Anne Manikel – 2021 Companion of the Centre

Anne Manikel – 2021 Companion of the Centre

On April 17, 2021 the Centre for Christian Studies recognized Anne Manikel with the Companion of the Centre Award. Anne was to have received the Companion award in 2020, but due to covid-19 restrictions that year’s Annual Service of Celebration was cancelled. This makes Anne the 2020 and 2021 Companion of the Centre!

CCS Principal Michelle Owens introduced Anne at the Annual Service of Celebration:

Anne grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she attended St. Andrew’s River Heights United Church, an active church with a large congregation (there were 65 in her confirmation class). Following high school, Anne studied agricultural economics at the University of Manitoba. 

Anne and her partner Randy Manikel were farmers and business owners near St. Jean, MB. There they raised their family of three, and were active members of Morris United Church in Morris, MB.  Anne described becoming an active leader in youth programs and events at this time “because someone needed to do it”, and her involvement grew to include larger Conference events, and eventually participating in “LEAP” – Lay Education in Action Program. These leadership experiences gave her a broader perspective on ministry – what it was – and also a growing insight that “Hey, I’m good at this!”  This prompted her to ask “What’s next?” – and this question led her to enrol in the Western Field-Based Diaconal Ministry program in 1991

Anne received the Diploma in Diaconal Ministry in 1996, was commissioned to Diaconal ministry and was settled to Trinity United Church in Winnipeg. She completed her Bachelor of Theology in Diaconal Ministry in 1999. 

Subsequent ministries, all in Manitoba, were with the University of Manitoba Chaplaincy; Selkirk-Cloverdale Pastoral Charge (where she was Chair of Selkirk Presbytery); the Oak Table Ministry in Winnipeg; Snow Lake United Church; and Niverville United Church. 

The question “Where am I needed?” has shaped Anne’s ministry journey, including her time at Snow Lake – a congregation she had seen come away vacant from the Settlement process too many years in a row. Anne says it would take her about 8 hours ‘flying by car’ north of Winnipeg to arrive in Snow Lake. 

Anne Manikel lives out her call of diaconal ministry. She works tirelessly to see that the needs of the vulnerable are met. She challenges the church to take its gifts to the world. She brings the needs of the world to the church. The spirit of Diakonia infuses her life. She cares about her community and the world. She inspires others through her words and service.

Anne has a gift of seeing need in communities, and bringing people alongside to go to the places of need – whether in northern Manitoba, or by asking the question “What does social ministry look like in suburbia?” and establishing the Southside Seniors ministry at her settlement charge – a ministry initiative that continues to this day. 

After moving to Nanaimo, BC, Anne completed Interim Ministry training and served at Lake Cowichan United, and St. Paul’s United in Sidney. In 2012-13 Anne filled a staffing gap at Brechin United Church in Nanaimo BC with a half time appointment for 8 months, and Brechin has been her home congregation during her retirement, a time that Anne describes as having much more freedom to do diaconal ministry (compared to active paid ministry)

Seeing a need to revive the Mission and Outreach Committee, Anne served as co-chair, and revitalized the committee and the work with intentional planning and studying the community needs in Nanaimo and making connections locally and nationally. 

Anne’s volunteer work in Nanaimo has included food distribution and food security and shelter for un-housed people. She was also a key leader in Brechin United’s process of becoming an Affirming congregation – carrying forward commitment to justice and inclusion for LGBTQ+ people that had been important in her chaplaincy work. 

The Affirm process led Brechin to engage with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and make commitments towards reconciliation, including education on Indian Residential Schools and connecting with local First Nations leaders. 

Becoming an Affirming congregation has not be a destination, but rather a door opening to further work support the LGBTQ+ community in Nanaimo, through partnerships with groups like Reaching Out, PFLAG and ROAR. ROAR is a project at the intersection of LGBTQ+ advocacy and refugee sponsorship, working to bring LGBTQ refugees to Canada. 

Anne lives comfortably with changes large and small. She encourages others to adapt in whatever ways are necessary to fulfil the church’s calling of service to the community. Her capacity to remain faithful to the hope of a more just and caring world is note-worthy. Anne would be the first to say that the activities described above were all team efforts, not the result of her work alone. That is of course true, but it is equally true that without Anne’s vision and passion, rooted in the love/service spirit of diaconal ministry, Brechin simply would not have achieved all it did.

Anne’s ministry embodies a diaconal approach to ministry: from experience and seeing with open eyes to education to action. I see the spiral in action in Anne Manikel’s ministry. Her ability to foster meaningful relationships, to bring people alongside and bringing them along makes her truly a “Companion” leader. 

In one of our conversations, Anne told me “No matter the size or location of a church, there are neighbourhood issues; a minister has only one set of eyes; things come through brainstorming and listening.” Anne finds achievable ways for congregations to connect to non-church folks; integrating hospitality and witnessing. She speaks with warmth of Brechin United’s reputation in Nanaimo “People get to know us because we are out doing things…” – and here is the invitation her Companion leadership offers to all of us – “… and there is always something to do.”

Friends, I am delighted to present the 2020/2021 Companion of the Centre of Christian Studies: diaconal minister Anne Manikel.