Honouring Jim and Maureen Campbell on the 60th Anniversary of Ordination

Rev. Dr. Jim Campbell
“You have to watch out for his sense of humour. His eyes sparkle and you know something’s coming!”

Maple Grove United Church recognizes of The Rev. Dr. James and Maureen Campbell on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Jim’s ordination and the beginning of their ministries. 

On the occasion of Rev. Jim Campbell receiving his honorary doctorate, the speech given by Rev. Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Several years ago, I got a phone call from Jim Campbell.  Not a surprise, since we have met for lunch periodically for many years.  But his words were a surprise.  “You need me.” he said.  And suddenly I realized there was a way out of one of the most difficult years of my ministry as we struggled along short-staffed while I was also chair of Halton Presbytery.  Jim has been a mentor, a guide, a wise advisor, an imaginative problem solver and an encouragement to my ministry for 30 years.  He he has been a valued colleague to me, Andy, Revs. Amy, Sam, Miriam, Brenna and to Bobbi-Jo.  He has provided rich pastoral care, wise teaching and preaching, stimulating trips.  While Jim and Maureen are not ones to allow us to make a fuss, we do want to say thank you, for sharing their personal and vocational gifts with us in many ways over the years.

On May 11, 2005, I presented Kenneth James Sporne Campbell at the United Theological College Convocation at McGill University, our alma mater, to receive an honorary doctorate.  Here are my words of presentation:

It is a particular delight to present my friend Kenneth James Sporne Campbell (Jim) to receive an honorary doctorate, to share this celebration with Maureen, his wife of 50 years (married in the Chapel of what was then Divinity Hall), their sons Wesley and Alan, and their granddaughters Christi and Rebecca.

Jim Campbell loves to build towers.  In the town square of Oakville, there is a clock tower which Jim inspired.

In the grounds of St. John’s United Church a few blocks away, there is a bell tower, designed by Jim (using skills of drafting acquired in his teens), that graces a memorial garden.  Church bells ring out in the old town of Oakville reminding folk of the historic Christian faith in the 21st century because of Jim.

At lunch one day, on a napkin, Jim sketched a tower of light for my own church.  As I reflect on his ministry, timeliness, inspiration and light seem appropriate images.

The Clock Tower:  the Times of Jim’s Life

Jim has served the church for half a century as an ordained minister.

He served Clyde Forks, Kingston Presbytery and Union United, St. Luke’s and Cote des Neiges in Montreal Presbytery and that was before he was ordained.

Following ordination, Jim and Maureen served at Fraserville Charge in Peterborough Presbytery where Maureen, a city dweller, like the Samaritan woman, drew and carried water from a well.  After an assistantship at Royal York Road United Church in Toronto, Jim began the task of developing a new church community and building a church which became Parkwoods United Church.  Even while building the congregation, Jim guided a ministry of outreach to youth and single mothers in the community and welcomed a French Roman Catholic Congregation to share their church home.  The foundation that Jim built at Parkwoods is evident in their history of strength.

St. John’s United Church
Jim’s strong pastoral ministry served St. John’s United Church, an historic congregation in Oakville, well for 26 years.  A consistently high degree of excellence in worship leadership and preaching, combined with strong pastoral care, fine administration, and a vision for the future which is still being worked out by the congregation, guided (at the time of the honorary doctorate) by Don Gibson, also a graduate of UTC.

He also guided the congregation in extensive community outreach with the unemployed, community policing, a women’s resource centre, hospital and senior’s residence chaplaincy, and ecumenical endeavours in  Oakville.

Jim established, through the Trustees, Trust Funds to maintain the historic Building, the congregation’s ministry, the Memorial Gardens and the church’s music program.

In his retirement, the congregation of St. John’s honoured Jim with a popular preaching workshop at United Theological College, which ran for many years.

Time Spent in the Wider Community
Halton Presbytery, Hamilton Conference
Always active in the wider church, Jim’s energies have been devoted to causes dear to his heart like refugee placement, evangelism, new ministries, church extension, communication and most recently, the regeneration of congregational life.

During his pastorate at St. John’s, he also served on the bio-ethics and research ethics committees of the Oakville-Trafalgar Hospital, and as president of Oakville Community Homes, a housing complex for people with low incomes and disabilities. His community work extended to a hospice and palliative care centre for cancer patients and the advisory committee on group homes in the area.

35 years a Rotarian, Jim is a three time winner of the Paul Harris Fellowship Award and twice president, among many other roles.

In 1984 Jim’s commitment to the community received well-deserved recognition as the recipient of the Ontario Bicentennial Medal for Community Service.

Retirement Time
Recognizing the sacrifices that Maureen had made, Jim wished her to have a say in how and where they spent their retirement.  He gave Maureen the choice of churches to attend.  With her customary good sense and good taste, Maureen chose our church, knowing she would be able to continue her community commitments with Maycourt. Jim was a great support as I pursued my own doctoral studies.  They have been exemplary parishioners and Jim has continued to share his gifts with us at Maple Grove in preaching, leading worship, pastoral visiting, and mentoring staff.  During that time, Jim also served as retired supply for two pastoral charges.

The Bell Tower: Providing Inspiration
Jim always sought inspiration and has always been inspiring.  He read widely, to learn from colleagues, and pursued opportunities for continuing education in Canada, the US and England and educates others with the popular tours that he and Maureen lead.

Jim is an imaginative preacher – with solid and deep biblical and historical resources to build a strong preaching tradition on.  He has content as well as style!

“Your young men shall see visions; your old men shall dream dreams.”  I always think of Jim as the youngest thinker of our presbytery.  He still ‘dreams dreams’.  Using his powers of reflection, grounded in a deep understanding of scripture and careful study of the historic church, Jim continues to think into the future.  His love of the church is evident in his blood pressure, which rises when presbyters refuse to look beyond the present and their own concerns to the future of the church.  For his part, he continues to think ‘outside of the box’, sharing his creative ideas for starting new churches and renewing stagnant ones.

Always a prophetic voice in the wider church, Jim’s voice has not always been heeded.  Having been in Halton Presbytery for over 30 years, however, all of his unheeded prophecies have been proven true.  Yet he refuses to gloat.

Jim is an uninhibited story teller:  great for sermons, but most effective with the children.  In retirement, his granddaughter took him to school for show and tell and he became a regular story teller.  His ability to translate theology, ethics and moral philosophy for a secular audience keeps him writing monthly columns for two widely distributed publications. His Christmas children’s book, Jericho, is a perennial favourite and has been produced as a musical.

Jim’s love, passion and vision for the church have inspired countless congregants, eight candidates for ministry, and many of his colleagues.  He supported many ministers in our presbytery, gathering us together regularly, encouraging St. John’s to offer Clergy Days to inspire us.

You have to watch out for his sense of humour.  His eyes sparkle and you know something’s coming!

A Tower of Light
Jim’s cohort in regenerating congregational ministry, Lucien Perras, tells me there is an old French saying: “Dis-moi qui tu hantes, je te dirai qui tu es.”

Those we honour here tonight are reflections of the values the college holds most dear.  In embodying Christian values, scholarship and dedication to the welfare of God’s church, a church which he has served faithfully all his life, James Campbell is just such a reflection of the values of the United Theological College, and the two renowned institutions to which the College is affiliated, l’Universite de Montreal and McGill University.

Devoted servant of Christ, faithful pastor and presbyter of The United Church of Canada, esteemed colleague and friend, Mr. Principal, I present  Kenneth James Sporne Campbell to receive the degree of Doctor of Divinity Honoris Causa.

The Rev. Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes
May 28, 2017
60th Anniversary of Maple Grove United Church