PO Box 100, Carlisle, Ontario L0R 1H0 | Phone: 1-833-236-0280 | wowrc@united-church.ca
purple stained glass reflecting on a brick wall

diane blanchardIt has been such a privilege to serve the communities of faith and ministry personnel of Antler River Watershed, Horseshoe Falls and Western Ontario Waterways Regional Councils over the past three and a half years as we transitioned from conferences to the regional council governance and to the brand new Office of Vocation.

More than changes in staffing, more than a new executive and commissions, more than new policies or processes or software platforms, the change of the structure of The United Church of Canada is intended to make the church more nimble and responsive in the midst of the rapid changes that are happening within our society and the world. And I know that, in the midst of this change process, none of us felt very nimble! Yet together we put our minds and hearts into learning. And that was before the pandemic brought a cascade of more learning, stretching us in ways we never imagined possible!

It has been a joy to work alongside such disciples.

Thank you for all the ways you’ve stayed the course through the sometimes overwhelming waves of change that have washed over us. I know it hasn’t been easy. I’m very, very grateful to all of you. In particular, the Human Resources Commission and the LLWL Resource Team have worked hard to do the work that several presbyteries did in the past. We have an up-to-date list of dedicated Licensed Lay Worship Leaders. Search teams are being trained and are working to offer equitable access to positions of ministry leadership. Calls and appointments and new positions are flowing through Churchhub in ways that are really quite helpful now, with very few errors.

Many strong volunteers work as regional liaisons to support communities of faith in their search and selection process, ending with the celebration of covenanting services as new ministries begin. Facilitators of the United Fresh Start program continue to be available to support ministers in peer groups and offer modules of thought-provoking educational material related to congregational leadership to communities of faith. Together, these many, many volunteers, disciples of Christ willing to further the efforts of the regional council, the wider church, serve you. For their gracious care for communities of faith and ministry personnel, I am grateful. It has been a joy to work alongside such disciples.

I will continue to pray for your well-being, faithfulness and strength.

I am also grateful for the staff I’ve been a part of, people who are willing to support one another through thick and thin. They are gifted and they have a heart to serve the regional council through their various portfolios. Talking with one another and sharing our knowledge of the many communities of faith helps us serve you better. Thank you, Cheryl-Ann, for your visionary and caring leadership through the transition to regional councils and for the nurturing way you bring out the best in me and other staff.

With confidence, I welcome Micol Cottrell as the new Minister, Pastoral Relations, who began on August 1. I will work with Micol as he steps into the role, until August 23. Then I have the privilege to accompany my daughter to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. When I return, I look forward to caring for my year-old granddaughter several days a week.

As I move into retirement, I know I will miss these many connections; miss hearing about you and the lives of communities of faith and ministry personnel, but I will continue to pray for your well-being, faithfulness and strength. Your cards, kind emails, calls, presence at the retirement party at the regional office or by zoom and the gifts given by the Staff Committee on your behalf have meant more than you know.

My beautiful bowl overflows with gratitude and I feel surrounded by your prayers.

Thank you and God bless you,

Diane Blanchard