“Gleanings from a Prairie Pastor” is an e-book collection of rural community memories and writings penned by Joyce Sasse. Through storytelling, the publication reflects on the deep spiritual hunger and rich cultural heritage of our rural communities. Hot off the press, this e-book is available through CiRCLE M, an organization dedicated to rural ministry leadership development.
Joyce Sasse, who currently lives in Pincher Creek, Alberta, is a retired minister in the United Church of Canada.
After being invited by St. Andrew’s (Theological) College in Saskatchewan to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree, Sasse admits she had a bit of a giggle. “After all,” Sasse says, “with me being an 80-year-old spinster, I reckon that the time spent between receiving news of the degree in October 2020 and participating in a virtual convocation in May 2021 is like a nine-month pregnancy. With the actual delivery being this “Gleanings …” eBook!”
It was her nominators who encouraged her to combine her personal lived experiences with stories of many other people about whom she had written over the years. For 14 years her weekly “Spiritual Vignettes” columns were published in the Western Producer. “Country Preacher’s Notes” continues being written for an audience that reaches across Canada’s prairies and around the world. She has touched the hearts of many people and has been described by one of her colleagues as “a way-finder, a scholar and a teacher”.
“Her stories captivate you, entertain you and educate you,” says Catherine Christie, Board Chair of CiRCLe M, who has been a prime force in securing Sasse’s nomination and in enabling the preparation of this collection. “Joyce was a driving force in the founding of CiRCLe M. Her memoirs are deeply personal and clearly expose how key elements of rural culture and rural ministry differ from that of urban centers.”
“Sasse has a very collegial way of inviting people to join her in musing over the questions and ideas she poses,” continues Christie. “One segment of her book, for example, has her listening to how Ancestral Voices from Peoples of the Land speaks to her.”
Another segment is titled Bringing the Embers of Annora Brown’s Story Back to Life. The art, life and legacy of this pioneer South Alberta artist is now being explored by some k-12 students with their teachers.
“Rural church and rural community are a vital part of society,” says Sasse. “Telling our story helps us make sense of our lives. Throughout the book, I invite rural people and communities from around the world to share their understandings about how they can contribute to the Rural Church Movement.”
As a post-script, Sasse includes a few columns under the heading Writings from Crestview Seniors’ Lodge in Covid-19 Times, where she lives now.
CiRCLe M, also known as Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry, was officially incorporated as a charitable, not-for-profit organization in 2007. CiRCLe M is an interdenominational faith-based organization dedicated to rural ministry leadership development. This e-book is available as a free download from circle-m.ca.