- 1941 - Born
Janet MacPherson, the only child of Daniel, a CNR Railman, and Eunice Lutes, a secretary, was born in Moncton, New Brunswick in 1941. CGIT and summer camps, (where she also worked as a swimming instructor) provided some great mentors. After high school Janet spent a year at New Brunswick Teachers’ College receiving a diploma in the spring of 1960. A few months later she entered the United Church’s Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. While studying, she also found her way to the Atlantic Christian Training Centre’s leadership training program (now Tatamagouche Centre), completing it in 1963. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 1964.
Janet took her teaching skills to Kofu Japan as a “J-3” missionary under the appointment of the United Church’s Board of World Mission. J-3s were short term missionaries, appointed for 3 years. They did not receive the same level of preparation and language training as long term missionaries. She had wanted to be a missionary since CGIT days, inspired by the mission study her group did and her experience in Japan confirmed that desire. To become a missionary at that time however, candidates had to have at least two years of training at a theological college. Janet returned to Canada in 1967 entering the 2 year program at Covenant College. The program, in affiliation with Emmanuel College, enabled students with a prior degree to get the diploma from Covenant College and a Master in Religious Education degree. For her summer field experience Janet served in the rural community of Manor, Saskatchewan in 1968.
Janet was designated as a United Church Deaconess by Maritime Conference in May 1969 after her graduation and she returned to Japan, again as a teacher, this time in Toyko. A life-long learner, Janet received a diploma from the Institute of Japanese Studies in 1971 and continued with summer school throughout her time in Japan at the Sophia University.
Returning to Canada in 1974, Janet became the Director of Christian Education at Wesley United Church in Regina. Her next work, with the University of Regina, was teaching English as a Second Language and supervising teaching assistants.
For the decade of 1977 to 1987, Janet staffed a desk in the Division of World Outreach in the General Council offices in Toronto. As the Overseas Personnel Officer she had responsibility for the recruiting, screening and orientation of overseas personnel. She developed and implemented new programs such as overseas experiences for Canadians and co-ordinated the scholarship program. She also co-developed a program for overseas internships for theological students. She travelled extensively, visiting churches in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Caribbean and Middle East for discussion of programs.
In 1988, the World Council of Churches launched the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidary with Women. Janet assumed the responsibilities for work related to the Decade as the National Program Coordinator, working with the Women’s InterChurch Council. Among the responsibilities for this important work Janet had to establish the office and developed a programming and a national network. She produced and distributed printed resource materials, study guides and co-ordinated production of two videos. She was also involved in delivering educational programs. The Decade was a catalyst for energizing a lot of activity focused on women’s full participation in church and society, although it was mostly among women in the church. The national ecumenical coordination of the project from this office played a key role in the success of the Decade.
After establishing the Decade work Janet moved to the offices of the Canadian Council of Churches, first as the Project Coordinator, under the Development and Service Committee. In this position she maintained regular contact with national and international church agencies regarding development projects and in response to emergency situations. She wrote applications for funding of development projects resulting in more than $3 million in grants in one year and she worked with Canadian churches to jointly access government funds for overseas development projects.
Janet’s responsibilities shifted in 1993 when she became the Administrator with the CCC and assumed responsibility for the ongoing functioning of the office. Her responsibilities included supervision of staff, planning for major events, and communication with member churches.
In 1997 Janet left the CCC to spend a year in San Francisco studying Qigong, a Chinese healing discipline. Her volunteer work there was with the East West Academy of Healing Arts. Her role included administration and planning for a large international congress. Returning to Toronto in 1998, Janet was engaged in administrative work with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Her final work prior to retirement was two years spent as the Coordinator of Spiritual and Religious Care at the Bendale Acres Home for the Aged. Janet retired in 2002.
In her retirement Janet lives in Toronto with her partner, Miriam Skey. They were married in Port Sydney, Ontario in 2006. She continues her ministry as a Volunteer Associate Minister at St. Andrew’s United Church.
This biography was written May 2013 by Caryn Douglas, with thanks to Janet for her input.