"You Can Always Be A Minister"
Author: Leon Ling Editor: Julie Ng Photo: Aaron Burden Guest Speaker: Cheryl Black
“Three! Two! One! (Go). ”
“Good morning everyone, my name is Cheryl Black, welcome to Broad View United the bridge service… …”
The unexpected COVID pandemic in 2020 blocked the way church members sitting together every week. Cheryl Black, as one of the co-ministers in Broad View United, decided to produce a Sunday Service video every Thursday. Members would gather online to watch the Service on YouTube, while sending live greetings to each other like they used to do in the sanctuary.
Working as a Minister and building a large church community in Victoria, BC, is not what Cheryl had planned when she was young. Grew up on a farm in Ontario, Cheryl enjoyed playing sports and cards, sometimes, she would even have a drink casually. Religion is not something that Cheryl relates to although she has followed her grandmother to church a few times. During the last year of Cheryl’s study at McMaster University while earning her tuition fee, she thought about her path in the future. She heard someone telling her,
“You can always be a minister.”
Cheryl found it funny to hear that because she knew nothing about church, she did not like it when she went to the church with her grandmother. However, this statement planted a strong seed in her mind after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. She then decided to take a test by applying to the Minister Program in a Toronto college though the deadline already passed. She thought, if she was accepted, it would be God’s will. Soon, she was disappointed that she had been admitted by the school.
When other classmates have already participated into churches and were familiar with the Bible, Cheryl didn’t know much about it but had fun with it. Cheryl found the Bible interesting so she started studying it gradually. Before becoming a Minister, she studied subjects such as sociology, economy, politics, the Old Testament, the New Testament, worshiping, social justice, ethics, politics and the theology in the Minister program, Cheryl was appointed to a church after graduation.
“The church could be a loving community. Some people need to receive love, and some others can give love. This is the place for people to offer help and love to people who are in trouble,” Cheryl said.
In the first couple of years of Cheryl’s career, she had no idea how to be a good minister. When she visited sick and dying people, she sat by them and sometimes held their hands. People who were dying wanted to know they were not alone and wherever their spirits would go. Cheryl realized that God was kind so people’s spirits go to wherever other loved ones had gone and they would always be surrounded in love.
“I found that many people carry around much guilt in their lives. If I could help them feel better about themselves, that would be good,” Cheryl said.
Being a minister from small churches in Ontario and Saskatchewan to large churches in BC, Cheryl had learned much about churches and being a minister in her over 30 years of minister career. With the constant changes emerging in churches, the role of ministers has changed radically when many churches are closing across Canada. In the churches Cheryl has served, she came up with different ideas and created various programs to help the church finding its way to develop and to bring people together for a loving community.
“I have given a huge part of my life seeing churches growing to be as loving as possible, as far as possible, and including as many people as possible. I think because I was a gay person and knew what it felt like to be on the outside looking in. I have tried in my life to keep the doors and windows open so that people can look in and out. As I looked back, this is a great adventure and rewarding career that I could ever have had,” Said Cheryl.