Ministry Leadership

Ministry Leadership

Rev. Debra Bowman – Coordinating Minister







Rev. Richard Bott – Congregational Development Minister


Having served with congregations in Ontario and BC, Richard comes to Dunbar Ryerson United Church with 23 years of experience as an ordained minister in The United Church of Canada. With training and background in developing faith-based small groups, as well as being a writer for and facilitator of a number of United Church discipleship and stewardship programs, he is excited about helping the congregation to grow, both in its faith in God – Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit – and through invitation to others to participate in this journey on the Way!

So, what does a “Congregational Development Minister” do?

Think of me as part of the church’s Research & Development department! I get to come up and implement with ways of helping people already part of Dunbar Ryerson United Church, and people who are not yet part of this community of faith to enter into and deepen their relationship with God through Jesus.
I’m responsible for:
– finding ways of developing a sustainable congregation-wide small group ministry;
– developing and implementing programs and practices that lead people more deeply into their Christian discipleship, including helping people understand their spiritual and practical gifts, and to develop their leadership and facilitation gifts. (As part of that, that development of stewardship as a lived spiritual practice is part of my portfolio!)
– developing new (and additional) expressions of worship outside of Sunday morning, especially ones that are inviting to those not currently connected to a faith community, as well as growing The Open House – Dunbar Ryerson midweek congregation;
– supporting the work of a fantastic ministry team, a wonderful staff team and with the Spiritual Nurture and Outreach committees – taking direction from the Coordinating Minister for my participation in Sunday Morning worship and other parts of our church life.

I’m excited about the possibilities God has placed into our lives together!

Kathleen Barber – Community Life and Pastoral Care Minister

Kathleen was a member of Ryerson United Church for 30 years before she heeded the call to paid, accountable ministry and began her studies at Vancouver School of Theology. After recognition as a Designated Lay Minister in 2016 she continued in Ministry at Ryerson, now Dunbar Ryerson United Church. Her training and inclination have lead her to ministries of pastoral care, developing a small group ministry in spiritual deepening and in theological expression through liturgical arts.

What does a Community Life and Pastoral Care Minister do?

Responsiveness to our community is central to my work as we all live into Jesus’ call to love and serve our neighbour. This position is present to most aspects of the daily life of the congregation.  These include the welcoming, healing, community building, intercultural ministries and working with others to create a team of pastoral visitors for our new congregation. Building and overseeing congregational celebrations is certainly part of the job.  All these parts work together to create a community where radical welcome and joy is key to our life together.

Cathy Cryder – Minister with Children, Youth and Families


Cathy found her way to the United Church in 1984 through the camping ministry. Captivated and compelled by the theology, vision and mission of the United Church, she became a volunteer in youth and young adult ministry at the congregational, conference and national levels. Cathy worked as the Fraser Presbytery Minister with Youth and Young Adults and the CGIT Provincial Resource Coordinator. In the early 1990’s Cathy worked for various school boards counselling, teaching and supporting children and youth with severe behaviour disorders. While living in Port Hardy, in the early ‘90’s, she taught a grade 5,6,7 class at the Gwa’Sala ‘Nakwaxda’xw Band School. She also worked part time as a Youth Treatment Worker and Young Parent’s Support Counsellor for the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre. In Victoria, Cathy was employed as Youth Counsellor with the Summit Program, an alternate program that incorporated outdoor education as a means of treatment for severe behavioural challenges.  In 1996, Cathy was drawn back to the United Church when she was appointed as Minister with Children, Youth and Families at Shaughnessy Heights United Church where she worked for 8 years.  Since 2004, Cathy has been a part of the ministry staff at Dunbar Heights United Church.

So, what does a Minister with Children, Youth and Families do?

Collaborate, integrate, create, celebrate and motivate… these are just a few of the words that emerge in the quest to define the role of Minister with Children, Youth and Families. Together with an extraordinary team of volunteer and paid leaders we strive to build space and relationships that declare, “Children and youth have an important place in the heart of this community.”

We teach children the language of our faith—the language of story, ritual and symbol… the language of space, community and relationship… the language of silence—we give children the tools they need to participate fully in the conversation and call of our church. We also equip children and youth with valuable tools to go out into the world and make a difference.

We support families in their quest to raise children that live lives infused with faith, compassion, meaning, hope, wonder and resolve.

We help people of all ages remember what it feels like to play, to be wise like a child and to be attentive to the divine in the complex and simple things in life.

We enrich the present and inspire hope for the future of our church and the world.

This is rich and rewarding work! I am exited about the opportunity and the abundant resources provided to explore, to lead and to live into Jesus’ call to, “…become like children.”

Rev. Dr. Brian Thorpe – Pastoral Care Minister


Brian Thorpe grew up in Saskatoon and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and St. Andrew’s College.  Following graduate work at Union Seminary in New York, he was in ministry in Saskatchewan in Gravelbourg and as a chaplain at the University of Saskatchwan.

He then completed a PhD at McGill University in Montreal.

In 1980 he moved to Vancouver where he served three different congregations.  In 1994 he became the Executive Secretary of the British Columbia Conference.  During that time the church’s response to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools System became one of the most critical issues facing the church.  In 2000 the General Council of the United Church asked Brian to work exclusively in this area.  One of the primary foci of this work involved the development, in partnership with survivors of residential schools and the Canadian government, of an alternate dispute resolution project in the Gitxsan Nation in northern British Columbia.

Since 2005 Brian has served as a minister at Ryerson United Church in Vancouver.  He has also taught at the Vancouver School of Theology and is currently the Chair of the First United Church Community Ministry Society on the downtown east side of Vancouver.

What does a Pastoral Care Minister Do?

 The Pastoral Care Minister works with the ministerial team to insure that no one is forgotten in our community in transition.  In particular the Pastoral Care Minister enters into a ministry of conversation and prayer with those who are housebound, those in care facilities and those carrying a burden of illness or grief.

The Pastoral Care Minister works with and reports to the Minister of Community Life and Pastoral Care to identify and prioritize pastoral care needs in the congregation.

The Pastoral Care Minister works with a team of volunteer pastoral visitors to develop a network of caring relationships with all members and adherents of the congregation.

The Pastoral Care Minister exercises a ministry in which no phone call or visit is an interruption in a busy schedule but which is, rather, the center of the ministry itself.


Dr. Greg Caisley – Co-Director of Music


An accomplished pianist, collaborator, director and music educator, Dr. Greg Caisley has worked throughout Western Canada for the past 30 years. His responsibilities as Co-Director of Music for Dunbar Ryerson United Church are focused on “helping people to become the best they can be through learning and sharing sacred music.” To this end, he is responsible for the development of the Pneuma Voices children and youth choir, the ________ Choir and Chamber Orchestra, and the music for the mid-week services. He comes into this role with an entrepreneurial and experimental spirit – ready to see what Dunbar Ryerson United Church can grow.





Bryn Nixon – Co-Director of Music