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Change is in the Air!

The seasons are starting to change. Everyone is back home from summer vacation. Students are heading back to school.  Harvests are coming in from fields and orchards. As the leaves turn and the crispness of Fall sneaks back into the air, we begin to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for change.

We listened to, discerned with, and celebrated with one another at our recent All Canada Convention, and recognized that God is calling the church to great transformation that will keep pace with the changing needs of our society and those we have been called to serve. No longer are big budgets, bigger buildings, and more programs the answer to the question “how shall we live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” No longer is the expectation that everyone knows the old stories and understands what the community of faith has to offer. Like the changing leaves, some of the tools we have depended on, have served their purpose and need to be allowed to fall away so that the new buds that come with the Spring can swell and burst open with new life and possibility.

We have been given an opportunity to take stock of where we are, who we are, and what the Holy Spirit is calling us to for this day and age.  We may need to  let go (and many of us have) of buildings, programs, traditional ways of doing things, in order to be flexible and responsive to the needs of a new generation. In the months to come, even your Region will be continuing on this kind of work. We hope that our Areas and congregations will as well, asking the hard questions like “What do we really need for ministry?” “What resources do we already have?” “What can we let go of so we can serve more effectively?” “Can we embrace the concept we have enough?”

It is important to do this work when we are fresh from a great Convention and a good summer keep the momentum going, to “clean house,” and prepare ourselves for what comes next. What I hope “comes next” is a winter of intentional reflection on who we are as beloved community and children of God. I pray that in our congregations we will listen deeply, not only to each other, but to the voice of God who speaks to us through neighbours, children & friends, through those who hold a different opinion, and in times of silence.

Change is in the air! God has sent not a sweet summer breeze, but a gale force wind through the Canadian church to fill our sails and move us into a bright new future of ministry, service, and mission. How will you prepare? Peace, Jen
Sept/Oct Prayer Partners

Sep 11–Summerville Christian Church, Summerville, NS. Pastor Russell Prime
Sep 8–Westlock Community Church, Westlock, AB
Sep 25- Eglise Evangelique Mahanaim, QB. Pastor Jean Daniel Francois
Oct 2 Thanksgiving Special Offering (see page 3)
Oct 9 Hillcrest CC, Toronto, ON. Pastoral Team: Fred Dizon, Ann Stainton, Robert Steffer
Oct 16 West Gore Disciples Church, NS. Pastor: Gus MacDonald
Oct 23 Sugarbush CC, Guelph, ON. Pastor: Jen Garbin (& currently in search)
Oct 30 Familia Feliz, PQ. Pastor Julia Rodriguez

Contact information for
Rev Dr Jen Garbin:  Phone: 519-826-5767
Text: 519 751-4629

PDF Version available here

Meet Your New Regional Board

At the 2016 All Canada Convention a new Regional Board was voted in. Thank you to everyone who has faithfully served over the past biennium and to the Nominating Committee chaired by Janet Fountain for taking on the daunting task of finding folks to serve in these important roles.  Your new board is made of up of some awesome people from across the three Areas of the Canadian Region – 2 from the West, 5 from Ontario, 3 from the East, plus the three Area Ministers, and the Regional Minister. The extra representative from the East is to compensate for the Secretary coming from the East this biennium.

Please keep the Board in your prayers as we navigate this new and changing world in which we live.  There are a lot of big issues to tackle and an opportunity to refocus our work away from management and maintenance, towards transformation and growth.

Western Reps:

Ed Stover, McKernan
I have been married to my wife Duwan for almost 40 years!  I have 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son), and 5 grandchildren (3 granddaughters and 2 grandsons, ranging in age from 1 year to 15 years).  I am the pastor at McKernan Christian Church in Edmonton AB.  I have been a DoC for 15 years.  I have been on the WCF Area Board as President, as well as Vice-Moderator and Moderator on the Regional Board.  I am currently the Chair of the Committee on Ministry.  I am very interested in what God has in store for us as a Region; I originally became involved in Area and Regional work because of my interest in what makes the broader church work, and I have been blessed by working with amazing people all along the way! 

Joel Escalante, BDUC
I became a Disciple in 2007 when I joined Broadway Disciples United Church.  An active member, an elder and one of the leaders of our local church here in Winnipeg.  With the retirement of Pastor Ray Cuthbert, I thought that our congregation (which comprised mostly of Filipino decent) should not lose representation in the Regional level so I decided to be on the board.

Central Reps:

Kaeli Sweigard, Sugarbush (Vice Moderator)
Kaeli is currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California as part of the National Benevolent Association's XPLOR program. She is interning with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy as well as the Northern California-Nevada Region of the Disciples. She is a member of Sugarbush Christian Church in Guelph, Ontario since 2012. Her home church in the States for the next ten months is Lafayette Christian Church in Lafayette, California.

Janet Anstead, Mapleton (Past Moderator)
Janet is an engaging spiritual leader for Mapleton Church of Christ (Disciples), in Ontario.  She is active in the church and in the community at large.  Her diverse talents range from typical ministerial duties to directing many Disciples Conference Grounds camping experiences, participating in the Women's Church Council, and lecturing at the University of Western Ontario.  Janet loves to golf, garden and spend time with her brand-new grand daughter.

Hubert Reece, Hillcrest
Hubert is a long time member of Hillcrest Christian Church in Toronto, Ontario. He has served in a variety of roles in the congregation including Chair of the Administrative Board and Chair of the Elders.

Juliana Rodriguez, Happy Family (Laval, PQ)
Juliana is one of the co-pastors of Happy Family Christian Church in Laval, PQ. She and Juan Carlos moved from Calgary a few years ago to begin a new work in Quebec.
(Please note: we are currently searching for a Treasurer who would make up the final rep for Ontario)

Maritimes Reps:

Debbie Weatherhead, West Gore (Moderator)\
I have been a member of the West Gore Disciple Church since 1989. Prior to that I was a member of the United Church of Canada. My husband, Brian, and I both grew up in Nova Scotia and during our 43 years of marriage have also lived in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. We have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren. My vision for the Region is to foster strong ecumenical relationships that enable us to build bridges between faiths and cultures, recognizing the one God who created and loves us all.
Debbie Thibeault, Wyndholme (Secretary)
Debbie is originally from Summerville, NS but has been a member at Wyndholme for many years. She brings great skills and experience in anti-oppression / multi-cultural work (among other things), camping, and a love of the church.
Peter Fountain, Milton
Peter is a long-time member of Milton Christian Church in Milton, NS. He has served as the Treasurer of this congregation for many years and has been an Elder among many other acts of service.

Area Presidents:

Rachel Frey, McKernan (West)
I am a Disciples pastor living in Edmonton and serving as a chaplain in a long-term care facility. I am originally from the States and moved to Canada eight years ago with my life-partner, Craig. We became Canadian citizens on August 29, 2016!! I am also Mom to a fabulous, magical child named Leo, who started in kindergarten this year. I currently serve as the Western Christian Fellowship president, and I am very excited to see what the Holy Spirit is going to do among Disciples here in Canada.

Lorrie Little, The Gathering Place (Central)
I attend the Gathering Place – Ridgetown Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and have been attending the DoC for 8 and 1/2 years. I am on the board because of my position with the OACC. I have enjoyed being in the DoC and helping with the Disciples Conference Campgrounds along with Janet Anstead. A dream for the region would be the great Commission that Christ left for us – to go and make Disciples – to follow in the Steps of Jesus – who is our mediator and Saviour!
Diane Poole, Wyndholme (Maritimes)
I have been a member of Wyndholme Christian Church for over 50 years. I believe in being involved in my church's future so I have been part of many committees such as, worship, trustees, outreach, ladies CWF, and secretary of our Wyndholme board in the past. As trustee over the last few years, my most difficult task was being involved in selling our church building, parsonage, and land, but we were made stronger as we searched and found a new space to call Wyndholme Christian Church. I am currently president of our Maritime Area Board with the hope of helping to move us into the future in new and challenging ways.
In addition, Russell Prime, our National Youth & Young Adult Coordinator and our Regional Administrator, Ben Kidd, attend meetings and join in the discussion.

The Thanksgiving Offering supports the work of the College of Christian Churches in Canada. The College provides funding for persons pursuing theological education in preparation for ministry. In addition, they provide much needed funding for continuing education for our nation’s pastors, host a pastor’s retreat at the All Canada Convention, and fund the College Lecturer. Support theological education in Canada with a gift this Thanksgiving.

Honouring Faithful Servants:
George H. Stewart Award Recipients


The George H. Stewart Award is given in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada. The Board of Directors for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada created the George H. Stewart Award in 1998, in order to recognize living individuals who have given years of outstanding service & dedication to the Christian Church in Canada. It is given for years of service (a decade or more) beyond the local congregation at the national or international level.


Diane Rutherford

Dianne Rutherford has been involved with the Christian Church Christ Disciples for over 35 years.  “Lady Di” as she is affectionately known in the Ontario area and beyond has been a dedicated, loyal and faithful Disciple of Christ for all of her life.  In her younger years, both before and after marriage, she served God and the church in the roles of deacon, elder, and Sunday school teacher. In 1970, Diane married Tom Rutherford and they began a life of ministry together, where Diane served not only in “official roles” within the church, but she also balanced being mom to a “PK” (Pastor’s kid) and a pastor’s spouse.

Diane’s interest and work with the wider church began in 1976 when she got involved with Educare and took on a leadership position in the denomination, being trained as a leader in the system and then led numerous workshops here in Canada for local congregations.  In 1980, she and Tom moved to Indiana where she served as Moderator of the Area for a few years. Upon the family’s return to Canada in 1984, Tom took a pastorate in Ridgetown, Ontario, and for 14 years, Diane worked in the congregation as a Sunday School teacher, deacon and elder.

She has been very active in her present family church (St. Thomas Christian Church), serving as choir and music director, coordinating fund raising, serving on the worship committee, and a host of other roles, always willing to help in any manner that she can. 

Diane is well versed in the history of the Disciples movement and has been an active part in the All Canada and Ontario Boards. From 1980 onwards, Diane became involved with the Region of Canada, serving as its Secretary for twenty years. She also filled in as Vice Moderator for a short term, serving with dedication and faithfulness.  Diane also served as Secretary to the Board of the College of Christian Churches for a few years. She was the delegate to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada for eight years and during that time was part of the Nominating Committee, and the Search Committee that called Rev Dr. Dick Hamm to the position of General Minister and President.

Diane’s involvement with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada has not been limited to administrative tasks.  She has acted as the Central Area President, taken an active interest and role in Christian Women’s Fellowship, and been Camp Cook at the Disciples Conference Grounds in Ontario. 

On behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, we extend our deepest gratitude for your many years of faithful service, and congratulate you on this achievement! Well done, good and faithful servant!


Jean MacArthur

Jean MacArthur’s faithful service to God and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), both in Canada and internationally, has spanned more than 50 years. She began her local service in 1940. Jean served lengthy terms in a variety of capacities including: 18 years as Secretary of CWF; 20 years as Church secretary (all committees and boards, as well as office duties); 37 years as Financial Secretary; 7 years as General Board Chair, and 7 years as a Deaconess. She also served as Treasurer, youth leader, Stewardship & Finance Chair, and Children's Group leader. Positions she holds to the present include: Elder (since 1993), Historian, and Church Clerk, (since 2001). Jean also finds time to help with countless bazaars, bake sales, dinners, teas and luncheons!

Jean’s service was not confined to the local church but included considerable work and responsibilities in the Central Area where she served as the OCWF Secretary (1974-76) and held a variety of positions on the OCWF Executive.  In addition, she has served as both an Ontario Board representative and a Western Ontario Area representative and with the Ontario Church Archives. Jean has also been active in the Disciples Conference Grounds in Ontario serving as a Camp Counselor (1961-70), Camp Cook (1972-78), and a member of the Property Committee. In addition, over the years, Jean has assisted on convention planning committees, Eagle Church Committee, knitted bandages for lepers in India, and has been an All-Canada Committee member.

Jean has served the Canadian Region with energy and enthusiasm in a variety of roles on the Regional Board, College of Christian Churches, and CWF. Internationally, Jean has been heavily involved with Christian Women’s fellowship, sitting on the International CWF Committee (1975-82), the Quadrennial Committee member (1978-82), and on the Lay Advisory Committee (preparing study materials) (1977-82). In addition, Jean has been an active ecumenical advocate, participant, and organizer. She has worked with community groups to organize Meals on Wheels in St Thomas, supported Red Cross sewing hospital gowns, making bandages and knitting for Save the Children, and the Cancer Society Mastectomy Committee, making prosthesis and modifying bras. Jean has also represented our church on Women's Interchurch Council (World Day of Prayer).

Reading through Jean’s long and dedicated legacy of service, one might think that serving the church was Jean’s full time job! But in addition to all of her work within the church, Jean, with the help of husband John, maintained a home and raised two children, and worked in a variety of careers ranging from stenographer, high school secretary, Board of Education secretary, business college teacher, and store clerk.

On behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, we extend our deepest gratitude for your many years of faithful service, and congratulate you on this achievement! Well done, good and faithful servant.


Elaine Lyons

Elaine Lyons is a born and bred Disciple who along with her five siblings and large extended family, attended church every Sunday, “unless you were ill”.  She attended Torrington Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kingston, Jamaica one of a number of Disciple churches in the area. Elaine had prime examples of the dedication called for in leadership roles. Her mother, although fragile, had at one time been the chairperson of the Evangelism Committee, and aunts and siblings were in positions of responsibility.  Elaine grew up with a strong sense that young people were an integral part of the life of the congregation. Elaine loved singing, and was always in a choir.

Since her arrival in Canada, Elaine has faithfully served the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada in its local, Area, Regional, and General expressions. At the local level, she has held a number of positions at Hillcrest Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), her current congregation in Toronto, including: Member of the Board of Elders (Chairperson a number of times); Member of the Administrative Board; Superintendent – Sunday School; Chairperson – Christian Education; andmember of Stewardship Committee. She has participated in many outreach initiatives such as:planning and participating in special worship services; supporting local missions, ‘The Stop’ and ‘Nellie’s Home for Battered Women’; and organizing events to raise money and supplies for disasters. Under the auspices of St. Michael & All Angels Anglican Church, Elaine worked with the ‘Out of the Cold’ Programme. She has also served in ecumenical capacities as the Hillcrest representative to the Women’s Inter-Church Council – Toronto, where she served as Recording Secretary and was past convener of the Word Day of Prayer for her area.

Elaine’s contributions to the Central Area have been extensive. She has served as Central Area Board representative, member of the Campgrounds Committee, and has submitted numerous articles to the Ontario newsletter. Elaine’s dedication has also been evident at both the Regional and General levels of our Church. From 1996 to 2000, Elaine served as a member of the Canadian Regional Board and Chairperson of the Staff Relations Committee. During that same time, she served as a member of the General Board and worked on both the Committee for the Historical Society and the Administrative Committee. Elaine has always taken a strong interest in the work of the Christian Women’s Fellowship (now Disciples Women) and has lent her energy, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness to this vital ministry of the Christian Church, serving as Canadian Secretary, Study Chairperson (regional level and local), and (1992-96) as President of Hillcrest’s CWF. Beginning in 1972, Elaine helped to re-organize a defunct Young Adult Group, which helped assimilate an influx of immigrants from the West Indies and the Philippines who, together with Canadian counterparts, have formed the mosaic that Hillcrest has become noted for.

On behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, we extend our deep gratitude for your many years of faithful service, and congratulate you on this achievement! Well done, good and faithful servant!


Seeking Justice and Peace

I recently attended the Canadian Relations committee for the World Council of Churches here in Toronto. I was surprised to learn that as a national church, Canadian Disciples have a seat on the WCC and are one of only seven denominations in Canada who hold membership.  Folks were excited to see us back! There are so many opportunities for us to join in the work of ecumenism with our brothers and sisters here in Canada and around the world. One such initiative is the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace ( ), the description of which follows. This is a great opportunity for your local congregation to reflect on issues of justice and peace right in the comfort of your own community, while connecting with Christians from around the world.


Word of this initiative is timely; especially in light of the violence we see rocking our world overseas and here in North America. In addition, to this initiative, I invite you to read and pray about a letter written by the College of Regional Ministers, GMP Sharon Watkins, and signed on as well by the Regional Moderators. The call is clear, "To follow Jesus in North America today is to both advocate for anti-racist public policy and actively seek to build community across the dividing lines of race and class in our communities. Our call as people of faith is to pave the way for public justice by becoming the kind of community we pray and work for in society." (excerpt from letter ). Let us set out on this sacred walk together, seeking peace and justice always. -Jen

Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (WCC)

Everywhere we look today, life seems imperilled.  Isn’t it time for Christians and Christian churches everywhere to unite in sustaining life by working together on today’s most pressing issues? Isn’t it time for Christians everywhere to join in a sacred journey – a pilgrimage – of justice and peace?

Become involved in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace: an initiative of the WCC member churches “to work together in a common quest, renewing the true vocation of the church through collaborative engagement with the most important issues of justice and peace, healing a world filled with conflict, injustice and pain.”

Share your ideas and learn from fellow pilgrims: Please visit for multimedia resources and interaction guided by nine questions such as “What is a pilgrimage?” and “What are justice and peace?” Personal reflections on the pilgrimage theme, how it relates to the lives of the churches in various parts of the world, and to justice and peace issues that Christians are confronting in their communities, are being posted for discussion at

A Note of Thanks

As many of you who attended the All Canada Convention are aware, our long-time Treasurer, Minnie Rigg, is now enjoying a long deserved retirement. Minnie has served as our Treasurer for 27 years, providing excellent and faithful service to our Region during a time of momentous change and challenge.  She has been a devoted and trustworthy member of our Board over all these years, ensuring quality oversight and planning around our financial resources that are vital as we work on your behalf as an extension of your own congregational ministry. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for her gifts of service and oversight given freely to God’s ministry here in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada. Please join with the Regional Board in wishing Minnie a happy retirement with prayers for lots of time for golf, rest, and spending time with family and friends. We will miss you, Minnie! God bless you!

  • Are you having a special event, anniversary, or other note-worthy moment in the life of your congregation? Please forward photos and a short write-up to and we will include it in an upcoming edition of The Canadian Disciple.
  • In the next edition of The Canadian Disciple, we will explore some of the learnings from our Equipping for Mission session at the All Canada Convention. We will also share some of the Youth perspective on Encounter and the Convention. Its gonna be exciting so stay tuned!
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Copyright © 2016 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, All rights reserved.
Published September 9, 2016 (Guelph, Ontario)

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Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada · 86 Glasgow Street North · Guelph, Ontario N1H4W2 · Canada

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