Enderby’s Woman of the Year 2011, Lorraine Powell, was selected for her inspirational community service through her work as a pastor and volunteer.
“I was quite surprised by it all,” said Powell of the award, which was presented at the Enderby Women in Business meeting in October.
Powell, who is currently president of McKenzie Camp on Mabel Lake, grew up on a farm near Cupar, Sask., where she was active in the Girl Guides, an interest she kept up, eventually becoming a Guide commissioner.
Powell knew that women could be pastors because Lydia Gruchy, the first woman to be ordained in the United Church in Canada, served in Cupar. Still, Powell never imagined that the ministry would be her own future calling.
She studied accounting, married and was then widowed with five young children.
“I took some university courses then. The learning was wonderful,” she said. She married Art Powell, who had one child and kept busy with their family of six and in the church.
“I had a calling to the ministry and others confirmed that I would be able to do it. My husband was very supportive. I could never have done it without his support. At one point there were five of us in the family going to university.”
Powell went to seminary in Vancouver and then did four more years of university while working with inner-city ministries. Her first posting was to Kitimat Village, a small fishing community in Northern B.C. for four years, followed by three years in Vulcan, Alta. She then came to Armstrong for five years and to Vernon for a year before she retired to work full time at McKenzie Camp. She had been involved with the camp in various ways since 1982 when she and her family moved to Enderby.
“Every community is unique and special. I love the people and I still keep in touch with many of them,” she said. “The camp is special because we can see the difference it makes in children’s lives.”
Powell is now active in St. Andrew’s Church in Enderby where she sings in the choir and teaches Sunday School. She is a member of The Shuswap Inclusion Project, which looks at ways of dealing with racism and hate and new kinds of relationships between communities and with First Nations.
She has also been part of residential school alternative dispute resolution where there was evidence for a court case but the parties involved choose this method of resolution.
“All parties talk and listen. It’s a hard, hard thing to hear their stories but it has been an honour and a privilege and really humbling to be part of that,” Powell said, her voice emotional. “This is helping individuals one at a time. Each one of us wants to do what we can do to make a difference in the world. I do these things because I care.”