the country I've come to know and love, half spent in Manitoba and the other half in Alberta. It's in the West that I grew as a minister (or priest for the first half of my vocation). It's in the West that I began working with Indigenous people and felt deeply connected to their culture and spirituality. It's in the West that I plucked up the courage to leave the priesthood and become a minister with the United Church of Canada. And that was possible because in the West I met Glen, fell in love, married him and set down roots. I owe so much to this part of the country.
It's also in the West that I began exploring new ways of being church, which is where my excitement comes in. My sabbatical had been all about deepening my understanding of Fresh Expressions and Emergent forms of church. It's what I've dabbled around in terms of my work in Presbytery, and that I've wanted to explore more deeply in my ministry in St. Albert. And I've begun to do that a bit since coming home. We now have a monthly coffeehouse style worship and we've launched a Forest Church for the warmer months with the hope that the colder months will be an arts based worship. But my move to the GTA will afford me a whole new opportunity. When I was looking for possible churches, the position in Richmond Hill jumped off the page. They were looking at redeveloping their property. They knew that they needed to change. They were open to exploring new ways of being church. As I interviewed their openness to something new was clear. I'd found a match.
So begins a new journey. Stay tuned for more reflections from the road.