Blyth, Brussels United Churches welcome new minister - May 18, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Hillary MacDonald officially began her time with Blyth and Brussels United Church on Sunday.
The student minister will serve as a part-time minister for the two churches until September when she will start an eight-month internship at the two churches, which is a necessary step towards becoming ordained.
MacDonald finished her Masters of Divinity last year at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax and said that Blyth and Brussels offered a unique opportunity for her to match two of her greatest desires for pursuing a life in the ministry.
“I was longing for a rural charge and longing to be close to my home in London,” she said. “Blyth and Brussels provided that opportunity.”
She said she met with former minister of the two-point charge, Gary Clark, and said everything seemed to work together.
“My learning goals match the needs of the congregation,” she said.
MacDonald will begin her full-time internship in September and she and her partner Kevin VanSpronsen, a mechanic at Argo in New Hamburg, plan to move to the area then. She is currently commuting from London.
After the eight-month internship, MacDonald will be ordained and, at that point, between herself and the congregations, her future within the two churches will be determined.
“There is the possibility that I will be called here after ordination,” she said. “It’s really up to what’s best for the congregation and me.”
MacDonald was born and raised in London and has attended Riverside United Church for most of her life. Her candidacy came out of that church.
She decided to pursue her current career after feeling a stirring while working within the ministry.
“I can remember it happened on July 7, 2011,” she said. “I had always been involved in the church through camps, conferences and youth groups and I never thought I would work in a church. It was on an eve of spiritual practice with a program I was running with the church when God called me to continue that work.”
She said the calling, which came while she was working with a youth program called The GO Project, made her realize that teaching doesn’t necessarily have to be in a classroom and can be done through the church.
MacDonald completed her undergraduate studies at Brock University where she studied Child and Youth studies with minors in Sociology and Psychology before she started working with the United Church of Canada.
With her first services under her belt, MacDonald said she was impressed by the communities she had experienced.
“Both Blyth and Brussels are small towns and people care for one another,” she said. “Yes, everyone knows each other’s business; that happens in a small town, but there is a deep longing of care for one another.”
She said both communities may be small, but they are filled with joy and possibility, pointing to the recent renovations at Blyth Memorial Hall and the Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company in Blyth and the construction of the Four Winds Barn Market, Bakery and Event Centre being built in Brussels.
MacDonald said she is looking forward to getting to know the community and can be reached through e-mail at email@example.com