When United Church minister Andrew Love, Artsci’88, MPL’93, MDiv’09, enrolled in Queen’s Theological College in his late 30s, he was finally answering a call that he become aware of during his undergraduate years.
“I’ve been active in my church all my life, so when I had this sense of a calling to ministry during my first time 'round at Queen’s, I chatted with (Queen’s Chaplain) Brian Yealland and explored the idea. But I wasn’t quite ready,” says Andrew.
After completing his BA in politics and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Andrew spent most of his 20s working on community health and social housing projects. These experiences allowed him to advance his understanding of social welfare but ultimately left him feeling unfulfilled. After nearly a decade in planning, he moved into the technology sector and enjoyed several years flying all around the world in a public relations role, but still he had the feeling that something was missing from his life.
In 2001, having thoroughly explored several alternative career avenues, he finally felt ready to respond to his spiritual calling. During the time he studied for his MDiv at Queen’s, he commuted from Ottawa a couple of days a week and also worked as a student minister in four different churches east of Ottawa – an internship experience he describes as “a fascinating way to learn.”
Andrew was ordained as a United Church minister in 2009 and found the transition from congregation member to congregation leader relatively seamless. “Having held leadership positions in other fields helped, and I found I was able to bring a lot of life experience and an emphasis on community involvement to my new role,” he says.
His passion for social justice and equality is clear in the concerns he recently raised about a United Church report on the Israel-Palestine conflict that recommends a boycott on Israeli products made in settlements in the West Bank. Having spent time talking with Palestinians on the West Bank, Andrew is well aware of the very difficult reality they face, but he nonetheless feels there’s been little effort by the United Church to hear both voices.
“The report contains some constructive comments, but, in my view, these are overshadowed by three or four elements that are really counterproductive,” he explains. “I’m concerned that we’re eroding our commitment to build bridges with the Jewish community.”
The church’s emphasis, he believes, should be on supporting efforts at reconciliation and endorsing constructive peace initiatives that are coming from the people themselves – peace efforts built on common ground rather than the wedges that divide them.
“Whatever we can do to stay in dialogue is a good thing,” he says. “It’s important to recognize that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all share the same Abrahamic root, and we must constantly work to build bridges rather than fueling conflict. In my own little way, that’s what I’m trying to do.”