Anne Dow (Moss) was sixteen when she first considered a career in the church. At a Young People’s Rally in Truro Nova Scotia, she decided to be a missionary. This remained a private yearning as she studied at secretarial school and began her career as secretary. Her life took a different path a few years later when she was attending winter session at Tatamagouche Centre. A United Church minister from Quebec came to teach a course and while there convinced Anne and another student to come to teach school near Gaspe where there was a desperate need for English speaking teachers. Although this was not overseas, it was a chance to experience a brand new place and to try her hand at teaching. Anne stayed two years, teaching in a one room school and says, “It was scary and it was wonderful.” When she returned to Nova Scotia she got a job at the Pine Hill Divinity Hall. There she met Dr. Chalmers who encouraged her to train as a deaconess. In 1961 she began her studies at the United Church Training School in Toronto. The school was renamed Covenant College while she was there. She graduated in 1963.
Anne’s first job as deaconess was at First United Church in Kelowna, B.C. Dr. Birdsall, the minister for the church at that time, traveled to Toronto and interviewed her there. Moving across the country appealed to Anne’s adventurous nature and away she went. In her report in First United’s 1963 Annual Report she says, “Christian education involves answers to basic questions: Who is God? Who am I? What is the meaning of life? The answers come not through intellect alone, but through experience. We come to know God and ourselves through our relationships with people.” Noreen Simpkins, a member of First United, remembers Anne as always available to answer questions and ready to back the teacher’s up. She encouraged and supported the teachers. Through regular debriefings she and her team of teachers looked for ways to improve the education they offered. Noreen says that Anne had an inviting presence and was a great help.
During her time at First United in Kelowna there were two key influences that helped shape her ministry. Ivan Cumming was the BC Conference minister responsible for Christian Education at the time. He was an innovative, experiential educator who led training sessions to introduce the New Curriculum. Anne participated in his workshops and then acted as trainer for Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery. During the summers, Anne worked with Olive Sparling in leading Observation/Practice schools at Naramata Centre. Teachers came to practice their skills by leading sessions for the children who came with their families for a week or two at Naramata’s summer program. When the children went out for their swimming time, the leaders would critique one another to improve their skills. Acting as trainer took Anne beyond her work at First United to share her passion for teaching with a broader community. Anne really enjoyed her Presbytery responsibilities and identifying with the wider church remains a passion for her to this day.
After four years at First, Anne felt called to move once more. She accepted a position at Knox United in Prince George, once again as Christian Education Director. After a year at Knox, Anne went back to work as a secretary. She married and had two children. When her children were grown, she thought about getting herself reinstated as a diaconal minister but on reflection decided to continue to work in the church as a lay person. She has been very active in whatever United Church she belonged to. From Prince George to Quesnel to Vernon, she has worked as an educator, worship leader and committee member. She loved serving the larger church, taking roles on the Education and Students Committee for presbytery and conference and working on the Children’s Working Unit for B.C. Conference. She also worked on the curriculum writing team for the Whole People of God for a year and a half, traveling to Naramata to participate in group brain-storming sessions and returning home to write her assigned sections.
Anne’s gifts for ministry include creativity and teaching. Anne is a poet and uses her poetry to reflect on her spiritual journey. Anne says “Looking back over a lifetime in the United Church, there have been a myriad of guiding aspirations, scriptures, writers and individuals important in my spiritual journey. The one lasting belief is simple: ‘The Creator of the universe, the Creator of me, is a loving Creator’”. With this as a grounding, the concept that ‘The journey is the home’ as conceived by Shirley Jane Endicott’s book Facing The Tiger is a central guiding belief for Anne. God is in the ‘process’ is a concept Anne learned early on in her career as a deaconess. (Photo of Anne) She is currently active at Trinity United Church in Vernon and is especially nurtured by her work in the planning team for the annual women’s retreats to Naramata Centre each spring. This poem was written in response to the Women’s Retreat in 2006.
At the women’s retreat.
It was hard not to feel awe.
Forty women came.
Forty different seekers.
Forty ways of knowing …
Forty words for God’s name.
Forty voices asking
One morning in the chapel,
Forty lights were lit,
And each woman heard the words
“This is your Light”.
Lit from the One Light.
The Beginning and Everlasting
Then forty women packed their bags,
And forty women
Began the journey home.
This profile was written by Debbie Stockdale for an assignment at the Centre for Christian Studies, 2009.
 1963 Annual Report, First United Church, Kelowna, B.C.
 Noreen Simpkins, member First United Church, interviewed by Debbie Stockdale, January, 2009