Thoughtful Minister comes to region
The United Church congregations of Ayer’s Cliff, Georgeville and Magog have had a new Minister since the summer. Reverend Lee Ann Hogle replaced Reverend Takouhi Demerdjiian-Petro in mid-July and now lives in Ayer’s Cliff, close to her three
“I grew up in Montreal, but then moved to the Racine and Richmond areas where I raised a family,” said Reverend Hogle in an interview with the Stanstead Journal. “I was a lay worship leader before going back to school in 2008 to become a minister,” explained the Reverend who recently received her Master of Divinity degree from the Atlantic School of Theology, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “It was a ministry-based program so I got to test the waters almost immediately and find out right away if it was meant for me. Going back to school as a mature learner, it was helpful to know I was on the right path.”
Explaining what led her to join the ministry, Rev. Hogle commented: “As we get older, our thoughts change. We begin to search for what gives meaning to our lives. It’s only in the doing that we learn about ourselves.” She continued: “I was involved with the church when I was younger and a lay worship course showed me what ministry was. I’d spent a good amount of time looking at spiritual issues; becoming a minister coincided with my personal interests.”
As we spoke, it became clear that Rev. Hogle has a deep concern for our society, but remains hopeful. “I believe there’s a spiritual thirst in our world that is addressed when we attend church. We’re all looking for meaning and value in our lives. We need to know ourselves better and identify the things that will nurture ourselves. When we’re good to ourselves, we’re good to others, and that creates a ripple effect.”
“I worry that society is really heading off in the wrong direction; you can see the shortsightedness when we look at what’s happening to the environment. It’s a sign that we’ve lost touch with our humanity. We’re treated as consumers all our lives.”
Holding a church congregation together in the year 2013 is not an easy task, as this newly ordained minister is aware. “Not regu- lar church attendees, but others don’t know what resources are available to them when something goes wrong. Spiritual aspects can be a resource in difficult times.” She continued: “Many make assumptions of what ‘church’ is, the media brings up scars, but a church group is simply human. I find, when working with a group, you must promise to be good to each other, and find ways to make the group healthier, spiritually more alive.”
“I’m delighted to be with this vibrant church community,” said the Reverend, mentioning some of the congregation’s activities, such as the community dinners, Christmas baskets with the schoolchildren, the Prayer Shawl initiative and the annual Living Nativity Scene, in Georgeville, organized by retired Reverends Deane and Doreen Moffat. “My personal challenge is getting to know the folks of the congregation, their individual concerns and priorities, and find those interests that we can pursue together. It’s a time of discovery.”
Reverend Hogle is also discovering a new area, now that she has moved to Ayer’s Cliff, attending the Ayer’s Cliff Fair for the first time last August. “It’s a bustling community in Ayer’s Cliff, and there’s a lot going on in Magog and Georgeville. It was important for me to move to this area; it’s important to build community support for one another. I wanted to be close to that.”
At the end of the interview, which was more of a conversation with a person who is very passionate about her ministry, Reverend Hogle mentioned her goals. “Nurturing spiritual practices and learning to ‘still’ oneself. Church is where people can reserve time from their busy lives, and in that stillness they can hear that inner voice, become more comfortable with their inner lives and identify those things that make our hearts sing. When we do that, we can grow a lovely garden together!”
The Covenanting Service for Reverend Lee Ann Hogle is taking place this Sunday, November 3rd, 3:00 pm, at St’ Paul’s United Church, in Magog. Patricia Lisson will be the guest preacher. Refreshments will follow the service and everyone is welcome.
Reverend Lee Ann Hogle, seen here in Magog, is the new United Church Minister of Ayer’s Cliff, Georgeville and Magog.