Julie Druker | Oct 30, 2014
by Julie Druker and Jeff Green
It was an emotional afternoon at the new Land O'Lakes Emmanuel United Church in Northbrook, where a full house gathered to say farewell to Reverend Judith Evenden. Evenden became the minister at the pastoral charge eight years ago, which at that time included the United churches of Cloyne, Flinton and Harlowe. In what she described as “eight wonderful years of transformational ministry”, she helped the three congregations through a challenging time of change that saw them come together in a difficult decision to sell off the three church properties in order to build a new, more functional place of worship.
With the new church near Northbrook nearly complete and with the congregation now worshiping there, it seems ironic that Evenden, who was at the helm during the historic changes, is now taking leave of her flock after having brought them together under one roof. Evenden gave her notice back in July informing her congregation that she would be moving back to Kingston and would be holding her final service at Land O' Lakes Emmanuel United on October 26. With that date in mind the congregation planned a special celebration and invited Evenden and her partner Eleanor Belfry-Lyttle to the new church on October 25 for a farewell that included an entertaining and heartfelt recounting of her history and accomplishments there.
Speakers included mission chair Jean Sedore, Lois Wise, Janet Wilson, Bev Scott and Louise Hogg and the presentations were filled with laughter, joy and tears. Evenden was presented with a number of gifts and keepsakes and she spoke to me of the final sermon that she would be giving the following day. She spoke of the coincidental timing of her departure. “When I gave my notice in July, I used the end of the Exodus story. Because we at the United church work on a certain cycle of readings that is used internationally, what I did not know is that the reading tomorrow will be that Exodus story.” Evenden said that she will be giving the congregation cuttings from a Moses in the Bulrushes plant, which she was gifted and has cared for for decades. She will also be giving the congregation a Bible as a parting gift. In the interim until a new minister is appointed, members will be carrying on regular worship services at the new church, and former minister, Reverend Wayne Hilliker, will be leading services there along with others.
Evenden said she will be returning to the church for its special dedication service, which will be taking place in the near future.
Photo-2006 Reverend Judith Evenden and her partner Eleanor Belfry-Lyttle were honored at a special service at Land O'Lakes Emmanuel United church in Northbrook on October 25