It is fifty years ago this month since Reverend Paula Gale was welcomed
into the Christian family through the waters of infant baptism from the
font at St. Matthew’s United Church. As the story goes, she cried and
screamed through the whole service, much to the chagrin, she is sure,
of her Grandfather Gale, who was the Clerk of Session. Reverend Paula
believes firmly that God has a wonderful sense of humour and also a great
sense of timing and that it is by God’s design and the Spirit’s
movement that she has now answered the call of God to be the minister
of the Lewisporte Pastoral Charge. Raised in an active church family,
Reverend Paula was nurtured in the faith at St. Matthew’s and involved
in all aspects of church life from junior and teen choir to CGIT, as a youth
member of the Board of Session and the then Terra Nova Presbytery youth
representative to General Council in Victoria, BC in 1988.
After graduation from Lewisporte Regional High in 1989, Reverend Paula
completed Bachelor of Arts (History and Political Science) and Bachelor
of Education (Secondary School) degrees and a Certificate in Library
Studies from Memorial University of NL. She went on to teach at her old
high school as well as substitute in the area for a couple of years before
teaching English As A Second Language in Pusan, South Korea and then
becoming teacher-librarian at Port Williams’s Elementary, a Primary to
Grade 5 school, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.
Reverend Paula recalls her call to ministry as an itch that would never go away and she remembers well the many people, during her high school years, who suggested that theology school and God were calling her to such but, again, God has the timing figured out better than we do. Though heavily involved in church throughout her youth, it was when she was not as active during her early twenties that Reverend Paula truly felt the call of God on her life and heart. In 1997 she finally asked her home congregation of St. Matthew’s to discern that call with her and, after a year of prayerful contemplation and conversation with trusted elders, she made her way to the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Fall of 1998. While a student, she was blessed by being placed for ministry with the congregation of Grace United in Dartmouth and then for an 8-month internship with Fenelon Falls United Church in Ontario, as well as with Coverdale Courtwork Services for Women in Halifax.
In 2002, after losing several loved ones to death and living through the grief that came with those losses, Reverend Paula received her Master of Divinity degree from AST and was ordained to the Ministry of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral Care in the United Church of Canada. At ordination, the church settled Reverend Paula, on July 1, 2002, on the Herring Neck Pastoral Charge on New World Island, NL, with the expectation that she would stay for the covenanted three years. Reverend Paula’s only knowledge of New World Island had been to drive through on a school bus to get to Twillingate for high school hockey games but from the moment she drove into the driveway of the manse, she felt a deep heart connection with the place that would go on to be her spiritual and physical home for 19 years.
During her time on NWI, Reverend Paula served a then newly amalgamated congregation of 250 families and became active in the community and wider church as the faithful people of her congregation loved her into ministry with patience and kindness and enthusiasm for her leadership (and lots of turr dinners!). She served on various committees of the church, was President of the then NL Conference of the UCC in 2014-15, was an elected member of the Executive and Sub-Executive of the United Church of Canada, Commissioner to three General Councils and is currently a member of the Executive of First Dawn Eastern Edge Regional Council (the former NL Conference). Reverend Paula believes strongly in faith formation for all ages and looks forward to working with and having lots of fun with the congregation’s children and youth and their families. You don’t want to miss out on her skills at Sit Down Dodgeball! We are lifelong learners and the teacher in her comes out as Reverend Paula thrives on small group ministry and faith study as we search the scriptures to make sense of our own lives. Watch out for an Advent Retreat Day and other events she is planning for the coming months!
It was her time as a member of the Anglican Youth Movement at St. Paul’s and a member of the Salvation Army sponsored Girl Guides in Lewisporte during the 1980s that Reverend Paula gained an early appreciation for Jesus’ followers of all denominations working together to share Christ’s love for the good of all. She still believes strongly in the importance of ecumenical and inter-faith relations as a way of living out our Christian discipleship. She worked hard while in her settlement charge as an active member and Chair of the Twillingate-New World Island Ministerial Association, the area Pastoral Care Committee and she is currently in her second term as one of two United Church of Canada members of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Council of Churches, a broad and inclusive ecumenical body, now representing 26-member churches representing 85% of the Christians in Canada.
Reverend Paula feels so blessed to be welcomed onto the faith journeys of those who call the Lewisporte Pastoral Charge their faith home. The United Church at St. Matthew’s and Porterville have always been a strong witness of the love of Christ in the community and she is excited to work together to ensure that we can make the communities and world in which we live a better place by living out our faith in action. Being actively involved in community life invigorates Reverend Paula as she was a founding member of the Mental Health, Wellness and Addictions Team of Twillingate-New World Island, chaplain to the K-12 NWI Academy and Secretary of the Island Blades Figure Skating Club Executive.
While on New World Island, God entrusted to Reverend Paula the greatest gifts of her life and, with the move to Lewisporte, her husband Dan is now enjoying living a little farther from the salt water, their daughter Norah is excited to be able to ride her bicycle to school every day and their adult daughter Helen and her husband Joshua, who reside in Gander, are happy to be able to visit for supper more often. If you have driven by their house, you would likely already have seen Popcorn, the family cat, in his spot in the window. Reverend Paula loves to read, for pleasure and not just for work, indulges in an occasional Netflix series, bakes as a stress reliever, enjoys hiking and outdoor adventures with Norah and thinks peanut butter is the best thing ever! (though she knows she can only enjoy it in safe places and ways so as to respect others’ needs and allergies.)
Reverend Paula is keeping office hours at the church and looks forward to meeting you all. She believes we are all called to be about spreading the love of God, that we know in Christ, in our community and world and that God is ever-present with us on this journey of life. She knows that this pandemic time has meant great changes in all of our lives and especially in how we live together as church. As she is still not visiting door-to-door with the public health restrictions still in place, she encourages you to be in touch when there is a pastoral need as she wants to be present to you and would rather hear about something ten times than not at all. With an appreciation for the history and the foundation laid by the faithful on the Lewisporte Pastoral Charge, Reverend Paula looks forward to working together to be the church we and the world need in order to be Christ’s faithful people in new and wonderful ways into the future. The words of the United Church Creed are ones she lives by… “In life, in death, in life beyond death God is with us, we are not alone. Thanks be to God.”