Next Saturday Erinn will take the second-last step on her journey towards ordination. A group of people, including a contingent from The Dale, will gather in a room, hear her statement of faith, ask questions, and then vote on whether she should be ordained. I will be there, and my vote will be a resounding “oh my goodness, YES!”
Erinn has already been the Pastor of The Dale for many years, but this ordination process is a way to formalize her role within the CBOQ (the Baptist association to which The Dale belongs), and a chance for The Dale community to affirm her call to ministry in our midst.
It is hard to summarize the ways in which Erinn is so suited to her role as Pastor. Rather than try to create a list of her character attributes, I’ll tell a few stories.
The first time I met Erinn, The Dale was still called Parkdale Neighbourhood Church, and the community was in the midst of the transition from being housed to being a a church without its own walls. I knew next to nothing about the community or the immensity of the challenge that Erinn was courageously facing. But I knew, from the first 5 minutes of our meeting, that she loved that community, and that she was deeply committed to the call that God had placed on her heart to lead her folks through this difficult transition, and beyond.
Fast forward a couple of years, and The Dale had settled into its new name and its new weekly rhythm of migration around the Parkdale neighbourhood. We were running our Monday drop-in at Bonar Parkdale Presbyterian, and a friend entered, very much under the influence. This friend was in a huge amount of distress, and Erinn was working hard to provide some physical and emotional stability. Despite her efforts, our friend stumbled and fell to the floor, bringing Erinn along. Rather than getting up and dusting herself off, Erinn stayed on the ground and listened as incredible amounts of pain of poured out of our friend’s soul.
Fast forward another couple of years, and The Dale had begun a new rhythm of doing street outreach with a counselor from the Parkdale Community Health Center. Erinn stopped to talk with a friend outside St. Francis Table. This friend is quite elderly, lonely and hard of hearing. Erinn patiently listened to the long and rambling stories that this friend was in the mood to share. When I made some subtle attempts to move our team along, this friend didn’t hear me and just kept talking. Erinn showed zero sign of frustration, but just kept listening…and listening…and listening. She honoured our friend by hearing him out.
Every Sunday at The Dale, Erinn shares insights from God’s Word in ways that are relatable, challenging and encouraging. She does not shy away from speaking truth boldly, and she roots her exhortations in deep humility.
Erinn loves The Dale with a deep, courageous and committed love. She meets people where they are at, even if that place is the floor. She listens. She speaks with the gentleness of wisdom. Erinn is our Pastor, and I consider it an honour to stand with her next week and affirm her call.