INNISFAIL — Rev. Darren Liepold of the Innisfail United Church has a new ministerial mission.
The 58-year-old minister, who has served the local church since August of 2019, has been selected as the new pastoral relations minister for east-central Ontario; a vast area covering Pickering, located east of Toronto, and then 225 kilometres east to Kingston, and 257 kilometres north to Algonquin Park.
Liepold, who applied for the position, found out on May 5 that he was chosen for the new senior post. He leaves Innisfail on June 19 with his partner, and will start his new job in Ontario on July 1.
His new senior post, which will be based in Peterborough, will have him mentoring ministers, as well as assisting when they're on sick leave or any other support they require.
With about 150 churches in his new region, Liepold will be providing support to about 100 ministers, with many of them sharing responsibilities for the spiritual needs of two or three churches.
“I'm quite excited. Having lived in Ontario for 15 years, it was home. We still have family there. But also, I'll be doing a lot of workshops and things I really like to do,” said Liepold, who has been a minister for 32 years since his university days.
“You know, I'm sad to leave the folks in Innisfail but I was pleased to be asked to apply for it and actually receive the job. It's quite exciting.
“It's sort of a it's like an HR position. I am the minister to the ministers, and also the congregations were looking for new ministers to go through the process. I’m working with students as they have studied for the ministry.”
For at least the first full year following Liepold’s departure, the Innisfail United Church will be served by Rev. Tammy Allan, who has been the minister at the Olds United Church since January of 2013. She has also resided in Olds since her pastoral appointment.
Since 2015 Allan has also been the minister of the Sundre United Church.
And last fall when Rev. Janice Beaudry retired as minister of the Didsbury Knox United Church, Allan was called in to minister the congregation at that church.
With her appointment to the Innisfail United Church as of July 1 Allan will no longer be serving the churches in Olds, Didsbury and Sundre.
Beginning July 1, Rev. Kelly Grittner will be serving the Olds and Didsbury churches.
Meanwhile, the Sundre United Church has been assigned a pastoral oversight supervisor by the United Church of Canada's Chinook Winds Region.
Stepping into that assigned role, said Joyce Wicks, a Sundre United Church leadership team director, is Rev. Janice Beaudry.
“(Beaudry) has got all the full qualifications of an ordained minister and she then can do all the necessary things (such as) weddings, baptisms, funerals, and communion,” said Wicks, adding Beaudry “will probably be doing at least once a month regular service for us.”