Celebration of Ministries
Julia YunJung Kim
My ministry journey has always been enlivened by my passion and commitment to cultivate God’s hospitality and inclusive community of life together with diverse people across difference and barriers.
I graduated from Hanshin University in Osan, South Korea, and completed my M.Div at Hanshin Graduate School of Theology, Seoul. After migrating to Toronto, I had the privilege of completing my Master of Theological Studies at Emmanuel College with the theme of Eco-feminist theology. Recently, I successfully completed the Doctor of Theology at Emmanuel College in the area of postcolonial feminist theology and radical hospitality in Canadian migrant contexts.
In South Korea, I served several local congregations as lay leader or student minister in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), and worked as staff in the Ecumenical Relations Department of the PROK General Assembly office. While doing this, I grew spiritually and my faith was deepened through transformative experiences of worship life, friendship, and solidarity-making with marginalized people for justice and peace in the patriarchal and unjust Korean society, all of which led me to discern my call to the ordained ministry.
In Canada, as a Korean immigrant woman navigating to discover my true home, my longing for the full sense of belonging, justice, and respect for one another has fueled my response to God’s calling. Being grateful for God’s unconditional love and welcome to all people, I hope to continually serve to help create God’s hospitable, inclusive, and interdependent community where people may share their different life-stories of laughter and tears, and find deep joy of growing together.
I’m very excited with my ministry adventure, filled with many stories of challenges, empowerment, hope and faith in God.
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Born in Madrid, Spain, I worked as a TV Producer and Director before moving to Canada with my partner Raquel in the year 2000. As part of my faith journey, I was installed and served as a Deacon at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC Toronto) in 2011 and subsequently ordained as clergy in that denomination. Applying my creativity and commitment to faith and justice, I am also the founder of ICM España (MCC Spain) and have many years of experience working with 2SLGBTQ+ community organizations.
As a gifted speaker and community builder, I have been invited to share my expertise and insight in conferences and panels on 2SLGBTQ+ spirituality around the world. I am a recipient of the MCC Toronto Vision Alive Award and the Homoprotestante Award for my work in social justice with ICM España. To all of this work I feel I bring a deep understanding of multiculturalism lived out in community and grounded in justice.
I am also a Creating a Life that Matters (CLM) Certified Trainer and a graduate from the Darlene Garner Instituto de Formación del Liderazgo. I obtained my Master of Divinity from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto where I am now currently studying my Master in Pastoral Studies. I am in the process of obtaining my certification in the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC/ACSS) as a Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner.
As Minister of Community Development at Birchcliff Bluffs United Church, I offer community development through programming leadership and spiritual care supports. I am also a chaplain at Sunnybrook Hospital and Rainbow Faith and Freedom, organization founded by Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes
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Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I currently live in Toronto with my dog Murphy. Before moving to Toronto, I was an active member of St. John’s United in Halifax, Maritime Conference youth forum, Camp Kidston, and other regional opportunities. I look back on those experiences as what formed my foundation of faith and relationship with God. I studied International Development Studies and Spanish at Dalhousie University and spent a year on exchange in Campeche, Mexico and Havana, Cuba. Going into Diaconal studies originally, I thought I was being called to a path of overseas personnel work. Although this calling is still within me, I have found deep passion and vocation with children and youth ministry.
I started working with The GO Project after my first year of university in 2010 as a summer student and have worked with GO in different roles ever since. I am now the Minister to The GO Project and have been for five years. I find curiosity, wisdom, joy and so much hope for the church in working with young people. My mission each day is to provide a safe and brave space for children, youth and young adults to discover their relationship with the Holy and with themselves; to know that they are loved by God, by peers, by their leaders, and by themselves.
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I have been active in ministry for over 30 years, having first been ordained, along with my wife Lori, by the Salvation Army in 1988. This ministry has taken us across Canada. For the past 22 years we have lived and worked here in Toronto. Our children, their partners and our grandchildren are all living in the GTA.
Currently I am the Community Minister for the United Church in Regent Park, a downtown Toronto community that is being rebuilt from the ground up. I am a member of St. Andrew’s United Church in downtown Toronto and am graduating from Emmanuel College on May 20, 2021 with an MPS: Social Service – Christian Studies and a Testamur. I served as the Coordinator of Community Engagement at St. Andrew’s and have been active in congregational life there for a decade.
I have enjoyed my pilgrimage into the United Church and am grateful for the welcome I have received. I look forward to continuing my lifelong passion in ministry and community involvement as an Ordered Minister of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care in The United Church of Canada.
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I grew up in rural Oro-Medonte, raised by both my parents and the congregation of Eady United Church. I have been connected to the United Church of Canada since my birth, and formed by the experience of belonging to a small community of faith where each member is invested in the others’ well being. My Eady spiritual family nurtured my interests in Mission and Service and community engagement. They were also my first audience as I explored music and songwriting, lovingly sitting through many wrong notes and debilitating bouts of stage fright.
Since moving to Toronto at the age of 18, I have called the GTA home. I spent many years writing and performing music across Canada. After a few albums and a couple of children, I felt called to work with people in personal and transformational ways, enrolling in a training program with hopes of becoming a Registered Psychotherapist.
In 2016, a posting for a new, emergent form of community ministry showed up on the Toronto Conference website. A house was being purchased in a new subdivision and was to serve as homebase for the ministry. The vision was exciting and inspiring. However, I was not a minister. Despite feeling a nudge from the Spirit, I did not apply.
When, months later, the posting came up again, the nudge turned into a poke and I decided the worst that could happen was being told “no.” However, the answer turned out to be “yes!” and my family and I moved to The Burrow where I served as Community Minster of the Living Presence Ministry for more than three years. I am deeply grateful to the neighbours who became attached to Living Presence, and the deep learning I received around advocacy, accompaniment, pastoral care, community engagement and what it means to offer radical hospitality.
During my time with Living Presence, the Spirit moved from poking to kicking and I entered into discernment through my home congregation of Rosedale United Church. My call to a diaconal ministry was affirmed and I have recently graduated from the Centre for Christian Studies.
In May of 2020, I transitioned to my current role as Minister of Social & Ecological Justice with Shining Waters Regional Council.
One hope I hold for The United Church of Canada is that we grow into understanding what unique perspective our communities of faith have to offer the world — and then figure out how to articulate it. We’ve become so concerned with getting people into our churches that we’ve forgotten the Church is not only for us, but for the world. Nobody is called to follow the Church. Not the United Church. Not any church. We are only invited to follow Jesus, and live out what Jesus calls us to do, and how to be, with one another. I truly believe that the more our faith communities reflect this, and embrace the Christ story as a central narrative in all we do (especially our justice work), the more we will resonate with those who are longing for spiritual community — we all need something to love and live for that is greater than ourselves.
I am grateful for the love and support of my husband, Rev. Jason Meyers; my children, Simon and Isaiah; and all the friends, family, teachers and mentors who have been a part of my formation and spiritual journey. Thank you.
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Ministry Personnel Retirees for 2021
We celebrate the journey of those ministry personnel who have decided to retire in 2021. Please join us in giving thanks for their ministry:
Wayne (Tony) Rennett
Martha ter Kuile
Reflections on Retirement
Here are the statements from our retirees about themselves and their journey in ministry.
The Reverend Diane Bennett-Jones
My involvement with the United Church began about 25 years ago and I quickly became very connected to church activities. I became a member of Grace United Church in Brampton in 1999 and entered into the discernment process a few years later.
After discernment I attended Emmanuel College completing my field education at North York General Hospital as a Chaplain, and my internship with the congregation of Wexford Heights United Church.
In May 2009, I received my Master of Divinity, was ordained by Toronto Conference, and settled with the Sandford/Zephyr Pastoral Charge.
In 2016, I returned to Wexford Heights United Church as their permanent Minister and remained with them until the congregation disbanded in June 2019.
In Sept 2019 I accepted a supply position with Lansing United Church, became their permanent Minister in April 2020, and walked with them through the first year of the pandemic, until I decided to retire in March 2021.
Over the years I have also served on various Presbytery, Conference, and Regional committees including as a member of the Toronto Southeast Presbytery Pastoral Relations and Ministry Support Committee, the Toronto Conference Interview Committee and Annual Stewardship and M&S Consultation, and, most recently, as a Shining Waters Regional Liaison, and a member of the Health, Joy and Excellence in Ministry consulting group.
Throughout my ministry, I have been blessed to have met and worked with many devoted and dedicated people. I am honoured to have served with faith-filled congregations who welcomed me, embraced my gifts for ministry, and were enthusiastic about my puppet friends who joined us for worship and helped share the Good News each week.
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The Reverend Timothy Dayfoot
I am very happy, and deeply grateful, to be celebrating my retirement with you this year after a rich and rewarding career in two different types of ministry – 23 years in long-term pastoral ministry and 12 ½ years in short-term supply and intentional interim ministry. My long-term positions started in 1985 in London Conference’s Lambton Presbytery, then Middlesex Presbytery, and ended when I left my third pastoral charge in Toronto Conference’s York Presbytery in 2008. Moving to supply ministry in Aurora United Church was the beginning of my transition into intentional interim ministry with six different pastoral charges in Oshawa Presbytery, Living Waters Presbytery, and East Central Ontario Regional Council. And now I have too many amazing and wonderful stories to tell in a brief reflection such as this.
However, the story I would most like to tell at this time is also much too long. It is the story of my diagnosis in 1993 of bipolar disorder. Living and working in ministry with a mental health disorder has been, to put it mildly, a significant spiritual and practical challenge for me and for my ever-supportive spouse, Leta. The stories of ministers who live and work with mental health illnesses are not often heard. And since the stories are so rare, the ones we do hear can be misconstrued and misunderstood. During my ministry I chose to keep my own mental health story mostly under wraps. But now that I am retired I want to join the conversations about mental wellness that are becoming more common in the church and in society.
The full story of my experience with mental illness would end with me saying that the world and the church are changing. We are more ready to explore what authenticity and healthy boundaries are for all of us. In 2019 I joined the General Council’s Working Group on Mental Health and the report that came out of this group goes to the next meeting of General Council. The report seeks to help in the church’s effort to provide more support for mental wellness in new and exciting ways. The National United Church’s newly formed Mental Health Network is another way our church will keep this conversation going.
I cannot tell you what I always thought retirement would mean to me. But now that it has started I am discovering that it continues to be a time when God infuses us with the courage and the desire to ask the questions that can lead us to new and abundant life. Thanks be to God.
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The Reverend Michael Kooiman
It has been my great privilege to serve five pastoral charges in 31 years of ministry. And while I have long considered the role of teacher to be at the heart of ministry, I have spent more years as a student.
From Bathurst Pastoral Charge (Perth), I learned that determination and goodwill are at the heart of the rural church experience. From St. Matthew’s (Toronto), I learned that congregations that reflect the diversity of the community will survive and thrive against the odds. From Cliffcrest (Scarborough), I learned that creativity and faithfulness begin and end with dedicated elders. From Birchcliff Bluffs (Scarborough), I learned that a successful amalgamation can bring renewal to a congregation and the neighbourhood that surrounds it. And from Central (Weston), I learned that the ability to see Christ in others will manifest itself in mission and ministry well beyond the walls of the church.
In all ways, I have gained more than I have given. I have been surrounded by love and mercy: from my family, from the people I have served, and from many trusted colleagues. Thank you.
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The Reverend Randy Naylor
Ordained by Alberta Conference on Pentecost Sunday 1971, Pentecost Sunday this year marks my 50th year of ministry. I am the luckiest minister in the United Church.
Settled in two Alberta pastoral charges in two presbyteries, Loreen and I started our family while living in the suburban setting and added our second while in the rural community. After five years, and as we each had prior work experience in Africa, we were appointed missionaries. We worked under the leadership of the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone for three years in new church development, primary school management and school infrastructure development.
Our return to Alberta led to Conference staff for Communication, Evangelism and Stewardship plus support to Peace River Presbytery executive, ministers, and congregations. Eventually I was called to the General Council Offices to become General Secretary: Communication. Upon the death of Howie Mills I served as the Acting General Secretary of the Church for a year.
My time in Toronto saw me appointed as Associate General Secretary (Communication) of the NCCUSA in New York. After five years, I was appointed General Secretary of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) in London, UK. WACC’s 15 staff support its members in 128 countries in communication development specializing in communication rights plus gender and communication. To reduce expenses the WACC Board sought a new home base. WACC has leased space from Hope United Church, Toronto since 2006. After serving WACC for nine years I resigned and looked for employment. My work has seen me travel to 72 countries!
How fortunate I was to be called to serve the Parkwoods community of faith in Toronto. It is an inner suburban community with the challenges that come with a rapidly changing urban dynamic. The congregation took in this church bureaucrat of 30+ years and welcomed me as their pastor. What a richly rewarding and renewing experience the last 10 years and 9 months at Parkwoods have been. I am right back where I started–in congregational ministry!
None of this wonderful journey would have been possible except for the support of my amazing late wife, Loreen, the people of congregations and organizations who entrusted me with so much, and the grace of God, without which ministry is never complete.
Yes, I am the luckiest minister in the United Church. There is a Cree word oskâpêwis which means servant or helper of the people. My prayer is that in some way, especially on my good days, that I have lived up to that high calling as I have followed our Servant Christ.
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The Reverend Wayne (Tony) Rennett
Upon my retirement, I thank the people I have served in the following congregations and chaplaincies from 2003-2021. They have been most kind to me. Thanks to the saints at Lefroy United Church, Avening United Church, New Lowell United Church, St. John’s United Church in Creemore. And those at First United Methodist Church (in Chiefland, Florida) and Wesmount Congregation in Orillia. Thanks to the people I have formally served as Chaplain. These include the police and civilian members of the Barrie Police Service and the inmates at Beaver Creek Correctional Facility in Gravenhurst.
And finally, to my fellow veterans whom I came to know through my chaplaincy at Branch 34 Legion in Orillia. We always knew our lives were given to service, sacrifice, and duty. To all the people that the Holy Spirit brought into my life to reveal the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus I say thanks. You have given me much wisdom on faith and life together. Good bye which originally meant- “God be with you.” Amen.
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The Reverend John Suk
I was raised in the Christian Reformed Church, and went to its parochial schools, Calvin University, and Calvin Seminary. Along the way I met my partner, Irene Oudyk. We’ve been happily married for more than 40 years.
As a Christian Reformed Minister, I served churches in Sarnia and Cobourg, Ontario; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. For ten years I served as editor-in-chief of that denomination’s weekly magazine, The Banner. During that time, I received a PhD in Communication Theory from Wayne State University in Detroit. I subsequently was a professor at Asian Theological Seminary in Manila. Finally, I was president of the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS), a graduate school of philosophy affiliated with the Toronto School of Theology. During this time I wrote Not Sure: A Pastor’s Journey from Faith to Doubt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011).
While at the ICS, I met Peter Wyatt, then principal at Immanuel College. After listening to me discuss my book project, and my doubts about Evangelical orthodoxy, he invited me to consider joining the United Church. I did so! For the past nine years I’ve been the minister at Lawrence Park Community Church, a gracious community that allowed me, I think, to finish well. I shall always remember the United Church as the place that embraced both me and my doubts, while nevertheless allowing me to continue sharing the good news that Jesus can be our inspiration and model for living today.
We will retire to Bath, Ontario, to be close to children and grandchildren—as well as our sail boat!
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The Reverend Martha ter Kuile
I came to ministry in mid-life, after many years working in international development, often living overseas. The change was profound for my family and for me, like moving to a strange country, with different weather and a new language. Field education and internship sites became adventures in rural, inner city and suburban landscapes.
My settlement charge at Zion United Church in Apple Hill Ontario gave me a glimpse of life in a close-knit community of faith and family, in which the Christmas pageant was custom written every year for the particular age and stage of each of the participants. Six kids joined me for supper on Sunday nights and we made it a youth choir. After a yearlong study break, I began at Bells Corners United Church, in the Ottawa Presbytery. This suburban congregation, well organized and unpretentious and with a very great capacity for having fun, inspired and nurtured me through the years of my husband’s final illness. After he died, I accepted a call to team ministry at Bloor Street United Church. A little intimidated at first by an array of illustrious predecessors, and amazed by the changes I found in Toronto after 30 years away, Bloor Street has proved to be a spiritual homecoming.
Over almost three decades, I have had the privilege of being invited into various conversations and roles at the regional and national church, and also the time to pursue graduate theological study.
What gratitude I feel for the work and learning of ministry, and for the pleasures of it! All the way along I have found that it is not so much about the destination, or about the journey, but about the company – and for such good company through the years, I give God thanks.
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