At the end of the summer I sat down with our minister Emily Gordon to catch up after a whirlwind 16 months at Leaside United Church to take a breath and reflect on the time that has passed and what’s new for Emily and our new Leaside United Church. Here are some of the questions I asked and what her responses were.
Michele Petick, Webmaster
1. What have you learned in your time at Leaside United Church?
The willingness of people to try new things stands out most to me as something I have learned. There is still a love for traditions but the ease in which the congregations of both Leaside United and Presteign-Woodbine put energy into growing and testing new things out is wonderful. As an example we tried out a new type of worship this summer examining different religions and faith questions and our Sunday Worship was full of inquiring minds and a desire to learn more. We have many active ministries going on now with the new Environment/Climate Justice Group, the Arts and Crafts Drop-In Group and two Muslim Study groups. We are a busy church of action and intentional learning.
Something new for me has been the recent Affirming designation. This was an area I have been familiar with most of my life being a member of Bloor Street United Church but I haven’t experienced ministry at the early stage of the designation before. As a part of our continued commitment to learning we have invited a speaker to join us in November named Rev. Evan Smith who works with Toronto Urban Native Ministry, to talk about the First Nations understanding of Two Spirit. Watch for more details on this not to be missed Sunday.
2. When you worked with Rev. Rose Ann Vita what did you learn about her and her goals?
Rose Ann is an Intentional Interim Minister and she specializes in the type of Ministry we required with the coming together of Leaside and Presteign-Woodbine United. Rose Ann has had special training in transition and discernment. Congregations need this specialized minister to seek guidance with questions like “What do we do in the future?” as in the example of say a long time minister leaving a congregation for retirement. There are issues of grief and questions like “Now who do we want to be?”. Rose Ann is skilled at these types of transitions and creates specific goals with the congregations she works with to help them get to the other side of their questions. Rose Ann is one of a small number of Intentional Interim Ministers in Ontario. Her contract ended with Presteign-Woodbine United Church and Leaside United Church on August 31st. She was called to another Interim Ministry position within two weeks of finishing her work with us. She is now has a two year contract at Emmanuel United Church in Brampton, Ontario. The timing could not have been better for her and we thanked her and wished her and the new congregation she is working with all the best.
3. You are pregnant with your first child. What stories of faith will be the first you share with your child?
Definitely not Noah’s Ark!
Parables like the Good Samaritan are reminders of what is central to living our faith. Most important I think will be telling my child stories that embody the core of our faith that “God IS Love”. I want my child to know about Jesus’ radical thinking, welcome, inclusion, challenging society’s perception at times and that all people matter.
4. What is your plan for pregnancy leave from Leaside United Church?
Ontario offers two leaves, Pregnancy Leave of 17 weeks (available to the birthing parent) and Parental Leave of 35 weeks (which can be taken by either parent or shared) for a total of 52 weeks. I am due at the end of November and will begin Pregnancy Leave on November 14, 2017 and will return on March 13, 2018 (in time for Easter 2018 celebrations on April 1st). Transition of ministry at Leaside United Church will occur on November 14th with the Supply Minister (currently being selected by the Search Team). We are right on track with this timing. My partner, Nikhil, is looking forward to Parental Leave with our child after I finish Pregnancy Leave. I’m grateful to the LUC staff, search team, and Nikhil for everything they’re doing to make this plan work, and there is flexibility if things change.
5. How are you feeling physically, mentally and spiritually about this part of your story and becoming a mother?
My pregnancy is typical and uneventful so far at seven months. In the beginning I read a lot of pregnancy books and ended up with information overload. Now I’m mostly focusing on doing what I can and staying true to who I am. Most of the books and websites I came across are still hetero-normative and don’t honour same sex relationships or other possibilities, which needs to change. There’s also a lot of attention on the consumption aspects of parenting (all the things we supposedly need to buy to take the best care of the child) as well as on the ways I somehow need to make motherhood my defining characteristic. Do I really need to keep a pregnancy journal to show my child I’m thinking about them? Having children is a choice Nikhil and I made, and which we’re really happy about, but it’s not a general statement of what I think is most important in life.
LAST BOOK(S): Gunpowder Alchemy and Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin, which are steampunk books, a relatively new genre based on clockwork, steam technology, science fiction, Victorian society images and ideas, often with female protagonists who challenge gender expectations by becoming inventors and adventurers. Lin’s books take place in mid 19th century China, a counter to the lack of racial and cultural diversity in writers and settings in the genre.
LAST MEAL: Boiled Egg, Toast, Fruit & Yogurt
LAST CONVERSATION: With my mom, talking about my parents going on a short holiday up north.
LAST PURCHASE: Chocolate Bar … an Oh Henry Bar
LAST FILM WATCHED: A Bollywood movie Nikhil and I went to see at the theatre, I can’t remember the name of it right now. On our “to watch list” is a movie called “Menashe” set in New York’s Hasidic Jewish community centering around the struggles of one man after losing custody of his son when his wife passes away.
Emily is available and welcomes a visit if you would like to talk about something on your mind or have questions of faith or just questions of any kind. She would like to meet with as many people as she can from the congregation before she goes on Pregnancy Leave in November. Contact her by phone or email at Emily@leasideunited.org or 647-303-6709.
Keep your eye on church emails and the website for news about our supply minister, as well as about our opportunity to celebrate together Emily and Nikhil’s expected new arrival. A Baby Shower Open House is planned for Saturday November 4th, 2017 from 1-3pm more details to come.