Lifelong Thorold resident Nella Dekker was elected to city council for her first term last fall.
“I think that the previous council did a great job and really worked well together,” she said. “It's important to have both a man’s and a woman's perspective, as we see things differently sometimes and that’s a good thing. The city has some strong women that provide a wealth of information and help to council and I am thankful to them."
With respect to the surge of new residents, “I am excited that our city is growing and that people are migrating to Thorold," Dekker stated. "I hope that this entices new businesses and services. I am very passionate about Thorold. As for new growth, we need to make sure people know what Thorold has to offer and sell it—our downtown, tourism, heritage recreation, and festivals, so being advocates and getting the word out” are critical to its future success, she believes.
Dekker said she chose to serve on the tourism committee “Because I have a passion for wanting to see Thorold develop. We have more than 50 heritage sites, we have great trails along the canal and want people to come and see our unique shops and restaurants. We have an amazing team of people and I know good things will come.”
The Rev. Canon Katherine Morgan, who’s celebrating her two-year anniversary of being appointed as rector of St John’s Anglican Church this month, said she “began to have a sense of God calling me to the ministry when I was in my teens, which, given how painfully shy I was at the time, made me wonder what God was thinking! There was a desire to share the love of God that I had been wrapped in as a child, to help others feel that same love and acceptance. To be a part of and nurturing a community of people who were trying to make a real difference in the world around them, and to help folks see we all had something to offer and share to make that happen. To walk with people during some of those life-altering moments and to be able to remind them that God was weeping or celebrating with them.”
Rev. Morgan said that while “questioning this direction for my life,” she was encouraged by her family and supported by “people at the church where I grew up and wonderful mentors along the way who helped me in this discernment; all of which made such a difference as I studied for my undergraduate degree (Philosophy) and then my Master of Divinity, while at the same time, undergoing a process of discernment and examination with the Diocese of Niagara.
“It has been more than I could have ever asked or imagined. The privilege of serving in the churches and communities, of the people I have met, and the things they have taught me about faithfulness and the courage and strength to follow where God is leading. It has been an incredible journey – each day is its own unique challenge and opportunity – and I can’t wait to see how the Spirit will move us next.”
Morgan’s previous position was as rector of a two-point parish in Cayuga and Hagersville—“Wonderful parishes that were a real presence and a part of the fabric of their communities" in her opinion. "Part of what drew me to St John’s is the same sense of community, both within the congregation and about how the congregation responds to the needs around it.
“It is a real privilege to walk with people through all the twists and turns, the joys and sorrows that life offers. Our church has been part of this community for more than 180 years. St John’s is a parish that takes care of and nurtures its own, while looking outward, building relationships to engage the needs of the wider neighbourhood. It is a delight to work with people who passionately support these ministries with such faithfulness, dedication and joy.”
Asked to describe her view of Thorold, Morgan called it “A wonderful city, with many having deep family roots in the community, but it is also a place where folks feel drawn to put down new roots. People feel very strongly about this community, seeing the dedication and commitment of so many to run sports programs, volunteers giving of their time for the many service clubs and organizations, offering themselves to get involved in local government as well as the many boards and committees to make Thorold a great place to live and work.”
With respect to the challenges faced by ministers of small towns, including inspiring hope and faith in today's troubled society, Morgan said that is a question “We all wrestle with, no matter the size of the parish or the community around it. We have churches that are aging and not attracting new members, we have families with schedules so full of activities and extended work hours that time to be a part of a church is almost non-existent. We worry about not having the resources – of people and money – to meet the mission that God has placed before us. We see needs and gaps in our communities that seem more that we can meet or fill. Our employment patterns are changing and shifting and the idea that people will retire from a company they worked at for 30 or more years is disappearing. There is a lot of change happening in our society and at a rapid pace.
“But in all of this,” she replied, “we can turn to faith and our traditions. The bible is full of stories of crisis and turmoil, fear and uncertainty, conflict and change, of betrayal and destruction, illness and death. But it is also filled with stories of hope and courage, of joy and love, of good news and faithfulness. The bible reminds us, over and over again, that God is with us. It reminds us of the many ways through all of history how God has been present, God has acted, and God has responded. And by reading these stories again and again, we are reminded of how God continues to be present with us today and continues to speak to us in these words.
“I think the most important message I can preach to bring hope and encouragement – is the reminder that we are not alone. God’s Spirit lives inside of each of us, guiding, encouraging and nudging us forward. We are part of a church family here at St John’s, and we do not walk alone. We have friends who walk with us; who laugh with us, cry with us, pray together and for each other, and who can help carry each other when the way is rough. And what we can do as individuals is nothing compared to what we can accomplish together. We are also part of a larger family of Christian churches in Thorold, who are looking for ways we can work together to reflect the love, peace, strength and courage that God offers to all who believe.”
See Part 2 of Thorold's Leading Ladies in tomorrow's ThoroldNews