We will make a post for each Nominee for President-Elect, with gratitude for all those who discern ‘Yes’ to this process!
The Rev. Dr. Simon LeSieur
West Vancouver United Church
It was through a United Church camp in Ontario, at the age of 20, that the trajectory of my life changed. In a singular moment, I went from wanting nothing to do with God, Christianity, or religion to being wholly gripped by the unshakeable certainty that I would be following in the way of Jesus for the rest of my life.
Since then, I have come to know about myself that most of the gifts I have been given revolve around the conviction that God is up to something good – life-changingly so. Prayer, curiosity, learning, communication, creativity, and relentlessly striving to point to the goodness woven into the fabric of this world are all part of how I live out my own discipleship. While being rooted in these convictions, I also deeply value and actively seek to learn from the insights of other perspectives and expressions of faith. Ultimately, I have found in this United Church of ours a gracious space in which to house and embody all of these influences. I have focused most of my theological education and my love of learning studying the Holy Spirit, trying (so far, in vain!) to comprehend the mechanics and mystery of what happened to me at that United Church camp all those years ago. What I have learned through the process is the importance of embodying an expression of faith that is respectful and sensitive to the changing religious climate of our society, while also holding on to the belief that we have something unique to offer in response to the malaise of these times. In terms of my leadership style, I endeavour to embody a gentle and joyful expression of the good news, and strive to live in such a way that those around me experience that good news as good. That being said, I am also honest and open about the times when I get it wrong, and am committed to learning from those moments. Preferring to do life alongside others, I am an encourager with a longing to genuinely connect with others and see them flourish. I love listening with my mind and with my heart, and, from what I hear, collaboratively synthesizing and communicating a compelling vision for the sake of others. I love what I do, every single day, and the people I do it with. I am optimistic about our future, and am convinced that much of our best ministry – God’s work in and through us – still lies ahead.
What Motivates You to Express interest in the Role of President (-Elect)?
Much has been written about how we here on the left side of the country live in one of the most challenging contexts for ministry. I was waiting recently in my dentist’s office when I was asked by someone in their 40s what I do for a living. “I’m a minister – or pastor as some call it,” I said matter-of-factly. Their response shocked me: “oh neat, what is that?”
I was surprised, because I had anticipated something of the usual coolness (with maybe a touch of the occasional disdain) that comes with bringing up matters of faith in public. What I never expected was that someone my age might not know what a minister or a pastor is. Clearly, we are well into a post-Christian society. I write all of this because it’s understandable that many of us are exhausted by ministry in what can often feel like an indifferent culture amidst perpetually shifting ground. I suspect many of us consider ourselves ill-equipped or ill-prepared to serve and lead in such a climate. And yet, quietly bowing out or surreptitiously fading out of the theological and social spheres would be a tremendous loss, because what we embody, this beautiful and unique expression of the good news, is so needed in our world. This, the nurturing of this hope that we are onto something really good and particularly needed in this world, is what motivates me to fulfill this position should I have the opportunity to do so. Indeed, I see in our gathered collective the necessary instincts and love to continue the work of ushering in a renewed, vibrant, and Spirit-filled incarnation of who God is calling us to be for the sake of this world. I see in this region faithful and hopeful people with a willingness to try new things. I see mentors who have shaped me and encouraged me into who I am today. I also see co-conspirators whose diverse ministries I admire for so many different reasons and who push me to be, in my own way, innovative and thoughtful (and maybe a little mischievous, too). The voice and heart that we have developed together since 1925, shaped by great highs and tragic lows, matters. As such, I would consider it a privilege to contribute the gifts I have been given to help serve and lead as I can towards the vibrant and faithful future that I see ahead of us.
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