Winter 2017 Newsletter

Indigenous ministry in the United Church has been shaped by many caring and courageous individuals. On the passing of Honoured Elder Rev.J. Douglas McMurtry in December 2016, we’ve gathered stories and photos from his life that help tell the history of the ministry we carry out today as the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. Have a read!


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Remembering Doug McMurtry

Today friends and family are gathering to mark theimg_1264-2 passing and celebrate the life of Rev. Doug McMurtry, a dear friend of the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. Doug was an elder at many classes here and spent a lot of time with our students over the years. He was always at the graduations to celebrate with our students. We are so grateful for the time and knowledge he shared with our students and staff. He will be greatly missed.

You can read about his life in his obituary.

Doug worked in many northern communities. Elders there gifted him with these banners. In 2014, Doug wrote, in a letter gifting these banners to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, “Some of the squares, as you will see, are of home-tanned moose hide and some of are of split cow hide. All speak of my love of Aboriginal people and I can think of no better place to give them[.]”

Thank you Doug, for these, and the many gifts your shared with us.

banners-from-doug-007 banners-from-doug-006

Jessie of the Morning Star



We’re just (re)discovering the song “Jessie of the Morning Star” that songwriter Chuck Kroeker composed about Jessie Saulteaux. He visited the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre (one of the founding Centres of SSSC) in the 90s and was inspired to write this song by Dr. Jessie’s personal example of spirituality and respect for Creation. Chuck started his musical project “Carlos and the Suspiroes” in 2014.  You can hear his album at and find more of his music on Youtube.

Have a listen. Click here for the lyrics.

words and music Chuck Kroeker
lead vocal Nancy Finlay
harmonies Erica Fennell and Laura McAlpine
guitar Chuck Kroeker
piano Blair Dalgleish
bass Larry Whitney
drums Ian Fennell
trumpet Steve Wiwchar


Fall 2016 Newsletter

Our latest newsletter tells the story of why Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre is a special place. Students, staff and supporters write about their answer to the question “WHY?” Why does SSSC exist? Why is it important to you? Why are you here? Have a read!



SSSC Takes Part in Giving Tuesday

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. After the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday, on November 29, is a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back.

This Giving Tuesday, Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre invites you to help us raise $1000  to fix our fireplace. We’re looking for 100 friends to chip in $10 each for the first step of these repairs to keep the chilly winter wind out of our centre. Follow us on Facebook as we share photos of some of the many friends who’ve gathered in front of the fireplace here.fireplace-002

Register for Continuing Education Opportunities

Our Learning Circles are a great continuing education opportunity. Join us for one of the upcoming topics:

October 17-21, 2016      CE3 Diaconal Ministry

October 24-28, 2016      H/CD4 Cultural History (Treaties, mission, fur trade)

January 16-20, 2017      BS4 Daniel and Revelations

January 23-27, 2017      CE4 Healthy Growth and Development (Self Care)

Download the registration form.

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Read about some of the different groups that gather under the roof of the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre – and out under the beautiful sky on our land – in this latest edition of our newsletter.

SSSC Welcomes New Staff

We are delighted to welcome Deanna Zantingh as our new Keeper of the Learning Circle and Rob Smith as our new Keeper of the Centre. Deanna and Rob join our Keeper of the Circle Adrian Jacobs, our Administrative Assistant Gail Larson, our Bookkeeper Sandy MacGean and our Business Assistant Erica Young.

As Keeper of the Learning Circle, Deanna Zantingh will be providing leadership in our Ministry Training Program. In her own words, Deanna brings “my passion for reconciliation as the work of the church and my love for teaching within a relational approach to education that combines and respects Indigenous tradition.” She is completing her Masters of Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University with a thesis examining land and identity, as a means of highlighting the prophetic voices of Indigenous people for the church today. Deanna shares some of her story in this presentation at the Mennonite Church Canada Native Assembly in 2014:


As Keeper of the Centre, Rob Smith will be involved in funding development, financial management, overseeing our facilities and retreat centre hospitality. A longtime friend of the Centre, Rob brings 32 years of varied business experience to this role as well as extensive experience in the United Church in his local congregation and presbytery. He has been part of two recent Learning Circles at SSSC. Rob shared his experience studying “Western Systematic Theology and Indigenous Theologies” with us in January:



Grace United Church in Dunnville, Ontario seeking full-time minister

Grace United Church is a multigenerational, musical, caring congregation located on the Grand River where it meets Lake Erie.  We are looking for a minister that has a passion for preaching while blending traditional and contemporary approaches in our worship service.

We welcome a mister who values and is comfortable with pastoral care alongside our pastoral care committee.

Our new minister should be ready to support the work of our Official Board and have innovative ideas to take our church into the community.

Please visit our website and read our JNAC Report at

Should you have any questions or would like to submit your resume please email to or call Nancy O’Neill at 289-738-0093

Resumes will be accepted until April 15, 2016.

Summer 2016 Native Ministries Consortium Courses

The Native Ministries Consortium at Vancouver School of Theology offers Summer School courses that are nonsectarian and interdisciplinary.  Courses examine historical and social data, literary-oral traditions, artistic and other cultural aspects of Indigenous religions.  Courses also examine the philosophical and theological dimensions of Indigenous  thought.

Download the course descriptions for summer 20162016 NMC Summer School courses-1