People in Partnership invites you to learn more about the work and mission of partners around the world by inviting an individual to come and share their stories with United Church of Canada communities of faith. Find out more about these pilgrims, companions, co-workers and learners below. Although speakers are grouped by region below, many are available to present and share remotely with your community of faith online. Please contact pip [at] united-church.ca to invite a speaker.
Featured Speakers Currently Available
Walking with Peace, Reclaiming Hope! Young Adult Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, Pilgrim in Mission, South Korea
In August 2019, four United Church young adults participated in a youth Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace organized by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea (EYCK). They were joined by participants from 22 other countries. The NCCK is a Mission & Service partner.
Joseph Yong Wook Kim (Toronto), Amy Wood (Winnipeg), Scott Kell (London, Ontario), and Sandy Hwang (Vancouver) (L to R in photo) are eager to share their experiences of this unique young adult pilgrimage and work together towards peace and reunification. You can get a glimpse of their experience by reading Sandy's blog post Without History, There is No Future.
“Seeing the unification of pilgrims from all over the world come together to support human beings in the face of the current separation in the Korean peninsula and across the globe was inspiring.”
Youth for Peace Pilgrimage, Pilgrim in Mission, Palestine and Israel
Eleven United Church of Canada young adults visited Palestine and Israel in August 2019. This national Youth for Peace program marked the 10-year anniversary of both the inaugural Youth for Peace Pilgrimage and of the release of Kairos Palestine’s A Moment of Truth document. You can read an interview with two of the young adults in their blog post Journey to the Heart of the Holy Land. You may also wish to read A trip to the holy land taught us to bear witness to injustice, an article from pilgrimage leader the Very Rev. David Giuliano published in Broadview (formerly the United Church Observer).
Participants came from the following regions: Prince Edward Island; Sherbrooke and Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa and Sudbury, Ontario; Winnipeg; Yorkton, Saskatchewan; Calgary; Kelowna and Kamloops, British Columbia. They are eager to share about their experiences.
Come & See Pilgrimage, Pilgrim in Mission, Palestine and Israel
In October 2018, Newfoundland and Labrador Conference sponsored a group of United Church members from across Canada to visit Palestine and Israel for a Holy Land Pilgrimage. The visit was a response to the calling from UCC global partners in Palestine Israel to ‘come and see’ from a multi viewpoint perspective on advocacy in the region.
Participants came from the following regions: Newfoundland; Central Nova Scotia; Goose Bay, Labrador; London area, Ontario; Regina area, Saskatchewan; Calgary area, Alberta.
“…there was a potent moment when the Muslim call to prayer rose in the air, the sound hovering above the singing and dancing of the Jewish people as they welcomed Shabbat. But in my dream, there was also another prayer, another presence...the stones underfoot were beating, beating, beating.”
Kelsi James, Co-worker in Mission, China
Kelsi is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Performance program. She recently served as the Music & Worship Coordinator at Camp Spirit, a summer daycamp program that is a collaboration among 14 United Churches in British Columbia. She is a multidisciplinary performance artist and creator, and is a strong believer in the power of community and collaboration to create positive social change.
Kelsi has returned from teaching English in Lanzhou, China with Mission & Service partner the Amity Foundation. You can read about her experiences in her blog posts.
Keith Simmonds, Companion in Mission, Palestine and IsraelCredit: Courtesy of Keith Simmonds
Region: Vancouver Island
Keith Simmonds is the minister at Duncan United Church in Duncan, BC. Part of his ministry includes engagement in justice and reconciliation work. Keith used three months of his recent sabbatical level to participate in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, an initiative of the World Council of Churches (a Mission & Service partner). Participants of the programme monitor and report violations of human rights and international law, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy, and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.
Brianna Huet, Pilgrim in Mission, Japan and South Korea
Region: Lower Mainland BC
Brianna is a member of the former Okanagan/Kamloops Presbytery, participating in their leadership cycle and being involved in outdoor ministry outlets and youth retreats. She was also part of a 2017 BC Conference delegation visiting the Gyeonggi South presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea.
Briana participated in the 2018 Korea Peace Treaty Seminar organized by the National Council of Churches in Korea. The Seminar, including study sessions and exposure experiences in Korea and Japan, brought together about 20 people from around the globe to learn about, educate others and advocate on issues of peace and reunification in the Korean peninsula.
“South Korea stole a piece of my heart when I was there, showing me all the work that is possible to be done by hard work and the grace of God.”
Tony Snow, Conference of Parties 25 (COP25), Madrid, Spain
Tony Snow is from Stoney Nakoda First Nation and is currently a student at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre (he plans to be ordained in 2020). He currently works in Indigenous ministry at Hillhurst United Church in Calgary and spiritual development at McDougall United Church in Edmonton.
Tony Snow and Wendy Evans represented the United Church at the United Nations' 25th climate negotiations conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. More about their experiences is available online: COP25 Delegation Announcement, 2019 UN Climate Negotiations Fall Short, and their videos from COP25 (United Action for Justice's Facebook page).
Jacob Burns, Pilgrim in Mission, Japan
Region: Central Alberta
Jacob Burns recently graduated high school and plans to become a chef. He is an alumnus of the United Church youth programs Wampum and Gibimishkaadmin. He is proud of his Cree culture. Jacob Burns and Jacqueline Warner-Smith took part in the 2019 Minority Youth Forum in Hokkaido, Japan, hosted by the Center for Minority Issues and Mission (CMIM). For both Jacob and Jacqueline, going to Japan was a dream come true as they both have a long-time interest in the people and cultures of Japan. Read more about their experiences in the blog post Sharing Cultures, Working for Peace.
Paul Walfall, All Africa Conference of Churches, KenyaCredit: Courtesy of Paul Douglas Walfall
Region: Edmonton area
The Rev. Dr. Paul Douglas Walfall is the minister of the Fort Saskatchewan Community of Faith in the Northern Spirit Regional Council; he is also a member of the 43rd General Council Executive.
In October 2019, he travelled to Kenya to attend the All Africa Conference of Churches symposium on “Misleading Theologies” and visit United Church partners in the region. You can read about his symposium experience in his blog post Confronting Misleading Theologies.
Jacqueline Warner-Smith, Pilgrim in Mission, Japan
Region: Sudbury, Ontario
Jacqueline has been active in United Church youth programs and is an active member of St. Andrew's United Church in Sudbury. She attended the 2019 Minority Youth Forum in Hokkaido, Japan with Jacob Burns (above). Read more about their experiences in the blog post Sharing Cultures, Working for Peace.
Sarah MacGregor, Pilgrim in Mission, Japan
Region: Huron County and North Bay, Ontario
Sarah is a member of Brucefield Community United Church, just north of London, Ontario. She has been involved in youth initiatives at various levels of the church, such as a GC43 commissioner, a program coordinator with GO Project, an employee of Camp Menesetung, and a guest at the All Native Circle Spiritual Gathering.
Sarah MacGregor and Martha Wood were both guests at the 2018 Minority Youth Forum in Hokkaido, Japan, hosted by the Center for Minority Issues and Mission (CMIM). The 2018 Forum focused on the history, injustices, and challenges that affect the indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan, as well as other indigenous peoples around the world. Find out more about Sarah and Martha’s experience by reading their blog post Allow Me to Softly Touch Your Heart.
“A big first step to loving and serving others is being actively engaged in listening and conversation.”
Kim Uyede-Kai, Pilgrim in Mission, Asian Ecumenical Women’s Assembly, Taiwan
Region: Toronto area
Kim Uyede-Kai is Minister, Right Relations and Indigenous Justice serving the regional councils of Antler River Watershed, Horseshoe Falls, and Western Ontario Waterways. She lives in Toronto, traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, and Upper Canada and Dish with One Spoon treaties.
Kim attended the Asian Ecumenical Women’s Association in Hsinchu, Taiwan in November 2019. You can read about her experience in her blog post Sharing Our Stories, Claiming Our Names.
Deivit Montealegre, Learner in Mission, Emmanuel College, Toronto
Region: Toronto area
Deivit Montealegre is a Colombian-Argentinian theologian who is passionate about economics and religion, as well as committed to social development and LGBTQ+ rights. He is currently studying in the Master of Arts, Theological Studies program at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, partially sponsored by the Anne Duncan Grey fund.
Deivit was an invited speaker at the 2019 Affirm United/S'affirmer ensemble Conference in Calgary and is eager to have the opportunity to present and share his perspectives with United Church communities of faith while in Canada (he will remain in Canada at least until summer 2020).
Ralph Wushke, Pilgrim in Mission, Netherlands
Region: Toronto area
Ralph Carl Wushke is recently retired from his positions as Minister at Bathurst Street United Church, and Ecumenical Chaplain at the University of Toronto. His work in the field of AIDS/HIV extends back to the 1990s.
Ralph attended the 2018 International AIDS Conference and the pre-event Faith Building Bridges (hosted by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance) as part of an inter-faith chaplaincy team embedded among 15,000 participants from around the world. Find out more about Ralph’s experience by reading his blog post: The End of AIDS by 2030?
“In an HIV context, a sermon about Miriam saving Moses’ life made all the difference: both mother and child got back on treatment."
Martha Wood, Pilgrim in Mission, Japan
Region: Bracebridge, Ontario (Shining Waters Region)
Martha Wood is a member of Bracebridge United Church. She was also part of a 2017 Toronto Conference delegation visiting the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, and as a steward at the 2017 General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Leipzig.
Martha Wood and Sarah MacGregor were both guests at the Minority Youth Forum in Hokkaido, Japan, hosted by the Center for Minority Issues and Mission (CMIM). The 2018 Forum focused on the history, injustices, and challenges that affect the indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan, as well as other indigenous peoples around the world. Find out more about Sarah and Martha’s experience by reading their blog post Allow Me to Softly Touch Your Heart.
“I believe that travel is one of the best ways to learn about the people, places and cultures that share the Earth.”
Lyn Miller, Companion in Mission, China
Region: Peterborough, Ontario and surrounding area
Lyn Miller is a retired teacher and active member of Emmanuel United Church in Peterborough, Ontario, including being the Mission and Service enthusiast, teaching in the Sunday School, and sitting on committees at the local, presbytery, and conference levels.
Lyn took part in the 2018 Summer English Program in China hosted by the Amity Foundation, a Mission & Service partner. The United Church of Canada and Amity have been working together as partners since 1985.
"I am thinking … how privileged I am to have this opportunity and how gracious and welcoming the Chinese people have been."
Adele Boy, Companion in Mission, Palestine and Israel
Region: Peterborough, Ontario and surrounding area
Adele Boy is a retired secondary school teacher and Curriculum Leader from the Toronto District school Board where she taught Dramatic Arts and English for 32 years. She is an active member of Sandford United Church as well as doing pulpit supply as a Licensed Lay Worship Leader.
Adele participated in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, an initiative of the World Council of Churches, a Mission & Service partner. Participants of the programme monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy and, in general, stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.
Find out more about Adele’s experience by reading her blog posts.
"Sipping tea, from a seat under a lemon tree, Ahmed and I can see The Wall (the separation barrier) on three sides of his family's farm.”
Zaya Kuyena, Pilgrim in Mission, India
Region: Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec areas
Zaya Kuyena is a member of Parkdale United Church, as well as the Student Christian Movement in Ottawa. Zaya’s been involved with his community of faith in various ways, including supporting a recently-arrived Syrian refugee family, mentoring youth, and taking part in the Social Justice and Communications committee.
Zaya recently accompanied United Church Delegate Hans van Nie to Chennai, India for the 2018 Annual General Meeting of Mission & Service partner Oikocredit (a worldwide microfinance investor). While there, they also visited with Mission & Service partner the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation.
“I guess the ordinary can too be radical if we choose it to be.”
Wendy Evans, Conference of Parties 25 (COP25), Madrid, Spain
The Rev. Wendy Evans is an ordained minister currently living and working in Montreal. She teaches liturgy at United Theological College and serves as board chair for Montreal City Mission, a United Church community ministry. Tony Snow and Wendy Evans represented the United Church at the United Nations' 25th climate negotiations conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. More about their experiences is available online: COP25 Delegation Announcement, 2019 UN Climate Negotiations Fall Short, and their videos from COP25 (United Action for Justice's Facebook page).
Gary MacDonald, Pilgrim in Mission, Kenya
Gary MacDonald is an active member of Sackville United Church and community, including being a Sunday school teacher, choir member, and food bank volunteer, and is interested in the art of storytelling.
Gary took part in the 2019 AFARI Kenya Trip hosted by the American Friends of Asian Rural Institute (AFARI). The group was accompanied by the Executive Director and met graduates of the Asian Rural Institute, a Mission & Service partner. The United Church of Canada and ARI have been working together as partners for many years. Find out more about Gary’s experience by reading his blog posts: We Are All Bound Together and Growing Change Around the World.
“What a privilege to visit Kenya. The skills and confidence that Kenyans gained at the Asian Rural Institute is leading to impressive success in their community work.”
Emma Taylor, Pilgrim in Mission, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Ethiopia
Emma Taylor is a recent university graduate. Her home church is St. Paul’s United Church in Westville, NS; she has just moved to Halifax, NS and now attends Bedford United Church in Bedford, NS. She is active in the Regional Council 15 youth forum and numerous other youth leadership opportunities. She has a particular interest in global health.
Emma took part in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank Learning Tour for Educators to Ethiopia in August 2019. The United Church is a member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank; you can read about the incredible women farmers Emma met in her blog post Women Farmers Lead the Way.
“The courage and success of the women farmers I met is inspiring. Their example has truly empowered me, as a woman, to never back down, even if others are telling you that you won’t succeed.”
Laura Ritcey, Pilgrim in Mission, Curaçao, Caribbean
Laura Ritcey is an active member of Harmony United Church in Saint John, New Brunswick and is interested in growing the church. She works as a Personal Support Worker and enjoys getting to know and helping people.
Laura took part in the 2019 Young Adults in Mission Youth Camp in Soto, Curaçao organized by Mission & Service partner CANACOM (Caribbean and North America Council for Mission). The United Church of Canada has been a part of this Council since its founding.
Didn’t find who you were looking for? There may be other speakers available in your region; please contact us at pip [at] united-church.ca for more information.
Do these profiles pique your interest in people-to-people opportunities with global partners? Visit our list of Current Opportunities to learn more about how to participate.