New United Church Minister: Community is key for Rev. Cathy Underhill


Photo supplied.
Reverend Cathy Underhill

On July 1, the community gains a new, very active member in the person of Cathy Underhill.

More correctly, the Reverend Cathy Underhill, commissioned in May as a United Church diaconal minister, will be entering into a one year contractual agreement with the local United Church known as Harmony Pastoral Charge that includes the congregations of Millbrook-Cavan and Bailieboro-Springville, and she can barely contain her excitement.  Cathy has worked hard to get here.

In fact you could describe Cathy in 3D:  those three Ds are dedication, desire and determination.

Cathy has always felt at home in the church, hitting just one temporary roadblock at age 8 when she announced to her unimpressed family that she intended to become a nun.  Undeterred by the lack of enthusiasm for her plan, Cathy turned up at worship services wherever the doors were open or where neighbours and friends went.

“I belonged in all those church homes,” she says, “the people were special.”

That’s the bottom line with Cathy.  People are special.

Originally from Toronto, Cathy and her husband Dave moved to Peterborough in 1989.  Her career background is in banking and as manager of a field branch for a major polling firm.  She is also a Master Gardener and former designer for White Rose Nurseries, and her skill is in plain view in her beautiful back garden where spectacular wisteria vines are in full bloom along with climbing roses, and flourishing beds of perennials and vegetables.

Cathy comes to the community as the Rev. Lynda Hodgins retires.  She is not unfamiliar with the territory; Cathy’s mother was a resident of Centennial Place for seven years, and she has maintained her connection there.   Pastoral care comes naturally to Cathy.  She has served as the chaplain at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre and continues as clergy-on-call.

In 2008, Cathy went to the minister at the church she had been involved with since 2001, and asked to be considered for the role of Sunday School leader.  In the seven years that followed, her talent for growing things and engaging people of all ages resulted in a flourishing Sunday School and new interest from young families.  Through this leadership, Cathy recognized a call to full ministry and began her rigorous and intense six years of study at the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg.

Training as a diaconal minister involved, Cathy says, a ton of travel and total commitment.  One of 14 students embarking on the journey in 2013, she is just the third to graduate.  Diaconal ministers in the United Church of Canada are members of the order of ministry who are commissioned to a ministry of education, service, and pastoral care, with a license to administer the sacraments.  The Greek word ‘diakonia’ means ‘service among others’.

Cathy begins her ministry here with a month of getting to know the people she has come to serve through friendly visiting and pastoral care.  She is also looking forward to getting to know the community as a whole because, in Cathy’s words, “I will be serving the community at large, not just those within the church, because we are called to love God and love our neighbour.  That’s my theology.”

By Celia Hunter

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