Carrie Lehn ordained at Ottawa Mennonite

June 29, 2023 | News | Volume 27 Issue 13
Jan Schroeder | Ottawa Mennonite Church
Cathrin van Sintern-Dick (left), Carrie Lehn and Lou Bruno, at Lehn’s ordination. (Photo by Dennis Gruending)

Carrie Lehn, associate pastor of Ottawa Mennonite Church, was ordained in the Sunday morning service on June 18. For Carrie, it was a sacred and special moment, and a milestone affirmed and celebrated by Ottawa Mennonite Church (OMC), where she has worked for the past decade.

It is also a historic moment for the denomination, as Carrie is the first openly gay minister to be ordained in Mennonite Church Canada.

The ordination was led by Cathrin van Sintern-Dick—regional ministry associate for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada—and Lou Bruno, who serves as council chair at Ottawa Mennonite. Several friends and colleagues shared greetings and blessings, including Marilyn Rudy-Froese of MC Eastern Canada; Sara Erb, of Steinmann Mennonite Church, and Anthony Siegrist, former lead pastor at OMC.

The service featured many well-chosen songs played and sung with gusto, as well as a video compilation of OMC youth and young adults sharing their appreciation of Carrie’s numerous pastoral gifts and skills. Carrie was described as fun, “chill,” caring, inclusive, thoughtful and a community builder who offers great snacks and meaningful sermons. Rainbow colours and spring flowers graced the sanctuary.

The sermon was delivered by Michele Rae Rizoli, a pastor at Toronto United Mennonite Church. Rizoli talked about the story of the burning bush and what it shows about how God invites leaders. First God reminded Moses of the sacred ground on which he stood, then called him to lead his people, knowing he was imperfect, but seeing that a passion for justice and liberation motivated Moses.

Rizoli said Carrie’s qualities as a minister are rooted in this same leadership tradition. Humility, passion, curiosity, authenticity, generosity and resistance to power are the characteristics Carrie brings to both OMC and the wider communities she serves.

Quoting a mutual acquaintance, Rizoli described Carrie by saying, “basically, she’s a badass.” Rizoli added that according to the internet this term is not considered vulgar when used as a compliment, so she felt okay about saying it out loud in a sermon. Her listeners were delighted.

Another theme of the service was the many shoulders of others, particularly other women in ministry, upon which Carrie stands. From references to Sarah, Hagar, and Mary in Stephanie Burgetz’s opening remarks, to Lois and Eunice, mentioned in the scripture passage read from 2 Timothy, to the midwives and mothers who rescued and nurtured young Moses, to the female mystics and martyrs Anthony Siegrist referenced, to the women in Carrie’s life who have supported her, including her partner Sarah Garland, all those present were reminded that a call to church leadership is not just between God and one person, but is a group effort of the past and the present.

Carrie’s ordination is not just God’s blessing on Carrie but on all of us. It is also another holy step towards true justice for all those who have been called to serve but were (and still are) turned away or marginalized because of their gender or sexual orientation.

It was a day for celebration and a service OMC will cherish in its collective memory. 

Jan Schroeder is a member of Ottawa Mennonite Church.

Cathrin van Sintern-Dick (left), Carrie Lehn and Lou Bruno, at Lehn’s ordination. (Photo by Dennis Gruending)

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Since when has the internet been allowed to set the standards for acceptable language within the church? I'm referring to this new pastor being described as "badass."

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