Categories: Wednesday ripples 6 Comments

Finding a place for Awe

If you tell someone you just met that you are a church minister, they are going to naturally make some assumptions. After all, it is not exactly high on the list of potential professions that your school counselor puts in front of you, if it is on the list at all. And so, most folks assume that I must have grown up in a church, had religious parents, or at least had owned a Bible as a child. In my case though, the reality is none of the above!

I believe all of us have many moments where God calls to us, whether we understand Her or not. It can be something dramatic, like a life changing accident or relationship, or something subtle, like an insight that comes watching the stars emerge from the soothing darkness of the sky. As a child, I was intrigued by the holiness of Creation, even if I couldn’t name what that was. There seemed to be something sacred about the pulsing of life around me; from the trees and flowers to the expressions in the eyes of those I passed on the street.

When I tried to see if church could be a place of answers to some of my questions, I’m afraid the discussions about God and Jesus I encountered were less than helpful. I ran straight into either terrible dogma that seemed to focus on the exclusion of women and non-heterosexuals, or into services that seemed so anemic that it was hard to square the transcendent feelings with the passive, dull worship and feel we were talking about the same God. I took a very extended vacation of 15 years from ever trying again! When I did find a church that could mix progressive theology with mystical awe, Canadian Memorial United, I felt in my bones like I had come home.  It was that experience that had me leave my management position in Public Relations and apply for Theological college.

It some ways, it is hard not to feel sorry for church communities, asked to hold the passionate and transcendent experience of God! It’s a tall order. But when we do achieve even a glimpse of that, how remarkable it can be. When we can hold each other in a state of awe or vulnerability or mystery, we can be of service to each other in a way that no other community can. It’s a precious and rare gift.

As we move towards the end of the summer, let’s ask ourselves where our passion and awe live these days. How might we live into that and share it with those around us? For in a troubled world, those places of passion and awe can be our spiritual food. They can be the fire that brings us home to what truly matters.


Rev Rhian Walker is our most recent addition to the staff team and is joining us as the Minister of Young Adults and Outreach. She will lead worship on Sunday September 23 and is in the office as of August 15th. You can reach her at

Rhian Walker

Rhian Walker is the Minister of Young Adults and Outreach and brings a love for nurturing the spiritual development of those around her. She is passionate about new expressions of church and believes in the power of spiritual practice and community to transform the suffering in our communities and our world. She has a Masters of Public and Pastoral Leadership from the Vancouver School of Theology, an MA in Philosophy, Religion and Literature from Sussex University and a BA in Philosophy and Creative Writing from UVic. The concept of the open table is at the heart of what she feels is transformative about the United Church along with its commitment to true inclusion. She previously served at the lead minister at the Heartwood Community Café, an LGBTQ social enterprise run by Trinity United, Minister of Outreach and Formation at Lynn Valley United in North Vancouver, and as the Conference Minister for LeaderShift, a professional development program that focuses on the inner and outer skills for leading in the United Church. She is an amateur singer and poet, an average gardener, and is truly, shockingly bad at camping despite growing up on the West Coast. She is married to Brandon Walker and has two young children.

Comments (6)

  1. Thank-you for your faith story, Rhian. I am glad you are here with us at StAW.

    1. Thank you Shirley! I am so glad to be here too!

  2. When I first heard you speak and you told us to come in and lay our burdens down, I was moved to tears. I wasn’t alone. Thank you and welcome. I think you are a wonderful addition to St. Andrews-Wesley and I hope that you will find it to be a great fit for you.

    1. Thank you so much Patti. I know there are so many moments in our lives where we just carry the burdens and don’t give ourselves permission to lay them down, and for me my great hope is that our faith community can be that place. I am very happy to be hear and looking forward to getting to know everyone. And if you ever want to go for coffee, come see me!

  3. This is a beautiful reflection, Rhian. How very fortunate the United Church is and spiritual communities are that you felt the tug and followed your passion, a blessing that now lands with St. Andrew’s Wesley. In the ongoing work of hosting the Transcendent in our ordinary lives, may we all come alive. Thank you, and Welcome!

    1. thank you Dan! I am so happy to be here with this amazing team and congregation.

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