Connecting religion with a need for justice

By on January 1, 2021

I was born and raised in small-town southern Alberta, with a United Church minister for a father and a United Church minister’s daughter for a mother. Both my father and grandfather were strong “social gospel” ministers and so I grew up connecting religion with the need to work for justice. I moved away from the church during my late teens and early adulthood, only to be gradually called back through my longing for a deeper connection to the Holy and the help and support of many mentors and my Campbell River church family.

I was active on the council of Campbell River United Church and in what was then Comox Nanaimo Presbytery. I was also drawn to contemplative practices like centering prayer, lectio divina and labyrinths. I was aware of some small United Church congregations which could afford only part-time ministry and were unable to find ministers. I gradually felt called to minister with those communities.

I intended to become a designated lay minister, but with the help of my discernment committee discovered that God was leading me into ordained ministry. St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon was just beginning to offer online options, and I knew that their program and delivery model suited me. In an early phone conversation, the principal at the time, Lorne Calvert, said, “If this is the place for you, we’ll make it happen.” I completed my first year by distance learning, my second year on campus in Saskatoon, and then did a 20-month residency with Cumberland United Church that included frequent trips back to Saskatoon for intensive courses. I was ordained by BC Conference of the United Church of Canada in 2016.

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I was a professional librarian for most of my working life and came to ministry after retiring from Vancouver Island Regional Library in 2012. My ministry with Cumberland United Church included two more years after ordination. It was a privilege to walk with them as they discerned that they couldn’t continue as a congregation, as they disbanded, and as they made faithful decisions to free up resources and make space for the new church plant now known as Weird Church Cumberland. My interim posting with St. Columba Anglican-United Church in Port Hardy is my first experience working within the Anglican Church. My hope is that the church will continue to grapple with social justice issues like Indigenous reconciliation, climate justice, and racism so that the Gospel and the life and work of Jesus remain in a dynamic relationship with the world we are called to serve.

I’m semi-retired now, watching the tides from the home I share in Campbell River with my spouse, Harvey Kimball, two cats and one dog. I continue to serve in short-term appointments with several congregations and as pastoral charge supervisor with Denman Island United Church. I am also very happy to be a companion with the Emmaus community in Victoria.

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Author

  • Elaine Julian

    Elaine Julian is interim incumbent at St. Columba, Port Hardy.

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