TUMC’s staff team members were all asked ‘What’s a special place for you at 1774 Queen St East?’
Read their answers below, and learn a little about their gifts and experiences…
Michele Rae Rizoli
“I love our multipurpose meeting room. When it is full of people for worship they are the faces and voices of those who have chosen to gather to connect with God, to sing, to raise their children together and find mutual encouragement on their faith journey. When it is empty it holds the echoes of a beautiful diverse community. We’ve had funerals here, healing services, square-dancing, talent shows, beach parties, craft sales and even elections. I sometimes resist calling it a “sanctuary” yet our hope is that it will actually prove to be a place of refuge and safety for all who find their way here.”
Michele, one of the “shepherds” of our little flock, grew up in Brazil, where she was shaped by the culture and her parents’ work as missionaries with the Mennonite Church. She has been a member of TUMC since 1993. In 2013 she was called to minister here as a pastor and received affirmation to be ordained in 2016. Michele earned her Master of Divinity from Emmanuel College at the Toronto School of Theology with courses at Conrad Grebel University College. She previously worked in editing, translation (Portuguese-English) and administration, and she also holds a long forgotten bachelor’s degree in music.
Michele is divorced and the mother of two grown sons, and grandmother to two lovely grandchildren. She loves travel, word games, movies, and good conversation, telling stories or jokes. She believes firmly in the importance of working for peace and nurturing inter-generational, inter-cultural and inter-religious compassion.
You may e-mail her as firstname.lastname@example.org
“I love our library space, which looks into the sanctuary so that children who are feeling fidgety can take some time out with the books and toys, and still be part of the service. I enjoy meeting with people there, in the in-between space, surrounded by the books that have nurtured and taught us.”
Peter was born into a non-denominational Christian community in England, giving him early experience of living out faith in every aspect of life. He studied English Literature at Stirling University, where he also encountered theologies of liberation and solidarity, calling followers of Jesus into action for social justice. Following that call he came to Turtle Island in 2010 to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams as part of the Indigenous Solidarity program. Peter has been active in interpreting issues of decolonization and solidarity to the Church through sermons, workshops, and two chapters in Unsettling the Word – Biblical Experiments in Decolonization (Mennonite Church Canada 2018).
After attending for several years, Peter formally joined TUMC in 2015 and has served on Preaching Team, as a Junior Youth Sunday School teacher, and as a consultant to the Mission and Service Committee. Since 2016, Peter has been the National Coordinator of the Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM). In that role Peter is a core organizer of the Cahoots Festival, an annual ecumenical skill-sharing event focused on faith and justice.
Peter accepted a call to pastoral ministry at TUMC in November 2019.
Peter is married to Ken, living together with housemates in Toronto’s former Catholic Worker community. Peter enjoys Arthurian literature, roleplaying games, small group Bible studies without foregone conclusions, and drinking cups of tea with friends and enemies.
You may e-mail him as Peter.Haresnape@tumc.ca
Ministry Team for Youth and Children
“Despite my love of open spaces, I gravitate towards the Sunday School rooms in the basement. For me they symbolize the nurturing that we do in our congregation and the amazing conversations that happen when people gather with intentionality. There is also a secret in the youth room, which only graduated youth and their sponsors know about!”
Audrey brings her energy, gifts, wisdom, faith and humour to the important work of nurturing our kids through Christian Education, Venture Club (pre-teens), GERMS (junior youth) and TUMY (senior youth). She’s assisted in this ministry by carefully vetted volunteers from the congregation to ensure a safe, fun, supportive and faith-building experience for children and teens.
Audrey is a Toronto transplant from southern Alberta, and still misses the big skies and coulees of the prairies. Hanging out with kids, teenagers and young adults is a passion of hers, as is creating inclusive spaces and opportunities for people to gather and support one another. When not engaged in making large quantities of food to support such gatherings, Audrey can be found on a bike, on a walk, in a provincial park, in the garden, nose down in a good book, or in conversation with her kids, family, friends and neighbours. She is married to Geoff and has 4 young adult children, plus several others who are part of their chosen family.
She has been part of the TUMC community for 32 years, working with children and youth for all of those years, the last 6 of them as a staff member.
You can email her here. Audrey.email@example.com
“I love my wee little office that was first presented to me with an apology for being so small, but which I love because it feels cozy and safe. Sometimes we need to experience the grandness of a vaulted worship space; sometimes we need to be secure in a comfy little corner.”
Marieke worked for many years at CBC Radio as a producer on programs like Rewind, Tapestry and Morningside. Now she’s happily taken over administrative duties to help keep TUMC humming and loves the challenge and creativity of working with so many wonderful people. She and her husband Thane Ladner have two grown sons.
You may e-mail her as firstname.lastname@example.org