l love history and I enjoy planning events - especially as a team member. So when asked to co-chair the 175th anniversary celebrations of the Unitarian Church of Montreal (UCM), with Elizabeth Anglin, I accepted immediately. For starters, I reread Montreal’s Unitarians, 1832 - 2000” and soon realized that I had joined the church during its sunshine years - when the pews were full and the Religious Education (RE) program flourished with 300 registrants.
When I entered the hallowed hall of the Simpson St. church 53 years ago, I was filled with awe as I experienced the eloquence of Rev. Leonard Mason while immersed in the commanding sounds of the pipe organ.
Once I learned that social justice underlined the church’s principles, I was hooked. One year later, my baby daughter Megan was dedicated and her sister Sally joined the RE program. In accepting an invitation to pour coffee after service in Channing Hall, I knew that I had found my church community. Though neither my life nor UCM’s has been free of turmoil over the last half century, I have found comfort and purpose in the church community.
As my daughter Kendra reached RE age, the Durnford family headed for UCM on Sunday mornings and I gradually added RE leadership to my volunteer work on bazaars, conferences and social events.
The sudden death of my husband, Hugh in 1979, was life-changing. As a single mom, I had to cut back on church duties as I moved from freelance writing and supply teaching to a staff position at the Gazette.
The most wrenching event in that period was the destruction of our beautiful church by fire in 1987. Gradually, I resumed active participation and joined the committee for imagining a new church building. I also headed up the Social Concerns Committee
After many years of searching and planning, our new church on de Maisonneuve was ready for a well-stocked kitchen and soon I found my home economics background at work. Meanwhile I had retired and remarried. Once again, opportunities to serve appeared. As my new husband, Gordon Lorimer, acted as UCM treasurer, I got involved with collective kitchens to promote the concept of “Cook and Share.” The Green Team which focused on sustainability at home, in the community and at church also beckoned. We became a certified Green Sanctuary in 2005.
Gordon’s illness and subsequent death in 2011 precipitated another slowdown, but soon the UCM Caring Committee and then the Garden Committee welcomed me.
UCM has been “my rock” for more than a half century, and through the “ups and downs.” I
cherished the solace and cheer I experienced with four UCM ministers. Rev. Leonard Mason,
minister emeritus led the memorial service for my husband Hugh; Rev. Charles Eddis, the
internment service that followed Rev. Ray Drennan married my daughter Megan to Larry Dionne and later conducted the memorial service for my stepson Graham. Gordon’s memorial was coordinated and led by Rev. Diane Rollert.
As the mother of three, grandmother of seven, stepmother of three and step-grandma of six, I am truly blessed - and involved. Until recently, I enjoyed a very active life: skiing, cycling, tennis, gardening and sailing - often with the “grands.” I now spend more time reading, playing bridge and enjoying concerts and plays.
While I thoroughly enjoyed working with Team 175 last year, I think that dead-heading daffodils
and making soup for shut-ins is more my speed in 2018 and beyond.