Special to The Record
Reverend Sulin Milne might not be what you would expect in an Anglican priest.
Her life experiences before her call to ordained ministry shaped and equipped her in a unique way. From being a high-end hand-knitwear designer in the UK, making clothing for the likes of Prince Charles and John Cleese; to renovating old buildings in Wales; to working with drug addicts and alcoholics; to running a project to equip people to acquire skills for life in struggling neighbourhoods; the new rector of St. Peter’s Church in Comox has been up for many of life’s challenges.
Rev. Sulin and three of her children arrived in the Comox Valley from Wales in September. The first of her many visits to Canada was as a nine-year-old and she loved her six weeks in Vancouver so much she returned to the UK with “a slight Canadian accent.”
Being a priest in the Anglican church was far from Sulin’s mind in her younger years. Her exposure to the church as a child was fleeting. Her early experience of the church was not a positive one and she grew up “angry with God.” But being curious, she read a lot, “mainly so I could argue against religion, but God never let go of me.”
Many years later, living in a tiny village in Wales, she came across a small Anglican church and the next Sunday, with three children in tow, she decided to give church a go. Their arrival expanded the congregation from five to nine. What followed was an exploration that quite quickly led to an invitation to consider training to become an ordained priest. With characteristic courage she decided to pursue that path “as long as God led me that way” and that led to three years of studies at St. Michael’s Theological College and at Cardiff University in Wales.
Her first posting as a priest was as “pioneer minister” with the task of relating to people outside the church wherever they happened to be. She started a project called “Re-Creations,” which involved meeting the needs of lower-income families by helping them acquire skills in budget-stretching, up-cycling, repairing and refashioning clothing and other items from thrift stores. The resulting relationships led to some becoming baptized and others being married in the church to which her ministry was attached.
Seven years after graduating with a theological degree she found herself wondering where she would go if she could continue her ministry anywhere and her attention returned to her earliest love for Canada. With the same determination to follow her calling as long as God led her, she applied for the vacancy in St. Peter’s, in Comox.
“I love the fact that St. Peter’s is an extended family, people from diverse backgrounds whose faith walk is very genuine,” she says. “But we need more space because we are almost full and Christianity is contagious. Once you really experience it, you get it, and you will never be the same again.”
A special service will be held in St. Peter’s Church on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. to confirm Rev. Sulin as the minister of St. Peter’s. The service will be led by Bishop Logan McMenamie.