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GTU Alum Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne Elected 44th United Church of Canada Moderator—First Indigenous Woman to Lead Church

GTU Alum Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne Elected 44th United Church of Canada Moderator—First Indigenous Woman to Lead Church

BERKELEY, CA – July 25, 2022 – The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is pleased to celebrate that GTU alum Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne (PhD, 2016) has been elected the United Church of Canada’s (UCC) 44th Moderator. As Moderator, Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne will serve as the United Church of Canada’s spiritual leader for the next three years. 

Born in Alert Bay, British Columbia and a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, the Rev. Dr. Lansdowne is only the second Indigenous person to be elected the United Church of Canada’s Moderator, and the first Indigenous woman. She is committed to an Indigenous way of being in the world. 

“The entire GTU community and I celebrate the Indigenous representation and leadership that this election signifies,” said GTU President Uriah Kim. “Dr. Lansdowne offers a vision of leadership that envisions creation care and human dignity working hand-in-hand. All of us at the GTU are proud of this achievement, and we look forward to celebrating the many accomplishments to come under her leadership.” 

In articulating her vision for The United Church of Canada, the Rev. Dr. Lansdowne writes: “My vision for The United Church of Canada is that together we can work to continue to define who we are. To build new connections and rebuild old ones. To work towards social change that sees a world cared for, and human dignity honoured. To walk together every day in repentance and reconciliation. To march and fight and change unjust systems together. To pray together. To sing together. To discern together. Because truly we are not alone. We live in God’s world.” 

Ordained by the United Church of Canada, a denomination shaped by Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism, the Rev. Dr. Lansdowne graduated from the Vancouver School of Theology (VST) in 2007 with a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Theology degree in 2011. Dr. Lansdowne later moved to Berkeley, California, where she commenced coursework for a PhD at the Graduate Theological Union. At the GTU, Dr. Lansdowne’s studies focused on indigenous epistemologies, or ways of knowing, and Christian missiology. 

“I came to the GTU because I wanted to study mission and explore an indigenous perspective in a context that represented the mainline Protestant tradition I came from,” Dr. Lansdowne said in an article published by GTU News in 2009. “The GTU’s Interdisciplinary Studies program was a perfect fit for me.” 

The Rev. Carmen Lansdowne is also called Kwisa’lakw by one of the aboriginal peoples of Canada’s central northwest coast. Given her by tribal elders at a ceremonial potlatch, the name means “woman who travels far,” acknowledging her globetrotting work. In addition to her theological contributions as a writer and speaker, Dr. Lansdowne has served the church in a variety of roles locally, nationally, and with the World Council of Churches (WCC). From 2006–2013, Dr. Lansdowne served on the Executive and Central Committees of the World Council of Churches, representing 560 million Christians in 110 countries and territories, as well as serving as an ex-officio corresponding member of the Executive, General Council. Dr. Lansdowne joined First United Church Community Ministry Society in Vancouver as Executive Director in February 2017.

The United Church of Canada's General Council 44 will install Dr. Lansdowne as the new Moderator at its closing worship service on August 7, 2022. This worship service will be livestreamed by the United Church of Canada, with an in-person event held at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver at 1:00 pm (PT).