Reverend Deb Hinksman is the newest member of the Ladysmith First United Church.
Hinskman was hired by the church board of directors after Reverend Greg Darjes moved to a new position in Nanaimo. Hinksman conducted her second service on Sunday, February 9.
Although she’s a newcomer to Ladysmith, Hinksman has been a church minister since 1980. She served in Vernon, B.C., Langley, and a few churches in southern Ontario. When Hinksman saw an opening at First United, she jumped at the chance.
“It sounded like a church that was ready to try some new things, and explore,” Hinksman said. “It felt like the right fit.”
Hinksman said she’s loving Ladysmith so far, and is surprised by how big the community is. On the bulletin board in Hardwick Hall, Hinksman placed a map of Ladysmith, and asked church members to pin their location on a map. This will show where the church members are from, as well as areas where the church has no members at all.
The church is open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Hinksman has worked with several high school gay-straight alliances in her career as a minister.
“We are an affirming church, there is no barrier – whether you’re male, female, or you have a different sexual understanding – there’s just no barrier,” Hinskman said. “We’re open to questioning. You don’t have to come in and have a cookie-cutter faith. It’s not about growing the church, it’s more about helping people out there is looking to explore their spirituality.”
Hinksman is looking to provide opportunities through the church that are not overtly religious. She sees the role of the church in helping to fight loneliness and build community.
“It’s the place and that community where you can be nurtured week after week, and get what you need to go into the next week,” she said.
For those wanting to meet Hinskman outside regular Sunday Service, she will be hosting Monday coffee meetings at Hardwick Hall at 10 am. Hinksman said she’s also happy to speak privately with anyone in the community.
“I hope people will come to see me as their minister, even if they don’t attend church,” Hinksman said. “I think everybody needs and deserves a faith that works for them… I’m here to serve.”