Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Henderson-Bolton

Tell us briefly about yourself, when you graduated from ADC, and where you are located now.


If life is a highway and some people's call to ministry is a straight forward zip down it, mine is more like getting lost on back country roads and hoping that you will eventually stumble upon that tree you think you recognize, and will lead you back out to where you need to be.  That being said I would not have it any other way!  I grew up in Nova Scotia and eventually left to attend St Stephen's University in New Brunswick where I obtained my B.A.  I took some time off after my degree to travel, and while working at Iona Abbey in Scotland, I began to feel a call to ministry.  I decided that Acadia Divinity College was going to be my next step.  The catch was that I am a Presbyterian, and in order to be ordained I would have to do additional work after I graduated.  I was okay with that!  I completed my M.Div. in 2009 and my M.A. in 2010. Then it was on to McGill/Presbyterian College for another year and a half.  I am currently living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with my husband.


Tell us about your current ministry and responsibilities.

I am the Minister of a historic Presbyterian Church in downtown Charlottetown called The Kirk of St. James, serving as the senior minister.  My responsibilities include Sunday worship, pastoral care, teaching (in things like Bible studies, new members classes etc.), I sit on our committees, and I dream; I dream of possibilities, new areas of outreach, events, etc.     


What challenges and opportunities are you facing in ministry right now?

We are located right in the downtown core of the city, which in some ways is a big bonus as we are in walking distance of the church.  That being said, it is not a place where young families settle down.  We have a strong congregation that generally averages between 80-100 but we need to look at reaching out to more people, and diverse age groups.  I am currently doing a community assessment to try and pinpoint some areas where we can do more outreach work.  I would say our other challenge is our building.  It is a very large beautiful stone building, but as with many historic buildings there is a lot of work needed to make things accessible, to update them, and keep them in good working repair, such as the stonework being maintained.  The building even comes with its own ghost story!
They are a fantastic congregation who really care about each other, and look out for one another.  They also have a heart for mission and outreach and started a program called The Kirk at Work.  They host things like a free community thanksgiving dinner open to all.  Through their care and enthusiasm I see a lot of potential as we look to make an even bigger impact on the community.  We are just getting started!  They also have a scholarship program with UPEI so three university students can be part of our choir and receive financial support.  It is a neat program, and unique way to involve people from campus.


As you think back to your ministry training at ADC, what skills and knowledge have you been appreciative of?

Looking back on my time at Acadia I am not sure I can point to any one moment or set of skills, but rather the experience as a whole: living in community, worshipping, learning, and growing.  Not to mention the practical components like SFE or our time spent at the nursing home.  I am thankful for the experience overall as it shaped me and my ministry. 


A number of current and prospective ADC students will be reading this. What advice would you give them?

Ministry is a vast and varied calling.  None of my days ever look the same, and the skills being called on range from emergency pastoral care to cleaning up the basement when it floods in the rain!  But all of it is important work, and good work.  Sometimes in ministry I feel like it is easy to feel like a fraud, or the things facing you are impossible.  The thing that saves me is remembering that none of it is on my strength, but on the one who called me.  Sometimes because of me, and perhaps more likely in spite of me, God works.  It is his grace and mercy that sustains me.  Sometimes it can feel like everything is on your shoulders, and in those moments it is helpful to remember where our strength comes from.


Lastly, is there anything you would like to share that the ADC community could pray for?

My ministry here is still in the early stages, and we are beginning to form a strategic plan that will shape the direction we move in as a congregation.  We would welcome prayer that we make sure we move in the right direction.