Rev. Shawn Newton, Senior Minister
The Reverend Shawn Newton became the 23rd minister of First Unitarian in September 2007.
He began his undergraduate studies in the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College, eventually completed a bachelor degree in religious studies at Harvard's Extension School, and later received a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry at the University of Toronto/Toronto School of Theology.
In the course of his preparation for ministry, Shawn served five different congregations, including the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas; Arlington Street Church in Boston, where he was administrator; the Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts, as a student minister; the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Ohio, as the Killam Fellow; and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley, as Assistant Minister. Shawn's clinical pastoral education was undertaken at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Shawn loves to travel, to take in theatre and classical music, and to explore, with his husband, Bob, the fascinating array of neighbourhoods in Toronto.
On Sunday April 23, 2017 we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our congregation unanimously calling Shawn Newton as our Minister. At this joyous service there was a Recovenanting ceremony between Shawn and the congregation, followed by a party with great food and special tributes. Shawn was given a “memory book” containing thoughts, memories, pictures and greetings chronicling his time with us, and he was also presented with a Gift Certificate for a new pulpit. He and Bob gifted the congregation with a beautiful new singing bowl.
Rev. Lynn Harrison, Minister of Community Engagement
In August, 2016 the Reverend Lynn Harrison joined the ministry team at First Unitarian as our part-time Minister of Community Engagement.
Lynn was ordained in November, 2015 by Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, after completing her Master of Divinity Studies at Emmanuel College (Toronto School of Theology) in May of that year. In preparation for ministry, Lynn served as our Intern Minister in 2013-14, completed her clinical pastoral education at Bridgepoint Health and served as a spiritual care intern for Hospice Toronto.
A longtime resident of Toronto with her husband, David, and two young adult children, Lynn is also a recognized singer-songwriter who has received national airplay and earned honours from the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals (now Folk Music Ontario). She holds an undergraduate degree in broadcasting from Ryerson, bringing strong communication and outreach skills to her new position as our Minister of Community Engagement.
Rev. Lynn is also the creator and facilitator of The Bridge: Connecting Song and Spirit, a new Unitarian ministry initiative that celebrates the connection between creativity and spirituality in an inclusive “open mic” environment. The Bridge takes place once a month in a downtown music venue, attracting a wide range of participants from First Unitarian and many other communities.
Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister
“I am very pleased to be returning to the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto this summer, after serving as intern minister in 2014-15, and again as summer minister in 2018. I am currently completing the final stages of training for Unitarian Universalist ministry, learning about spiritual care while working in a hospice setting.
“I live in Hamilton with my partner Rev. Carly Gaylor and my son Darragh, and will be at First Unitarian most Sundays during the summer, as well as available for pastoral care.
“I look forward to being with you all again.”