When Pastor Norine Gullons of the South Dundas Lutheran Community Church got a call from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arnprior, she says it was a tough decision, but the timing seemed right for a change.
South Dundas Lutheran Community Church here has just undergone an amalgamation of the congregations of St. Paul’s in Morrisburg and St. Peter’s in Williamsburg, and Pastor Gullons says, “things are good and it’s a good time to go. We’ve gotten through the amalgamation, and we are now one congregation.”
“There is more to be done to move forward, and I’ve guided the congregation this far. It’s now time for someone else to step in and guide them the rest of the way.”
Rev. Gullons says it is hard to believe she has been here for nine years. “It feels like I haven’t been here at all, but when I look back, I’ve actually been here a long time.”
“It is hard to leave the people. I’ve made some really good friends. This congregation has a lot of good people and people in South Dundas are great people.”
The ministry is Rev. Gullons’ second career, and the two-point parish of St. Peter’s Williamsburg and St. Paul’s in Morrisburg was her first call. She came to South Dundas from Kingston following her graduation from the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and her ordination in June 2005.
Her arrival coincided with the realignment of the Lutheran Churches in South Dundas, and she took over the newly-formed parish of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s. Prior to her arrival St. Peter’s was aligned with St. Luke’s in Dunbar and St. Paul’s with St. John’s in Riverside Heights.
“For your second call, you are thinking about your parish, and also about yourself. This is my second call, so I may very well be there [Arnprior] until I retire. We have no idea what is going to happen in life, and I don’t move easily,” she said from the manse in Williamsburg where, surrounded by boxes and cleaning supplies, she was very much in the midst of packing and down-sizing from the four-bedroom manse to a two-bedroom condo. “I’ve been tapped (an invite from another church) seven different times in my nine years here, but I’ve never budged until now.”
The move to Arnprior takes Pastor Gullons, who was born in Renfrew, back to her hometown area.
Rev. Gullons says the biggest change since she came to South Dundas is the amalgamation of the Williamsburg and Morrisburg parishes into the South Dundas Lutheran Community Church. “We really had to have patience with the process, and we had to keep pushing forward. I sat on the partnership committee, but it was the congregation’s doing.”
During her nine years, Rev. Gullons performed 50 baptisms and had three sets of confirmation classes.
She was very involved with the Dundas County Food Bank and in particular the New Born Necessities Program. She served on the Spiritual Advisory Board for Winchester Hospital.
She and Rev. Craig Bowers of the Anglican Church in Morrisburg were co-organizers of the Ash Wednesday Faith Days for local youth, and she has been a strong supporter of the Williamsburg scouts and guides programs, the South Dundas Dog Park and the ecumenical Love South Dundas event.
She is clearly proud of the Junior Youth Club at the church and the Sunday School program. “One of the mandates I am leaving the congregation with is to keep these two programs strong. I am really concerned that we instill a faith life in children and youth. It is not so much to keep them in church but to instill in them the values and faith that were instilled in us.”
Pastor Gullons is delighted in the growth of the active congregation that has occurred over the last nine years, with 70 worshippers now in attendance on a regular basis.
She gave her final sermon on Sunday, June 29, to just under 150 worshippers. “It was unbelieveable,” shes says of the memories of that day that she will carry with her. “I did five baptisms and two confirmations. I blessed the delegates going to Synod, and the congregation had a farewell for me following the service. My kids (youth group) helped give communion, and all the Sunday School children came forward for homily.”
“I think I am leaving them in good shape. I think I’ve brought them to a good place. The amalgamation has brought them into the future…and now they just have to move forward. This new congregation can grow even larger than it is now, but they have to allow it to happen. They have to take the chance and keep inviting the people.”
Rev. Gullons left for her new call on Monday, July 7. She leaves behind a host of friends and a strong church but points out with her warm laugh, “Arnprior isn’t that far away”.