Reverend Emily Gordon
Emily Gordon completed a Honours BA (Mount Allison University), and a MA (Simon Fraser University) in English, before returning to her childhood home of Toronto. She received an MDiv from Emmanuel College, and followed this with a Clinical Pastoral Education unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Ministry experience prior to her ordination includes working as Children, Families, and Outreach Ministry Coordinator at Bloor Street United Church, a placement with Boarding Homes Ministry (an ecumenical inner city ministry based on creating caring community between members of congregations and residents of boarding homes), supply preaching at numerous congregations, and an internship at Kincardine United Church. Emily had an appointment with Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, before joining the team at Leaside United.
Emily loves creativity in worship, and strives to create spaces where all are welcomed and valued. How do we live out the big questions in our everyday actions? You will notice that she listens closely, asks questions, and continues to challenge the faith of herself and others. You will also notice that she loves to read, strives to live lightly on the earth, and enjoys tea and dark chocolate.
Christian Education Director
Tanya Wiles-Bell Tanya joined the Ministerial team at LUC in September of 2009 as Director of Christian Education after teaching pre-school and kindergarten for 22 years. Along with her family (John, Michaela, David and Adriana), Tanya has been an active member at Leaside United for over 20 years. With energy and enthusiasm to spare, she hopes to nurture growth in the area of family and youth ministry here at Leaside.
Tanya has a particular interest in social equity and works towards breaking down barriers between generations and giving a voice to those who feel marginalized. In order to broaden the community experience for the youth at Leaside, Tanya has been meeting with other United Church youth leaders to plan and lead experiential inter youth events that focus on issues such as inner city youth poverty, environmental responsibility and LGBT awareness.
Tanya holds a B.A from York University and is a Registered Early Childhood Educator (Centennial College). In September 2010 she began part time studies at Emmanuel College, at the University of Toronto, working towards a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies.
Sharon L. Beckstead
Sharon L. Beckstead has been the Music Director at Leaside United Church in Toronto conducting the professional calibre volunteer Chancel Choir and young voiced Junior Choir since the fall of 1993. She is a Past President of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada having completed her six year term in 2004. In addition to her church duties she has taught piano and organ privately and is Manager, Member Services for the Canadian Snowbird Association. Sharon was born in Winnipeg, where she studied piano with Beth Cooil and organ with Conrad Grimes. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, she continued organ study at the University of Alberta with Hugh Bancroft. She attended the Westphalian Church Music School in West Germany for two summer sessions, studying organ with Arno Schoenstedt and conducting with Klaus Martin Zielger and has appeared in recitals and hymn festivals in Germany and across Canada and the USA.
Sharon also served as a member of the editorial committee for “Songs for a Gospel People” and is the editor of “All God’s Children Sing” (both from Wood Lake Books). She was active as a proof-reader and general moral support for “Voices United” and as proof-reader for the Anglican hymnbook “Common Praise”. As Music Editor from 1993 – 1998 of “Gathering-A Packet for Worship Planners,” (published by the United Church), she included a hymn festival in each issue.
A founding member of the United Church of Canada’s Association of Musicians (1988), she served as Alberta Conference representative until 1993. She continued on the advisory board as Vice-Co-Chair and Co-Chair until 2009. Sharon is a founding Fellow and Provost of the Honourable Company of Organists.
She was Music Director of Highlands United Church in Edmonton from 1976 to 1993 where she had three handbell choirs along with Junior and Senior Choirs.
She has also been active as a clinician presenting hymn-based workshops and choral reading sessions across Canada and the USA. Sharon continues contributing to the Hymn Society as reviewer of hymn based recording for the quarterly journal, “The Hymn”.
Jean Marie Suchora
Pastoral Care Minister
Jean Marie was born in Olean, a small town in Western New York along the Pennsylvania border. She was raised Roman Catholic and after High School became a Felician Franciscan nun. She remained active in the order for over 35 years during which time she ministered in roles as a primary grade teacher, director of religious education and associate director and spiritual director at a retreat Centre near Buffalo, NY. Upon moving to Canada she was a chaplain at both North York General Hospital and North York General Seniors Health Centre in Toronto. In all of these ministries, her skills in Pastoral Counseling have played a vital role.
Jean Marie received a BA from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY and a MA in Pastoral Counseling from Boston College, Boston, Mass.
She has been active in many professional organizations related to her ministries and continues to find meaning as a Pastoral Care Minister here at Leaside United Church. Ministry for her is one of “ministering “with”, where she shares her talents as well as grows from the “life stories’ shared by those with whom she serves.
Besides ministering here at LUC, Jean Marie is active in her own Church, St. Luke’s in Thornhill where she volunteers in the “Out of the Cold Program”, assists as Librarian for the parish and co-moderates a Bible Study Group held at the church.
She loves being a part of the community at LUC and has found that the goodness, compassion and a caring she has witnessed here is what ‘church’ is all about.
Phone: (647) 896-0241
Alison Jane joined the Leaside United Church family as the Office Administrator in December, 2015. She was somewhat familiar with the church as her twin sister, Anne-Louise, was a former Voluntary Associate Minister and former Pastoral Care Minister. Alison has felt warmly welcomed by the congregation and staff and enjoys being a part of a vibrant and progressive congregation.
Alison is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto (piano). She also received an organ performance degree from the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music in London, and was Organ Scholar at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Fredericton, NB (1988-1992). Alison received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Victoria, and has written extensively on the interdisciplinary nature of music, fine art, and 18th and 19th century poetics and aesthetics. She is passionate about the spontaneous nature of art and music making in the healing process and studied the Helen Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music, a therapeutic model which utilizes her classical music studies. Alison recently retired as Art Therapist and Support Services Coordinator at Doane House Hospice, Newmarket, where she worked with bereaved children and teens, caregivers, and palliative patients.
Alison’s hobbies and interests include acrylic painting, piano and organ accompaniment, photography, interior design, house sitting for her doggie friends, and writing and research.
Kim Morgan moved to Canada from the Caribbean island St. Lucia. He lives with his wife Sylvia and two sons. Both his boys play baseball and Kim is an avid soccer player. He loves to laugh and put a smile on other people’s faces and thinks the Maple Leafs are the best NHL team!
Kim joins the LUC team as our Custodian after years of experience in the building cleaning/janitorial industry and as an assistant superintendent.