Researcher: Loraine Mackenzie Shepherd
Rev. Dr. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd was the 2012 United Church of Canada McGeachy Senior Scholar. The Scholarship, awarded annually, was established to develop leaders who will inspire the church toward creative and faithful mission.
Loraine’s project focused on an analysis of United Church of Canada mission strategies, domestic and foreign, to determine how the strategies affected colonizing attitudes and practices. Mission approaches changed most dramatically in the period between 1925 and 1980, so the Archives was a logical place to turn to find documentation for the study.
Archival Research Findings
Occupying a seat in the bright, open Archives Centre reading room Loraine spent a couple of months at the Archives. She explains, “I reviewed every General Council Record of Proceeding and every issue of the church’s magazine, New Outlook and later The Observer, from the inception of the United Church in 1925 to today. I was looking for reference to mission policies, Aboriginal people, ethnic minorities, racism, Jewish relations, pacifism, and interfaith.”
From this research, she discovered a significant discrepancy between home and foreign mission policies. On the world scene the United Church developed partnerships with overseas mission bodies and enabled local leadership who then directed the mission. But particularly with Aboriginal missions in Canada, this transfer of authority did not take place and colonizing and controlling policies were maintained. Loraine contends, “If this had been caught sooner, we may not have made so many mistakes with our mission work amongst the First Nations peoples of Canada.”
Loraine’s research has resulted in the publication of an article “From Colonization to Right Relations: The Evolution of United Church of Canada Missions within Aboriginal Communities” in International Review of Mission (Volume 103 • Number 1 • April 2014). (pdf version here). Additionally she has developed a presentation and a workshop designed to help congregations evaluate their own mission statement and outreach projects. Loraine can be reached at lorainemackenzieshepherd “at” westworth.ca
Award for Research Excellence
In 2014, Loraine was the recipient of an Association of Manitoba Archives Award for Excellence in Archival Research. The award recognizes users of archives who have completed an original work of excellence which contributes to the understanding Manitoba history.
Loraine is currently in ministry at Westworth United Church in Winnipeg and is an adjunct professor at the United Centre for Theological Studies at the University of Winnipeg. She has aPhD in Interdisciplinary Studies in Systematic Theology and Feminist Theory from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology. Her publications include “Feminist Theology and the Church: A Postmodern Alternative for Canadian Faith Communities,” “Church of the Margins: A Call to Solidarity,” Story After Story (editor), and Feminist Theologies for a Postmodern Church: Diversity, Community, and Scripture.