Announcing the 2024 Companion of the Centre – Marlene Britton
The Centre for Christian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2024 recipient of the Companion of the Centre award will be Marlene Britton. Marlene will be presented with the Companion of the Centre award at CCS’s Annual Service of Celebration on April 14, 2024 in Winnipeg.
Marlene is a UCC Diaconal Minister, currently serving as Director of Policies & Programs for Ministry Personnel within The United Church of Canada.
Marlene discerned a call to Diaconal Ministry as a young person in Jamaica. After graduating from the University of the West Indies with a degree in Geology and a degree in Theology, she was ordained as a Diaconal Minister by the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. She has served the Methodist Church in the Caribbean & the Americas in Belize and in Barbados. She has also been a military chaplain and a welfare officer with the Barbados Defense Force.
Through the admissions process, Marlene became the first Black person recognized as a Diaconal Minister within The United Church of Canada. She has served congregations in rural Alberta and in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Since 2019 she has been working in the Office of Vocation of the UCC General Council, first as an Office of Vocation Minister, then Program Coordinator for Admission and Pastoral Relations, and now as Team Lead for Policy and Programs. One of Marlene’s nominators for the Companion award noted her commitment to Adult Education. Another mentioned her “remarkable ability to see potential and draw out the best in people that others might overlook, truly empowering the leadership of others in a deeply diaconal style.”
Marlene contributes to the work of diakonia through her leadership and involvement in DUCC and DOTAC. In recent years she has helped these groups have conversation about racism and its impact on people within and beyond the church. Her leadership has been described as “care-filled, authoritative, and invitational.”
In a 2022 Broadview article, Marlene described her experience changing contexts. “Coming into The United Church of Canada, and the country of Canada, as a woman in her 40s meant that I was already fully formed in a Black cultural context. Having to move into a culture that expected me to operate as a second-class citizen was significantly challenging. I have not succeeded in doing that. I haven’t been able to walk with my head bowed or shrink into a space.”
Says one of her nominators: “I thank God that Marlene was called to become a United Church of Canada Diaconal Minister, and that she leads in ministry with her head unbowed.”
Though Marlene is not a graduate of the Centre for Christian Studies, she has built a relationship and supported the school, as a valued mentor, and as part of the coordinating team of our most recent program review.
Marlene has a deep love for the diaconate. She uses the skills of collaboration, consultation, community engagement and community-building with passion and compassion. She brings a lived insight in inclusion and understanding, bridging different worldviews and different lived experiences. She does this work of justice-making and equality-building with a sense of kindness and hope; pushing where pushes are required and comforting when comfort is needed.
We look forward to having Marlene as one of our honoured Companions.