Volunteering is a way of giving back

Wendy Thornton smiles in her church.
Wendy Thornton at her home parish of Nativity, Malvern.
 on June 1, 2017
Michael Hudson

Wendy Thornton has volunteered for the diocese and in her home parish of Nativity, Malvern for many years. She was born and raised in Barbados.

I am currently a director of finance and administration at a non-profit organization. I do a split function of finance and human resources, which I enjoy, as I get to work with the two disciplines that appeal to me. I was previously a director and board chair at a women’s shelter. It was a transformative time for me, as I saw first-hand the disturbing effects of abuse, and the sadness and loneliness of persons having to leave their homes. I observed being here the first December how difficult this was as I saw the families, especially the children, not being in their own homes at Christmas. As difficult as this experience was, I did a term of six years. I truly learned so much about life, and I felt at the end of that term that I was able to make a positive difference, not only to my own life and the things we take for granted, but to the lives of women at the shelter.

I am a member of the women’s ministry at the Church of the Nativity, where I have been worshipping for the past 30 years. I love to travel, and make the opportunity to do that often. I love to sing. One of my joys is singing the old familiar hymns that bring back so many memories of my youth, and I look forward to our monthly praise and worship service. Working with youth is another thing I look forward to, as you can learn so much from them. I have had many opportunities to travel with the youth group on our annual trips to the U.S., to visit different congregations and share our ministry with them, and be a part of theirs.

As a lay reader, I take the time to prepare the Prayers of the People before Sunday morning. As I prepare, I review the readings for the day and ask God to give me the guidance to pray for the needs of congregation and the current needs of the world. As an intercessory, I read the epistle and assist with Communion. Lay anointing is done with the permission of the area bishop. In this ministry, you are licensed and may minister to the sick through prayer and sacramental anointing with consecrated oil. This is a vital prayer ministry and is done during the Eucharist. As a lay anointer, the best part of my role is to be able to interact with and pray for people who have specific challenges or needs, to see the results of answered prayer and to receive positive feedback from the congregation.

Currently, I am working on my training as a parish selection committee coach. It is fulfilling to work in your home parish, but very rewarding and insightful to work in others’ parishes, as we all do worship a little differently and uniquely. The roles assigned to the parish selection coach include working with a congregation or elected group and the area bishop to find an incumbent for a parish. Having been the chairperson of a selection committee three years ago, I appreciate the discernment that goes into the process to articulate the needs of a parish, to assist in preparing the parish profile and the interview process.

Volunteering for me came very easily when I came to Canada, as it has been something I had done before, and it is a way to meet people and form bonds. Volunteering is a way of giving back your time and talents for the many abundances that are given to us. I started volunteering in Canada as a treasurer at the Church of the Nativity many years ago. After that, I continued my ministry as a rector’s warden, a leader in the youth group, youth mentor and a representative on the Synod nominations committee.

My spiritual journey started in Barbados. As a young girl, I observed the lives of my mother and my grandmother. I watched their continued participation in the organizations within the church. As I followed them to the numerous services and meetings, I acquired a liking for the music, the bible readings and the spiritual aspect. As I entered my teenage years, I noticed the peace and serenity in their lives from serving God, and it became my mission to follow their example, seeing their faith in the Lord as stepping stones towards my future. While at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Barbados, where I spent my formative years, I was involved with Sunday school and many youth activities. The one I will always be grateful for is the Church Girls’ Brigade, which helped me to develop social skills, confidence, discipline and leadership skills, to explore the bible and be part of a social network including dancing and traveling, which I still love to do today.

Being a Christian enables me to meet the daily challenges and stresses of life and work. I rely on prayer and meditation to see myself through the challenges. In the busyness of life and the social pressures that you face, you always know your go-to place. Working in the financial sector, the demands are many and the workload is great, especially in this environment that we live in, but I always know that I can reach out to God in prayer, while also relying on my relatives and church family for the support that I need. One of the advantages to being a part of a Christian fellowship is the mentors you meet along the way, the encouragement and the resources you acquire for growth, spiritual and otherwise, the friendships and the social activity. For the support I need, my trust in God gives me the confidence and strength to deal with personal issues that I may encounter in the workplace any given day.

Five years from now, with God’s help, I intend to be retired from the work environment and continuing to do God’s work either in Canada or Barbados.

My favorite passage of scripture is Proverbs 3:6, which states, “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” I need to call on this scripture regularly. This passage was given to me by my grandmother as I left Barbados many years ago to immigrate to Canada, and sometimes I can still hear her voice repeating this to me. My favorite hymn is “He Leadeth Me,” because I know that whatever situation occurs, Gods hand will be leading me.


Keep on reading

Skip to content