Nurturing souls

Job/family balance means working ‘with intention’

Rev. Michelle Slater is in the business of helping people ‘nurture their relationship with their deepest selves’ at Oak Bay United Church.

Rev. Michelle Slater is in the business of helping people ‘nurture their relationship with their deepest selves’ at Oak Bay United Church.

Church can be big business, but for one Oak Bay leader, business of the soul is biggest.

“I define my business as helping people nurture their relationship with their deepest selves and the beauty and pain of the world and God, the mystery, divine, something more we can’t explain but many of us want to connect to. To give strength and hope and meaning,” says Rev. Michelle Slater, Minister of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care at Oak Bay United Church. “I can do that best in a community with other people.”

The challenge and strength of being a woman in the role “are two sides of the same coin,” she says, noting some may not offer authority to a woman as readily as a man.

“However, people aren’t looking so much anymore for their leader to be in charge, an authoritarian. They’re looking for someone who can accompany them in their joys and sorrows,” she says.

“When I share my own personal stories of struggle and confusion – it’s harder for men in our culture to show that vulnerability, there is a sense it detracts from their authority – it gives me a different sense of authority. … I’m the same, not above.”

Slater has been an integral part of the Oak Bay United community since August 2013, where they come together for support and comfort or to rejoice and celebrate and create connections when heart strings are tugged. For example, when images emerged of a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, people were shocked and dismayed at what happened to little Alan Kurdi and his family as they tried to flee Syria. They came together and gathered money, goods and shareable skills to support a family fleeing to Canada.

“When we gathered together and said to the wider community ‘How can we help?’ people responded in an amazing way,” she says. “None of us could do that alone. Together we can be so much more.”

A family from Syria arrived over a month ago, settled into a home and are working on building lives here.

That spells success in Slater’s business, a 24/7 job.

“This is a job that can take over if you don’t do it with intention,” she says. As part of her work-life balance, her Lenten practice this year is to forgo work emails, when not at work.

“That’s a very hard discipline for me,” she says.

It’s a boundary she hopes goes beyond the Easter season as she knows people can reach her in emergent situations, whether they be joy or sorrow. Her work days range from administration and meetings to one-on-one and group gatherings, Bible studies and films. Babies are born and people fall ill.

“Every day is different and I never know what I will encounter or receive. I’m in control of my own schedule and time largely,” she says. “It can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in 30 seconds.”

 

Just Posted

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read