Cindy Blackstock: Saturday Night Banquet Speaker
Cindy Blackstock is the Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta.
She is a member of the Gitksan First Nation and has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights.
Her promotion of culturally based and evidence informed solutions has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders, and many others.
She is an author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker. Cindy has collaborated with other Indigenous leaders to assist the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development and adoption of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children. She also recently worked with Indigenous young people, UNICEF, and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to produce a youth friendly version of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Cindy is currently completing a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy at Loyola University, Chicago.
Rev. Hugh Donnelly: Praise Leader
The Rev. Hugh Donnelly taught himself to play guitar after enjoying some music one night in an Irish pub. He has a passion for congregational singing, and loves to help groups discover they can sing in harmony. He has led music at APCE, Canada Youth, and many other conferences and events in Canada and the US.
Hugh has been recognized with a Distinguished Leadership Award from Knox College for his creative leadership through music and drama with youth in the church in Canada and the United States and his involvement with Canada Youth, Triennium, and APCE.
Hugh serves as the Minister at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Important activities in Hugh’s life include long distance running, flying small airplanes, and playing with his band, Lost Pilgrims.
Rev. Theresa Cho: Spirituality Centre
The Rev. Therea Cho grew up in Reno, Nevada amid the casino lights, Sierra Nevada mountains, and vast desert land. However, she currently lives in San Francisco surrounded by water, fog, and the bustling noises of an urban city. She calls herself a west coast gal, meaning she loves seafood, 60 degree weather, and has a laid back nature.
She balances her time by serving as a church co-pastor, subverting her husband’s diet with baked goods, cheering her son at soccer games, delighting in her daughter’s unique displays of being herself, and dutifully obeying her dog’s daily demands of being walked, petted, and adored.
She is a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago with awards in preaching and theology. Before coming to St. John’s Presbyterian Church in 2003, she completed a full-year chaplain residency program at UCSF Medical Center, where she continue to volunteer as a baby cuddler and serve as a member of the Professional Advisory Group for Spiritual Care Services.
She loves to teach and therefore has keynoted, preached, and led workshops at a variety of different conferences: youth, women leadership, peacemaking, and worship. She is currently working on her Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, focusing on leading congregational and organizational change.
She also loves to write and has been published in a variety of magazines and online.
Tori Smit: Gathering Host
Tori Smit is a Diaconal Minister and is presently serving as the Regional Minister for Faith Formation for the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda (CNOB). She has served congregations in Milton, Hamilton, and Guelph, Ontario, as well as Orlando, Florida. In the early days, Tori was the Christian Education Consultant for the presbyteries of Brampton and Waterloo-Wellington and more recently served as the team leader for The Vine for the PCC.
Tori has led many workshops across Canada and the United States and has written curriculum for the PCC, Montreat Conference Centre (PCUSA), and Kerygma Bible Studies.
As a life-long learner, Tori most recently studied at Columbia Theological Seminary pursuing her Doctor of Educational Ministry degree focusing on the question “Will our Faith Have Children?: Best Practices For Ministry With Children In Congregations With Ten Or Fewer Children.”
Tori is married to the Rev. Dr. John-Peter Smit. Together they have a grown son and daughter. In her down-time she loves reading great books, and if you ask around you will find most of the members of her much loved clergy women’s book club present at the Women’s Gathering.
Rev. Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls: Preacher
The Rev. Dr. Dutcher-Walls is Dean and Professor of Hebrew Scripture at Vancouver School of Theology. She enjoys teaching a variety of Hebrew Bible courses for all levels from auditors and lay education folks to masters and advanced degree students. She is also the Dean, giving administrative oversight to the academic curriculum.
With her love of teaching, she has led numerous adult education courses, retreats, continuing education courses, and lay education courses in local congregations and presbyteries across Canada. She has been active in the church through regular preaching, social justice ministries, and of course many committees. She is married to a Lutheran pastor and has two adult children, and enjoys singing, reading science fiction, and gardening.
Her publications bridge scholarship for Biblical study both in the academy and the church, including five books and a number of articles in scholarly and religious journals. Her most recent book is one that’s been popular with lay people because it gives an accessible and reader-friendly introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Reading the Historical Books: A Student’s Guide to Engaging the Biblical Text.
Rev. Mona Scrivens: Preacher
The Rev. Mona Scrivens serves joyfully as the lead minister at Amberlea Presbyterian Church.
Mona has a passion for the family, of every configuration. She believes strongly that the role of the Church is to be a support and resource so that families and individual members are nurtured, strengthened, and empowered to honour God in their homes and in the whole of their lives.
Mona’s passion for the family began long before entering into ordained ministry. Being first generation Canadian, first generation Christian, born and raised into an Indian Sikh home, Mona brings a unique perspective to the Presbyterian Church. She is a regular speaker on interfaith matters and is the author of Jesus: According to Sikhism, which is a part of the The God Next Door series.
Her passion for the family is also identified in much of her work both past and present. For fourteen years Mona owned and operated a company called Expectations and was contracted by several hospitals to provide pre and postnatal education. She has been seen on Cityline, The Women’s Network, CTV morning shows and a variety of other broadcasts, communicating her knowledge and passion for the family. Mona is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Toronto, specializing in the area of family ministry, specifically in pregnancy and spirituality.
Mona lives in Scarborough with her husband, Brian and her two amazing children, Emily and Tyler.
Rev. Linda Ashfield: Preacher
The Rev. Linda Ashfield grew up at Knox, Ottawa. In 1979, after graduating from Knox College she was appointed to Chatsworth and Dornoch. Afterwards, she and her husband Brooke served at Gateway Community Church in Toronto in team ministry and in 1989, they were called to Knox, Waterloo.
Linda served on the Board of Ministry, Board of Congregational Life, and the Board of World Mission. She helped create Youth in Mission (YIM) and worked as YIM’s Director. Linda has provided leadership at many youth events, including four Canada Youth and on youth mission trips in Canada and abroad.
Linda has been director or board member at three PCC Church Camps and served on many national boards of the PCC.
She served as moderator of the Presbytery of Waterloo-Wellington, she was invited by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan to attend General Assembly and an exchange with the Bunun Presbytery. She also led a team from Knox with the PCC’s Amity Summer English Program in China.
Linda (along with her husband) was honoured with a Distinguished Leadership Award from Knox College. Linda enjoys reading, gardening, PBS, going for walks, as well as family vacations that often include her three adult daughters and goldendoodle.
Rev. Karen Horst: Preacher
The Rev. Karen Horst began working as a diaconal minister as a Regional Educational Consultant resourcing congregations and developing leaders. As minister of Word and Sacraments, she has served different-sized congregations including as an interim minister. Currently, she is Minister of St. Andrew’s, Orillia and also serves the church as the Moderator of the 141st General Assembly (2015).
She has served on many national committees and was the convener of Presbyterian World Service & Development for six years.
She has also served on design teams for Triennium and at guidance conferences for ministerial discernment. Karen has represented our denomination in church school curriculum design and has written countless study-guides and courses for all ages.
She has been a keynote speaker at women’s conferences, presbyteries, and youth events. She will be a familiar face to those who have attended previous Women’s Gatherings because Karen served as our MC for the past two events.
Her passions are her family (especially her four granddaughters) international development, leading conferences, and assisting congregations in strategic aplanning and conflict resolution. Her sense of humour has been a great asset. She enjoys the family motorcycle with her husband and her congregation’s motorcycle gang called the “Holy Rollers”.