A Bold New Vision!
When Visions United began to think about how we could serve a new generation of spiritual seekers and new Christians, we tore down all the existing ideas of what a church had to be and opened up what church could become. We choose to be the church everywhere we can, to make a positive change in the life and health of our planet and all who share it.
We are new and we chose to be in North Moncton because it is a fast growing area of the city – with a diverse population that had no United Church presence. We wanted to change that. As a community we seek to be connected to the evolving understanding of the Spirit of God. This opens us to creative expressions of Spirituality and challenges us to explore life’s questions in ways that make sense in post-modern Christianity. We seek to be a diverse, open and innovative community finding meaning and purpose together.
So whether you are a spiritual seeker, a new Christian, or looking for a community to journey with, we invite you to gather with us in the spirit.
Our United Vision
- We reach out to families, strengthening and supporting them so that they will thrive in our community.
- We embrace our seniors. We value their wisdom.
- We respect youth and young adults as equal partners in our congregation. Through learning exchanges between the younger and older people in our congregation and community we are building a multi-generational community.
- We develop our faith and address our present and future spiritual needs through education, bible study, small discussion groups, and spirit-renewing retreats. This deepening of faith will strengthen our connection with God and each other.
- We have a leadership and music ministry team to support church activities.
- We offer a variety of programs, activities, types of music, and Spirit Gatherings to allow the busy multicultural people of the greater Moncton area to get the most from their spiritual experience.
A New Era of Christianity
Throughout history, every five hundred years or so, Christianity and other religions have gone through major changes. Five hundred years ago it was the Great Reformation. According to theologians, we are now well into the next great upheaval known as the Great Emergence.
This movement recognizes that Christianity needs to change with the times, encourage an open discussion of spiritual beliefs, and include and draw upon the gifts and talents of its members to serve in the church. Participants are looking for a more open faith that allows for questioning, spiritual inquiry and personalized beliefs. Many people, especially the younger generations, are disillusioned with the organized and institutional church. This has caused many to pull away from the traditional church, which is not replacing its older members with younger generations. The new generations want to lead a spiritual life, but are looking for a church experience that looks at Christianity in a new light, to celebrate Christ in a new way, and to develop a new form of community.
At Visions United, we embrace and champion this new era of Christianity and have made changes to include many elements of this emerging Christianity in our weekly Spirit Gatherings.
To find out more about the Great Emergence watch one of the following videos with Phyllis Tickle, one of the foremost experts on the emerging Christian church:
- watch this short video ; or
- watch this longer video of Phyllis Tickle addressing the alumni of the Claremont School of Theology
“…Emergence Christianity is a new tributary in the river of Christianity; the new expression of what the faith is.”
— Phyllis Tickle
Rev Dr Shawn Redden - Ministry Leader
The eldest daughter in a family of three siblings, Shawn Redden is thankful for her rural upbringing on a beef and strawberry farm in Upper Stewiacke, N.S. It is here her family worked together and played together. It is also where she recalls her first memories of questioning God and the shaping of her theology.
“I was about five and I asked my dad, ‘What is God?’. He told me that God was like the wind; that I couldn’t see wind but I could see the trees moving,” Shawn explains. “It was never about an old man in the sky but more in terms of energy in the universe. I developed a real curiosity about God.”
Questions like that aren’t unusual coming from Shawn. She admits to having a restless soul, a questioning spirit. She is a seeker of answers, forever wrestling with personal and professional questions that push her in uncomfortable and challenging directions. It’s taken a lot of years, but she’s ok with that.
The path from sitting at Sunday service to leading the Visions United congregation is full of unexpected twist and turns, questions, uncertainty and discerning.
Shawn admits that as a young girl she attended church “enough to make mom happy.” Her first inkling that ministry might be in her future came as she sat in a pew at the age of 15 listening to her minister. “I had this experience where I could see myself up there,” she explains. “It made me shiver but I brushed it aside.”
Instead Shawn was intent on studying journalism at Carleton University. There, friends encouraged Shawn to attend church and she was struck by the number of classmates and professors who shared the pews each Sunday. She eventually got involved in a young adults group. Over time and with encouragement, she began a period of discernment thinking about ministry but resisted. “The study of theology scared me,” she confides.
She would receive her B.A., return home and spend another year thinking before finally enrolling at Atlantic School of Theology. “I thought I had to be certain,” she recalls. “Once I embraced that spiritual life and faith is not about certainty but rather about working through the questions, I moved forward.”
Shawn was ordained to the United Church of Canada in May 1992. She served pastoral charges in Barrington and New Glasgow, NS; St. Paul’s United in Riverview, NB and St. Paul’s United in Sussex before seeking a new challenge with Visions United in 2016.
She learned early in her career the real need for relationships and relationship building. “During my internship, I was starting to feel like I’d hit my stride, and then one of the members commented that they never wanted a woman in the pulpit,” she recalls. “I’ve come to realize that there is a real messiness to relationships, and when you work to build communities, you have to seek to understand how to hold relationships together with all our quirks and gifts.”
She brings many gifts to her role as minister, including leadership, programming and facilitation skills, a commitment to life-long learning and a genuine desire to accompany people of all ages on their spiritual journey.
While every congregation is different, aspiring to different things, Shawn brings the best of teaching and preaching, discerning and learning to her role; offering insightful, inclusive spiritual nurture and faith formation to those around her. She also brings a healthy helping of challenge in order to encourage growth and potential leadership in others.
“For me success is bringing congregations to a place where I’m not needed. Working myself out of a job! Self-sufficiency is the litmus test,” she affirms.
Daphna Pearson - Musical Director
When is the last time you had a good breath of fresh air? Seriously!
Every week at Visions United, I feel recharged with this new “air” and it is so exciting that you want more. What? More of church? Learning more about God? Unheard of!
I grew up in Hillsborough as a Baptist girl. Took music at Acadia University, which led to music positions at many churches, and piano students galore. We have three grown children and a son-in-law ,all living out of province, so my husband John and I recently downsized to condo living.
Music is my love. God gave me this gift in music and I play organ, flute, violin, horns and enjoy singing/choir, but the piano is my main instrument. He speaks to me through my music. The excitement comes when I do my job with God’s guidance in preparations for each Spirit Gathering. Then we watch God working in all our lives as He adds the finishing touches needed.
Visions United has such a TEAM and such strong faith. I want what they have – it’s contagious!
I thank God for this church and allowing me to be a part of the Visions United team – working as Music Director, with a wonderfully gifted minister, Rev. Shawn Redden we have one goal: to serve God.