Susan Mabey to receive 2017 Craig Chaplin Memorial Award


“A Christian who happens to be a lesbian”, Susan Mabey’s is a name which has been more than incidental in the long struggle for LGBT inclusion in the United Church of Canada.  Cited by the Chaplin Award committee for her recent bridge-building, even as a self-described ‘lightning rod’, as the multi-ethnic Toronto school where she teaches Grade 2 struggled with the new provincially-mandated health and sex education program, Susan drew national attention of  a different kind in the early 1980s when she was refused ordination in the United Church of Canada due to her sexual orientation. (She very quickly established herself as a minister of Christos Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto at a time when the largely-LGBT congregation was beginning to be devastated by AIDS illness and deaths.)

Her 1999 Doctor of Ministry thesis was entitled “When the Valley of the Shadow is Littered with Bones: Ministry in the Midst of Multiple Bereavements”.

The Craig Chaplin Memorial Award was established following the death of my brother in 2007. It is meant to lift up the outstanding vocation of an openly lgbtq person. Susan will be presented with the award as part of the Convocation of United Theological College, in Montreal this May, the tenth anniversary of Craig’s death.

“UTC is honoured to name Rev. Mabey’s long and courageous commitment to justice and inclusion, compassion and vital pastoral presence, and in particular, to the ministry she now lives as a teacher.”

Rev. James “Jamie” Scott will be recognized through the conferring of the degree Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa).  Rev. Scott, the United Church of Canada’s General Council Officer for Residential Schools, will also be the convocation speaker.  The College “recognizes in particular Rev. Scott’s profound commitment to indigenous concerns and his work with the Church in preparation for, and response to, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

UTC’s convocation exercises will be held at Roxboro United Church, 116, rue Cartier in Roxboro, Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 2 pm.  Roxboro is the congregation of Rev. Darryl Macdonald, the second recipient of the Chaplin Award in 2009.

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6 thoughts on “Susan Mabey to receive 2017 Craig Chaplin Memorial Award

  1. Rev. Susan Mabey was my minister at Christos MCC. I am an ordained United Church Minister who also happens to be a lesbian, because of her struggle and sacrifice. I’m so excited to see her receive the recognition she so richly deserves.

  2. It’s so great to say I know both Kenn & Sue with many happy memories on my journey at MCCT. This award couldn’t be given to a better person than Sue.

  3. When I first met Susan Mabey in 1990, I was immediately moved by her gifted preaching and the skill with which she grappled with the hard issues in Scripture and challenged us all with hard questions but somehow always left us with a message of hope and faith. As I got to know her, I was struck by her humility, honesty, playfulness, openness, courage, and integrity. Over the past 25 years I have come to know of people who thanked Susan for having saved their lives years previously, unbeknownst to Susan. I have witnessed her highs and lows, her medical struggles and faith challenges, her laughter (often at herself) her solid and devoted parenting, her outstanding commitment to her students and their families, her unwavering service to fighting injustice, and her refusal to stop loving in a world so often lacking in love. I still don’t understand her ability to feel vibrations in rocks, or her love of cereal for way too many meals, of extra-long naps, of Dr. Hook, or of mixing m ‘n ms with popcorn. And if she were to choose a mantra for her life, it would probably come from Holly Near. But I would choose from Pink’s song, “Try”, because that is what I most see in Susan: her ability to get up every time and try, try, try. She wears her love and concern for the world in her heart and on her sleeve, and she still inspires me with her courage and humility. Her faith journey has been long and true and she is the real thing. I am still moved by her values and honesty, and she continues to help me be a better me. I am blessed to have shared a home and life with her for the past 24 years, and I am so pleased to see her life’s work and worth recognized by this award. Congratulations, my Susan!

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