Lynda Gow – 2014 Companion of the Centre

Lynda Gow was recognized as a Companion of the Centre on March 30, 2014.  The following citation was read by Ted Dodd at the Annual Service of Celebration…

Lynda Gow - Companion of the Centre
Lynda Gow – Companion of the Centre

Lynda Gow was born in Saint John, New Brunswick. Her formal education includes: her BA from the University of New Brunswick, the CCS Diploma, and a Masters in Diaconal Ministry, from St. Stephen’s College. Her extensive continuing education endeavours range: from a semester at St. Andrew’s Theological College (Saskatoon) to a Ministry of Supervision Course, from a Clinical Pastoral Education unit and training as a Sexual Abuse Consultant to biblical courses, from short term courses at St. Stephen’s College to study trips in India, Zambia, Iona, and Australia for the Parliament of World Religions.

Lynda loves to learn. She assesses clearly what she needs to learn, and intentionally goes about planning ways to develop her skills and grow as a person.

Before her official designation as a diaconal minister, Lynda worked as: a youth and young adult director in YWCA in St. John and a Manpower counselor in Amherst. Since commissioning in 1978, she has served congregations in: Sherwood Park, Alberta; St. Andrew’s United, Calgary; Southminister-Steinhauer, Edmonth and Knox-Metropolitan United, Edmonton.

Since retirement she has acted as Recreation Director, Ashbourne Assisted Living Place in Edmonton.

Her ministry has embraced educational endeavours and leadership development. She demonstrates a sensitivity that meets congregational members where they are. Mid week groups and Sunday school teachers have benefitted from her guidance. Traditional groups and members felt supported by Lynda. At the same time members with emerging interests and educational needs in areas such as feminism and justice in sexual orientation have appreciated her leadership.

Quietly and without fanfare, she journeys with others: providing pastoral care for the elderly, visiting in care facilities and in the homes of members who couldn’t get out anymore, accompanying those who are struggling with a variety of crises and concerns.

Social justice concerns and ecumenical connections have been important to her. She respects differences, honours diversity and carries a compassion for others.

Virtually all of her ministry positions have been in team ministries. In each of these situations she has proven herself a professional and a team player.

She dedicates herself to every task she undertakes: Local church committees, Presbytery Pastoral Relations, Conference Education and Students, The General Council permanent committee on Ministry and Employment Policies and Services, Diakonia of The United Church of Canada, CCS Harrassment Advisory Committee.

Her knowledge of church policies and procedures is connected with her wisdom. She can sit back, ponder a situation and then calmly offer a solution that is logical and doable. She approaches issues and making decisions with a gentle and informed honesty. If the situation calls for it she can certainly be firm and clear, but she is never authoritarian or controlling.

Throughout her ministry, she has mentored others in a way that people felt they could go to her with questions, hopes, fears. She listens patiently, without judgment offering her genuine acceptance of people her warmth and good humour and her unfailing friendship.

A woman of hospitality, her home acts as a gathering place for many special occasions and as a Bed and Breakfast for out of town guests. Her residence is a place of welcome, an easy place to be and it reflects her generosity of spirit.

Lynda values community, and learning in community. She has participated actively in the annual Women’s Weekend held in Alberta and Northwest Conference in retreats planned for diaconal ministers in the conference. In the national gathering of the United Church diaconal community.

Modeling self care Lynda, balances her commitment to others and to herself, keeps herself healthy and functioning well, maintains clear boundaries, claims time for rest and renewal, pursues leisure time activities that give her energy and life.

One of her nominators wrote: “Dedication, perseverance, loyalty, professionalism, and good humour are characteristics that define Lynda Gow.”

Another testified that Linda demonstrates great integrity: an integration of faith and life; an integration of theory and practice; an integration of faith, education, justice, service and pastoral care; an integration of the “inner” and “outward” life.

In naming Lynda as a Companion of CCS, we honour a person who, throughout her ministry, worked with a gentle diligence in roles assigned to her, while nudging herself and the church toward faithfulness and transformation.