There’s a saying that timing is everything and for Diane Knowles that couldn’t be more true for how she became the new minister at Trinity United Church in Huntsville.
“My husband retired at the end of last year, primarily due to COVID-19,” said Knowles. “It was kind of the impetus for me to start looking around. It was always our plan to retire in Huntsville. We had built a cottage/retirement home here in 2012. I thought well maybe this is the time I need to change. The stars kind of aligned. I saw the announcement that they needed a minister in Huntsville and I thought ‘why don’t I just apply?'”
Knowles said after doing a second interview for the position it was crunch time.
“I had to decide okay, what am I going to do? Am I going to stay or go and it was really a tough decision,” she said. “I mean if my ministry had been riddled with conflict and it wasn’t life-giving it’d be easy. But it was life-giving, it was a good fit. Do I give up that and go into something unknown? I thought I needed to pray about it. After a few weeks of discernment I decided it was time to go. It was probably one of the most difficult things to do to tell my congregation.”
Prior to arriving in Huntsville, Knowles was a minister in Bond Head for over 13 years.
“Change is never easy. We all resist change,” she said. “But the reality is life is full of change and we can resist it or we can flow with it.”
Knowles has been the new minister at Trinity for just over three weeks now.
“Like any new job it’s nerve wracking. You’ve got to learn all the names and who’s responsible for what,” she said. “Of course COVID puts another layer of difficulty because you can’t meet people face-to-face. But Zoom has been really helpful. All of our services are recorded and uploaded on YouTube.”
Knowles said they had considered opening this past Sunday for service, but they pulled the brake on that idea due to the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 in the community.
“I think we need to err on the side of safety,” she said. “We’re going to continue with our online services until there are more vaccines and people feel more comfortable being back in the pew.”
Staring into a camera is far different than looking at faces during a service, noted Knowles.
“It’s a totally different ball of wax when you’re looking at a little red light in a camera as opposed to a congregation of bodies in front of you, I mean you can’t see who’s falling asleep,” she said with a laugh. “I always knew who was having a little snooze down there.”
Knowles said Trinity has adapted very well to COVID-19 and continuing to serve the community through its ministry.
“We are still continuing to be the hands and heart of Christ in the world even though the doors are closed. I think the church has left the building and that’s a good thing. Over the past few months people who have never dawned the door of a church are actually coming online and finding a spiritual space where they feel comfortable. That’s a good thing,” said Knowles. “I think what this has shown us is that when this pandemic is over the church needs to keep an online presence for people who, for whatever reason, cannot get out to church or who have no real church affiliation but just want that word of encouragement, that word of hope that it’s going to be okay. I think that’s the key learning from this season of COVID. The church is the people in it, not the bricks and mortar. Especially at Trinity, I’ve seen how they’ve continued to be a part of the community.”
Knowles said for those who follow Jesus it’s all about relationships.
“I’d like to bring a sense of optimism, a sense of new beginning that the door is opening on a new beginning,” she said about coming onboard at Trinity. “I hope to be able to help grow our hearts and souls and see the church as a school of love where we can all aspire to inspire others with God’s hope and love. We’re all God’s people and we’re all called to minister to others in the world. I see my ministry revolving around three Cs; Christ, community and connection. I hope to foster a spiritual growth and deepen people’s ability to walk deeper along their spiritual path, giving them the opportunity to do that.
“Love God and love other people. How do you love God? By loving other people. It’s really not that complicated. If we follow in Christ’s way. His way is a path of compassion and love and forgiveness, then the world would be a better and brighter place for all people. For me, because I’m Christian, Jesus is the way. But I’m also very comfortable with other religions being pathways to the truth as well.”
To view the online services by Trinity, visit trinityunitedchurchhuntsville.weebly.com.
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