The first minister to be appointed in Canada under the Mutual Recognition of Ministry Personnel program says there is one big difference between his homeland of the Philippines and Winnipeg, where he now lives. “It’s not just cold here, but very cold,” says the Rev. Noel Suministrado.

In 2015, as directed by the 42nd General Council, The United Church of Canada entered into formal agreements of mutual recognition of ministries with The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and The United Church of Christ in the Philippines. The United Church also signed a full communion agreement, which includes mutual recognition of ministries, with the United Church of Christ (USA).

Mutual recognition means that  two denominations accept the credentials of each other’s ordered ministers and authorize ministers to be employed in the other denomination’s congregations without being required to enter an admission process. Along with Noel, a minister from the United Church of Christ (USA) has been appointed in Canada, with another coming from PROK at the end of November. Several more applicants are in process but have not yet moved to search and appointment.

Noel’s leadership at Broadway Disciples United Church is welcome, says the Rev. Elizabeth Brown. As pastoral charge supervisor, she was heavily involved in the process of bringing him to Canada. “The congregation is so happy with him,” she adds. “He brings a wide range of life experiences, skills, and talents to the church.”

When asked about his goals, Noel says he wants to work with other Winnipeg congregations on community outreach programs. On a personal level, he has applied to be part of the Roman Catholic–United Church Dialogue aimed at fostering mutual understanding and Christian unity.

He also wants to reach out to young people in Winnipeg. A video on Facebook captures his success at doing that in the Philippines, as it shows him rock climbing with youths at the Tinandog Wall. A note from one of the participants reads: “Heartfelt gratitude to Pastor Noel Suministrado, who not only accompanied us to our rock climbing experience, but also taught us how to be responsible tourists and environment-sensitive future hospitality managers.”

Find out more about the Mutual Recognition of Ministry Personnel process.