History has been made in Ridgetown.
For the first time in the history of the United Church of Canada, a female person of colour has been commissioned.
The Antler River Watershed Regional Council held a Spring meeting on June 11. The hybrid meeting was held online and in person at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus in the gymnasium of the Rudy H. Brown Rural Development Centre (RDC) Building.
Approximately 75 people gathered to celebrate the ministry service of Sharon Campbell Rayment and Charmain Bailey.
Rayment was ordained in the United Church of Canada, and Charmain Bailey was commissioned to diaconal ministry.
“That was history for the United Church of Canada because Bailey was the first female person of colour to be commissioned in the United Church of Canada,” said Lynne Wilson, Minister at Erie Street United Church.
Diaconal ministers serve in all aspects of ministry and are formally called to education, service, social justice, and pastoral care. Diaconal ministry, rooted in the tradition and history of the Diakonia, “encourages a growing faith, speaks truth to power, seeks mutual empowerment, proclaims prophetic hope, nurtures life-giving community, fosters peaceful, right relationships within the church of the whole creation.”
There are approximately 300 diaconal ministers in the United Church.
Wilson said the ceremony was emotional and an important step to take for inclusivity.
“It shows we’re living into our ministry to be inclusive and be who the church needs to be. We’re not just talking the talk. We’re walking the walk,” she said. “It’s one thing to say you’re inclusive, and it’s another thing to back it up and prove it. In this case, the United Church is living into that.”
Wilson said she hopes the biggest takeaway is that people recognize Ridgetown is a place where history has been set. She said this is not just a celebration for the United Church of Canada but highlighted it’s a marker for Canada as a whole.
“When you see things changing for people of colour, it’s a good thing. To think that happened in Ridgetown, people should be happy about that. We often look at what’s negative in life, but this is such a positive thing. People are moving forward,” said Wilson.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News