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.
Martha Shaw - Music Director
Martha grew up in a full house as the third daughter of five girls. Her father was a Baptist Minister who has retired several times. Martha was blessed with a musical Mother who taught piano. Learning to play was a given at home and a gift she took for granted for most of her youth.
Martha graduated from Atlantic Baptist College. Music has always played an important role, from accompanying worship teams, and playing for several churches, to teaching piano for over 30 years.
Martha has chaired and served on Committees in her Church. She has also served as President of the Mariposa Skating Club, Town Councillor for Riverview and currently the President of the Moncton Music Teacher’s Association.
Spending time with family is Martha’s favourite past time. She also enjoys knitting, traveling, gardening, and reading.