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Moderator-elect Mardi Tindal acknowledges an ovation from General Council commissioners Friday in Kelowna, B.C. Photo by Mike Milne

Mardi Tindal elected new United Church moderator (Friday, Aug. 14, 2009)

By Mike Milne

An Ontario lay woman with a background in adult education, church camping, communications and leadership development is the new moderator of The United Church of Canada.

Mardi Tindal, 56, currently executive director of the Five Oaks Centre near Paris, Ont., was elected Friday at the church’s General Council meeting in Kelowna, B.C. The meeting, held every three years, decides church policy and selects a new spiritual leader for Canada’s largest Protestant denomination. Tindal is the fourth lay person and the fifth woman to hold that position in the church’s 84-year history.

Tindal’s acceptance speech – thanking her seven fellow candidates plus family, mentors and colleagues — laid the groundwork for leadership built around  personal spirituality, polite but righteous truth-telling and care for God’s beleaguered creation.  Quoting Scripture from Ephesians, she reminded church people that they need to speak truth and avoid “evil talk,” while building up one another. Tindal told the group that “malice and bitterness are not completely unknown to us and this passage is always good advice.”

Tindal has a long history of working on environmental issues. In interviews following her election, Tindal promised to continue that work with “enabling leadership” by “inviting the church to imagine new ways of caring for creation and lifting up some of the ways members have already committed themselves to it. . . . Because the healing of creation is so desperately needed.”

Tindal is perhaps best-known in the United Chirch as former co-host of the now-defunct United Church television series, Spirit Connection, alongside Very Rev. Bruce McLeod and Rev. Ken Gallinger. She has also worked on youth ministry, leadership, communications and stewardship on General Council and Hamilton Conference staff. She was also director of York Presbytery’s Camp Big Canoe.

Mother of two sons, Alex and Chris, Tindal is married to communications consultant Doug Tindal. She will be installed as moderator Saturday, Aug. 15, during closing worship of the General Council meeting.

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