Skip To Content

Interview: My faith journey has been challenging

Laura Walton, a member of Christ Church, Batteau in the episcopal area of York-Simcoe, was recently elected prolocutor of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, which comprises the dioceses of Algoma, Huron, Moosonee, Niagara, Ottawa, Ontario and Toronto. Representatives from each diocese meet every three years at Provincial Synod.

The main duties of the prolocutor are to support the Archbishop and to assist as vice-chair at the meetings of Provincial Synod and its executive council. The term lasts until the next Provincial Synod in 2018.

My hope is to support mandates that have already been established by Provincial Synod but also to work on new ones that were proposed at our Synod this past October. I think it’s critical to keep not only the executive council engaged in the work of Synod over the next three years but also those who are elected from each diocese. We have many gifts within our membership and it would be wonderful to utilize them beyond our in-person meetings. I hope we can also expand our diversity and knowledge base, to bring even more depth to the table.

I was born in Mississauga and grew up in Bramalea, now a part of Brampton. I moved to Nottawa, Ont. (near Collingwood) in 1998 to raise my two children and be closer to my parents, who moved to the area when my mother became the incumbent of a local parish. I’m the proud mom of my daughter Michaela, who is 19 and attending University of Toronto, my son Matthew, who is 17 and finishing Grade 12, and a three-year-old Siberian Husky named Shila.

Laura Walton and Jean Bédard
Laura Walton and Jean Bédard, the chancellor of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, at
their installation service during Provincial Synod. Photo by Michael Hudson

I attended University of Toronto, completing an Honours BA in criminology. I continued my studies at St. Michael’s College, U of T, and attained certificates in counselling, specializing in mediation, bereavement and addictions. I currently work with the Anglican Church of Canada on their Youth Initiatives Team and am in private practice as a family and individual counsellor.

My faith journey has been challenging. I am a cradle Anglican but attended an eclectic assortment of worship services with friends during high school. As a group, we would attend Baptist, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and other churches. In Bramalea, I had a broad range of experiences, both cultural and religious, that influenced my faith, leading me to a strong sense that God is calling the church to be as inclusive as possible rather than exclusive. I struggled when my personal beliefs did not coincide with the church’s stance on a topic. As a teen, I challenged my parish to let me be a server and reader when girls were less than welcome. I proudly watched my mother be ordained into a church that was not always quick to accept female clergy.

I currently work with youth who are struggling not only with their faith but with religious relevancy. I also see young families searching for a church home and often finding churches that aren’t very flexible or open. My faith journey is a reflection of these struggles. At times it felt not only like people didn’t care about ministry but like God had no interest, either; at those times, I have wanted to walk away from our church and God. At other times, I find hope in others who are so selfless and positive in opening their doors and walking with those who need a hand up. I see the joy of God’s love in those who are so full of grace and humility, and it is inspiring.

I enjoy working with youth and children at all levels of the church. Youth and children have a huge capacity to give from the heart, without prejudice or expectations. I’m also proud to be part of my church family at Batteau and am grateful that they are outward-looking. When they see those who struggle and are vulnerable, they do not hesitate to help. They do ministry for the sake of ministry, not because it will put bums in the pews or money on the plate. I’m proud to be part of this team, doing ministry because it’s what we are called to do.

Five years from now I would love to be working on something to do with connecting our rural and northern communities with our more prosperous ones in the cities. I think there are ways to work with youth, children and young families who are hindered socially and geographically. The church has yet to fully grasp the ministry and outreach that is possible outside not only our church walls but our city boundaries. I hope we can build on the advocacy and social justice gifts that so many Anglicans have, and to move ministry in new and exciting ways.

My favourite passage from scripture is John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” There is nothing simpler or more direct than that. It’s what we owe to each other simply as human beings. Without love being the foundation of relationships and ministries, it becomes about fulfilling our own personal needs and achievements rather than supporting and loving others. We need to raise others up rather than tear them down over differences. We are not called to judge others: we are called to be a family with all its quirks and varying experiences. Love one another as I have loved you. If that is our guide on our faith journey, then there is no problem getting over the bumps on the road.