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Ken MacQuarrie: More than a minister

From revealing the inner workings of bee hives to tending bar at TCAG fundraisers, this is one busy reverend
Shaunna and Ken MacQuarrie sharing their passion for beekeeping with kids at the TCAG. Bob Liddycoat / Thorold News

Raised on a dairy farm near Charlottetown, PEI, Ken MacQuarrie has left his indelible mark on Thorold since the minister and his wife Shaunna moved here with their two children in 2009.

“After feeling called to ministry, I studied in PEI (UPEI, Maritime Christian College), Manitoba (Providence College), and Montreal (McGill University, Presbyterian College),” he told ThoroldNews.

The father of Jessie, now 11, and Ben, age eight, Rev. MacQuarrie has been the beloved minister at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church for the past 11 years.

Calling Thorold “a warm, friendly city, with the neighbourly character of a small town,” he added, “We wanted to live in a place where we could happily raise our children. Thorold has been exactly that place for us. The congregation has been our family and we've been blessed by the very warm way in which they received us and welcomed us into their lives.”

While he has recently “received a call to become the minister of Knox Presbyterian Church in St. Catharines,” MacQuarrie said his family is “grateful for the people of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and for the wonderful years we have known in Thorold.”

“In my time as minister at St. Andrew's we have welcomed many new friends to our church family and honoured the legacies of those who have left this life. Our congregation has grown in warmth, trust and relationship with one another, God, and others in our city. We have made our facility a hub of community activity – hosting the Thorold Lions Club, Girl Guides of Canada, and the Thorold Reed Band, among others.”

In 2017, MacQuarrie was invited to join the board of directors for the Thorold Community Activities Group.

“Years ago, someone told me that Thorold was ‘built on volunteers’,” he explained. “We all do well to find the places where we will give a little bit of ourselves for the betterment of our community. For me, the TCAG was an ideal place to do so. I really appreciate how actively they engage our city above and beyond their own direct interests. Executive director Dan Pelletier has been tremendous to work with. I have enjoyed observing his leadership and am thrilled with how much strength the TCAG has developed in recent years.”

Starting his second board term, MacQuarrie will continue assisting with various TCAG events and activities.

“Ken has been a consummate volunteer leader with the TCAG,” stated Pelletier. “In the board room, he offers a principled, courageous and astute option which often leads to the best possible outcome for the TCAG and for our community. He is bright, positive and principled, which he manages to balance with a well developed sense of humour. Ken often goes above and beyond the responsibilities of a board member by sharing his talents and hobbies with the children in TCAG programs – including his live demonstration of a working bee hive and his lending of a quail incubator and hatchery so our Child Care and Day Camp children could witness the experience from hatching through viable life. Ken also has the rare ability to speak to children in language they understand while not losing the important information. We feel privileged and blessed to have Ken on the TCAG board of directors.”

When the MacQuarries began keeping honeybees a few years ago, “An unexpected joy of that endeavour has been the way in which community – friends from the churches, TCAG, and throughout Thorold – have engaged with us,” he said.

Following a Thorold News article highlighting the couple’s hobby in the summer of 2019, various people approached them to purchase honey, and to teach about beekeeping.

“To date, we have shared with churches, Girl Guides groups, school classrooms, and the TCAG. I think it's important that we do our part to understand our food system and care for creation.”

MacQuarrie has been a key leader in the development of OneThorold.

“A few years ago, some of the church leaders in our city had the dream of building community engagement and participation by connecting political leaders, businesses, churches, non-profits and citizens in the effort of strengthening our city. In 2018, we hosted a prayer breakfast that was attended by approximately 85 people.”

A monthly get-together of interested parties followed; its goal to “explore some of the social issues affecting our community” and consider options to address them. “Through these gatherings we have connected the efforts of various organizations.”

Currently, OneThorold is striving to build accessible housing and strengthen "neighbourliness among our communities.” A total of “101 people joyfully attended the prayer breakfast held in November 2019,” he added, “and so engagement and good will in our community is growing.”

According to Pelletier, a fellow OneThorold member, MacQuarrie “skillfully facilitates the discussion as a co-chair for the monthly meetings, bringing sensitivity and knowledge to the topics while ensuring input from all people” in attendance.

While lending his caring expertise to all these causes, he’s remained the heart and soul as St. Andrew’s leader, where he’ll remain until the end of April.

In his opinion, “The primary tasks of the church are: to provide avenues for people to worship God in community and grow spiritually, and to be a faithful witness of Christ to the world around us, and we have sought to be faithful and creative in our approach to living out our Christian call. I would encourage all citizens of our City to invest in life and community – get out and be engaged in groups and activities, always be growing in your skill and understanding, and find meaningful ways to make the gift of your life matter in a positive way to influence others.”

“We have also sought to blend the best of our tradition with contemporary elements. While our facility and our liturgy are ‘traditional,’ we use video screens to share readings, images, and videos; we communicate regularly with the congregation and community through email and Facebook and we have recently adapted to the need for social isolation by sharing our worship services via YouTube. At the heart of things, though, the greatest mark of accomplishment for a church is worship. And we have worshipped through all of the ups and downs, as we continue to do now. And God is faithful in all things.”