We will draw a minister’s name monthly to uphold. The minister is to provide us with a bio and photograph to upload on our website.
Our first Minister of the Month is Susan Beaver
Through my mother I am Mohawk and was born and raised on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. I was named after my maternal grandmother Susan (Strength) Martin. Her family walked from Kanesatake to Wahta and she lived there until she was sent to Mt. Elgin residential school (one of the schools that my father also was sent to). I am not sure how gramma met my grandfather, Tip, but she did and then came ma, then came me. Grand River United Church, where I now serve as minister, was my grandparents’ and my mother’s home church. I can see their graves through the windows when I stand at the table for communion. I was not always close to the church. As a young girl, I was afraid of the church because I think I sensed its power and the presence of the spirits. I moved away from home to go to university in Toronto in 1984 and did not come back until 2000. I came out to my mother as lesbian in the mid-80s and she made it known that I was not welcome to live on the reserve any more. Nonetheless, I have always walked a spiritual path. When I was young I needed a ceremony only the pre-Christian longhouse tradition could provide, one that healed me of several physical ailments. Since that time I’ve always followed a winding spiritual path. Not being able to move home, I moved all around with my partner – to the Yukon, BC and Colorado – and I was invited to sweats, winter dances, fasting, synagogue, and Buddhist and Christian meditation. I believe that even though I was far from home and never expected to live here again, the Creator watched over me and sent me elders and spiritual people from many traditions to look after me while I wandered. I finished my undergraduate degree at Naropa University, a Buddhist university, where I met and studied with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. He changed my life. Before, I had been somewhat bitter about Christianity and its role in the colonization of our land but “Reb Zalman” loved God so much he made me want to love God too. So I went back to my family’s Christian roots and went back to Grand River United Church in 2006. My partner and I have been loved and welcomed by the congregation there and I give thanks for their ever faithful witness to the gospel of Christ. I have also been called to serve as Co-chair of Great Lakes Waterways Presbytery, Chair of GLWP Council on Learning, and member of the Intercultural Ministries Task Group. I graduated from Emmanuel College in Toronto in 2014, was ordained that same year at Grand River, and I continue to work with Emmanuel College by bringing their classes to Six Nations for exposure to the history and issues of indigenous peoples in Canada. I give thanks and praise for all life.