UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Cheri DiNovo. Photo courtesy of Cheri DiNovo

Activist politician returns to pulpit

'I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish'

By Patricia Clarke


Rev. Cheri DiNovo, an NDP member of the Ontario legislature, often said she would go back to pastoral ministry when the time was right.

That time has come. On Jan. 1, DiNovo will begin ministering to Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts in Toronto.

After 11 years in politics, she says, “I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish.” That includes increasing the minimum wage, ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ people and giving voice to the voiceless. Those were her goals when she left the Emmanuel-Howard Park United congregation in Toronto in 2006, where her radical ideas and outgoing personality tripled attendance over eight years.

DiNovo, who is 66, says two small strokes had a part in her decision to leave politics. “They were a wake-up call. I had to think: how do I want to spend the rest of my life?”

Why Trinity-St. Paul’s? DiNovo was initially intrigued by the job ad, which stated that the church’s 152 active member families were seeking a minister to continue the congregation’s long tradition of social justice activism and “to share this passion and public witness.” What the search committee found in her, says co-chair Barbara Lloyd, was “vision, enthusiasm for the work of the church in the world, [and] a deep passion — theologically grounded — to work for justice.”

DiNovo, meanwhile, had concluded that what social activists — often exhausted and frustrated by politics — need is a place that “offers sanctuary and support.” That’s what appealed to her about the call. “It’s so important to be part of a supportive community. In the church, we can build those alternate communities.”

A few had worried that DiNovo would be preaching the NDP gospel. Not her plan. For her upcoming covenanting service in February, she has invited Ontario’s Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne, to preach.




Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image
Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Promotional Image