There is something about being in a church full of people gathered to honour an exceptional life, well lived. Those who gathered at Emmanuel United Church in Ottawa on Thursday remembered Anne Squire as one of the people who started that congregation, where just a few weeks before her death she moved the motion that made her congregation an affirming congregation, something she had been working towards for years.

As the first lay woman to serve as Moderator of the United Church, Anne’s leadership was ground breaking and very public. Her ministry was also exercised in less visible ways through a multitude of messages, conversations, and gestures that encouraged others serving the church, especially women. I treasure the knitted crèche figures that she sent to me the first Christmas that I was in the role of General Secretary.

One of the pictures on display at the funeral was of Anne with the Very Rev. Sang Chul Lee. They are both smiling broadly, at the General Council where he took over from her as Moderator. I was in Yellowknife as part of my sabbatical when Sang Chul Lee died earlier this year. Born to Korean parents in Siberia, he was the first Moderator of Asian descent, another ground-breaking leader of our church. I am grateful that my role allowed me to meet both these wonderful people.

Meanwhile at the General Council Office, we are busy preparing for the spring meeting of the General Council Executive, which will take place this weekend. Executive members took part in two preparatory webinars earlier this week and the meeting itself will also be held electronically. This will be the second time that the Executive has met in this way, and I am impressed with their adaptability to new ways of meeting and new ways of communicating. Air travel shrunk Canada’s huge geography a generation ago, and now interactive video conferencing is taking things a step further.

Even as we honour the saints of the church who have gone before us, we seek to serve God in the ways that are needed in these times, with all the tools available now to create connections across the breadth of our church community.


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