Dr. Anne Squire, The United Church of Canada’s first female lay Moderator, died on Monday, April 24, in Ottawa. She was 96. Her daughters Marni, Lauri, and Fran were with her; friends from Emmanuel United Church had visited her earlier in the day.

Squire was Moderator from 1986 to 1988. During this period she had to deal with the anger some people felt while the United Church was considering whether gay and lesbian people were eligible to be ordained and commissioned ministers.

Even after she left that post, she remained passionate about this issue and many others. In 2005, she told a legislative committee in Ottawa that “equality is equality, and to make a difference between the marriages of one group and another is not equality.”

Born in Amherstburg, Ontario, in 1920, she taught school until her marriage to Bill Squire in 1943. They were married for more than 73 years, with Bill dying in October 2016. She received her M.A. in Religion from Carleton University in 1975, then her Doctor of Divinity from Queen’s University in 1985. In 1982 she was appointed Secretary of the United Church Division of Ministry Personnel and Education. Four years later, she was elected Moderator.

In a profile she wrote about herself in 1986, Squire noted: “My theology of ministry is that all ministry is the ministry of Jesus Christ, and we are invited to participate in that. Lay people have as much to offer as those in the Order of Ministry. All that I have done is to help that concept of ministry be accepted by the church.”

There will be a memorial service for Dr. Squire at Emmanuel United Church, 691 Smythe Road in Ottawa, on Thursday, May 4, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow.