Running toward Jesus

May 10, 2024 | Faith Story | Volume 28 Issue 7
Wendy Rankin |
Wendy Rankin. Photo by Aaron Epp.

My faith story is one of conversion. I was not simmered in the faith like many people, nor did I have a lightning bolt experience where I remember the exact day and time I came to faith.


My dad was a Catholic conservative from Cape Breton Island and my mom was a Protestant socialist from Vancouver Island. They met in a car crash on the prairies, and I guess you could say the rest is history.


Those were the days when religious differences counted for a lot, and so religion was a major bone of contention in our household when I was growing up. My only exposure to Jesus was the few months I spent in the Salvation Army Sunday school in downtown Winnipeg when I was three years old, and the standard religious education in elementary school, which was still a thing in those days. 


Religion was not a safe subject at home, but I was curious.


When I grew up and left home to go to university, I got to go to church with some of my friends. I really appreciated the opportunity to know that other people were curious and eager to think more deeply about life.


While many of my friends seemed to actually belong, I was hanging around the edges of faith, curious about Jesus, wondering and wanting to belong somewhere.


In my early to mid 20s, I attended a United church in Winnipeg. When I worked as a probation officer in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, I attended another United church.


I came to the realization one day that I was and wanted to be Christian, and so I experienced believer’s baptism.


I probably would have kept going to my local church for years, sneaking closer to Jesus by increments, but God had other plans.


One day, I got a call at my office from a United Church minister I didn’t know who served a five-point parish covering 8,000 square kilometres northwest of Portage la Prairie. I don’t know how he heard of me, but he wanted me to work with him as a lay minister on evenings and weekends, doing all the things a minister does.


At that point, I had only been baptized for a year. I guess you could say I was fearless—and foolish—because I said yes. I was no longer hanging out around the edges; I was running toward Jesus at full speed.


That faith community enfolded me in love and acceptance, and motivated me to keep learning. After two years, I decided to go to seminary to learn more about what I had been presuming to teach.


I had no intention of entering the ministry, but there I was, once again running full speed toward Jesus—not quite sure of what I’d do or see when I got to where I was going.


I was ordained in the United Church of Canada and worked in that denomination until I retired.


In later life, I married a Mennonite. Since 2019, we have attended Hope Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.


I revel in the fact that so many of the people in this church are sophisticated, competent and willing leaders in and outside of the church. On any given Sunday, there is a team of lay volunteers leading worship.


I revel in how the children are embraced and given meaningful jobs to do. It is also inspiring to know that Mennonites, in general, put their money where their mouths are, and finance significant projects locally and all over the world.


I appreciate Hope Mennonite’s radical inclusivity, its active commitment to social justice and the fact that in many, many ways, its theology is like my own. It’s wonderful to be part of a group that is running toward Jesus.


Neither of my parents really understood what happened to me, but they both found themselves running toward Jesus in their own right. When they died, they were members in good standing in their respective churches.


I’m grateful to the people of Hope Mennonite Church for letting me abide with them and for creating a place where I feel comfortable. Thanks be to God!


Wendy Rankin was a United Church of Canada minister for 35 years.

Wendy Rankin. Photo by Aaron Epp.

Share this page: Twitter Instagram

Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.