OLDS — The new minister for the Olds United Church and Knox United Church in Didsbury wants to reach out more to the community.
“I would like to see us get more involved,” Rev. Lynn McKinnon said during an interview with the Albertan. “We have little connections into the community, but I’d like to see us get more involved.”
Originally from Cape Breton, N.S., McKinnon, 59, took on the position in July, replacing Rev. Tammy Allan, who is now in Innisfail.
McKinnon said the church has made some strides in its effort to reach out to the community.
For example, for several weeks now, they’ve been running an open house and coffee session every Wednesday afternoon.
"People just come, sit. I always bake something and we sit around and there’s no church business going on. And it’s not just for church people, (it’s for) anybody who wanted to drop in and say ‘hello,’ McKinnon said.
“(It’s) just an hour or two or three where we just sort of sit around and get to know each other and what’s going on and just having that sense of community.”
McKinnon said initiatives undertaken earlier like sharing the United Church with the Olds & District Hospice, The Lending Shelf and the Brownies are some examples of reaching out.
But she’d like to take that process further.
One idea is to reach out to Olds College students, especially during potentially stressful periods like exam time.
“Maybe we want to do a muffin ministry with the students or something,” she said.
She wondered if there are other ways the church could help – perhaps with current issues like food insecurity or affordable housing.
McKinnon admitted she didn’t have all the answers for those two issues but said the church could perhaps be a partner in some way with other organizations trying to tackle them.
“I’m trying to hit the ground running; doing church and being church, not just going to church,” she said.
McKinnon said she first felt a call to the ministry in her teens “but I tell people I had ‘call waiting,’” she said. “I just kept putting it on hold and doing other things.
“I was a school music teacher for 18 years and church organist; grew up in the church and that kind of thing.”
Eventually she found out about – and enrolled in – a summer distance program offered by the Atlantic School of Theology.
Students were placed with a church during the summer months and then went on campus for three two-week courses. For the remainder of the year, courses were offered online.
After she graduated, McKinnon was initially placed in Prince Edward Island and later to serve three churches in Cape Breton, N.S.
She moved west to Crossfield with her daughter and youngest son to be near her oldest son, a police officer with the Tsuut'ina Nation who lives in Diamond Valley.
“My husband died right after I was ordained, so the rest of us came out here to join up with my oldest,” McKinnon said.
“And then the other two just went back East this year," she added with a laugh, “so we’re still spread out all over the country.”