A long-time volunteer at both her church and in the community, Diane Thurlow has an understanding of what makes Meadow Lake tick. Recently, Diane spoke with Northern Pride about tomorrow’s (March 4) World Day of Prayer, her love for travel and the meaning of community.

Q: What is World Day of Prayer all about?
A: Organized by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC), World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement which brings Christians of many traditions together to observe a common day of prayer each year. It started in 1922 and is observed in 170 different countries, usually on the first Friday in March. Every year a different country is celebrated as part of World Day of Prayer and, this year, it’s Cuba.

Q: What’s happening locally?
A: This year, the local service is being hosted by Grace United Church March 4. We’ve gathered the booklets, as well as leadership guides, from the international committee. We’ll follow what’s in the booklet, but also make it fit for us by choosing our own hymns and whatnot. Some of the other churches in town are also helping with the program and, following the service, we’ll enjoy both lunch and fellowship. It’s a great time for the different churches to come together and it’s an event that’s open to anyone.

Q: How are you involved?
A: I’ve belonged to the United Church Women, the group that helps coordinate this event, for years and, because I took a lay preachers training course, they think I can get up there, organize things and help pull everything together.

Q: Tell me more about the lay preachers training course.
A: It’s a course offered by the United Church to help lay people become familiar with how worship services are put together and to be able to present a message. You learn how to plan the weekly bulletin and to plan worship services. I took the course quite a while ago – probably about 20 years ago – during a time when I liked taking different courses. It sounded interesting and has since proved to be very interesting.

Q: How so?
A: I’ve been able to help out other congregations when they’ve been without a minister. I’ve done services in Meadow Lake, as well as over at the Northern Lakes Pastoral Charge which includes Loon Lake, St. Walburg and Paradise Hill.

Q: Do you still conduct services?
A: No, not anymore because they have regular ministers now. When they have ministers, we back away because we’re only able to lead worship services. We can’t do all the other activities a regular minister does – we just fill in when needed.

Q: What did you enjoy most about conducting services?
A: It was always interesting to find a message I believe in and one I felt the congregation would believe in too. And, I always liked putting the bulletin together and matching any prayers and music with the message I was trying to convey each week.

Q: Obviously the church holds very special meaning to you.
A: I grew up in the United Church, but not here. I’m originally from Lacombe, AB. But, yes, the church has been my life.

Q: Why is church important?
A: Well, I guess it’s mainly about commitment to God because God is everywhere. But, it’s also about commitment to the church family – the people who work together to do things like World Day of Prayer. For me, church has been so important I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Q: Is it disappointing to see churches close, as was the case with the local Anglican church?
A: It is sad to know there are not enough people to keep the building going or to have a full-time minister, but it’s nice to know the two congregations (Anglican and Lutheran) were able to come together and it’s reassuring one minister is able to now lead both congregations. Grace United Church is doing well as far as numbers go, and we have a variety of ages in terms of our congregation. When you don’t have that age range, you don’t have young people who can carry on with the work they find important in the church. It’s hard to give up on the old ways, but change is something that’s always going to happen and it’s nice to have a youthful approach to things sometimes.

Q: When and why did you originally come to Meadow Lake?
A: I came here in the mid-1970s with my first husband, John. He was in the forestry business and, at first, we lived in Prince Albert before moving here when he was working out of Green Lake.

Q: What did you do at the time?
A: When we first came here, one thing that got me going was women’s hockey. I played hockey for a while in a local women’s league and I also became involved with Brownies and Girl Guides. I was a leader at first and later became a commissioner.

Q: How does it make you feel to see Girl Guides return locally?
A: It’s great because some of the leaders who are there now are some of the same Brownies and Guides I knew back in the day. It was also nice to see one of the local Pathfinders, along with her parents, serving meals at the Door of Hope the other day, learning what it’s all about and giving back to her community.

Q: Why is joining Girl Guides beneficial for young people?
A: They get to learn different skills and it’s another way for them to develop friendships with girls who have similar interests.

Q: Aside from the church, what else keeps you busy these days?
A: I do volunteer work at Lakeview Elementary School. Every Tuesday I read with the Grade 2 students. On Thursdays, I serve meals at the Door of Hope and clean up afterward if necessary. I enjoy doing these things for many reasons. Helping children learn to read is very important, while I also help feed people who need to be fed. It’s community, again. It’s all about community.

Q: How has Meadow Lake changed since you first arrived?
A: I came here when they first started to pave the roads. It was also a much smaller community back then. You knew your neighbours a lot more, unlike today where there are so many new faces. I still consider Meadow Lake a town – it still lacks a few of the things it needs to be a city, but we may get there yet. It’s still a great place to live.

Q: Tell me about your family.
A: I was married to my second husband, George, in 1982. He’s a legal aid lawyer. My daughter, Nina Hushagen, is married and lives in Joffre, AB. I also had a son named Lyndon, who was murdered in 1995.

Q: What’s kept you here?
A: We have lots of friends here. We also love the outdoors and the provincial park. I’ve got a great garden in the backyard and so does George. He also has a great job that he really enjoys and the people here are very friendly. There’s lots to do, too – all you need to do is look for it.

Q: What do you grow?
A: In recent years it’s been peas and carrots, but we’ve also grown raspberries, rhubarb and corn, lots of corn. We do it for fun, as well as for food. We also grow an abundance of flowers.

Q: Is there any everyday advice you’ve come to live by?
A: Just live one day at a time and do the things you want to do. If you want to travel, do so while you can.

Q: Do you like traveling?
A: We tend to go on a winter holiday each year. We’ve been to places like Cuba and Trinidad. We’re planning a trip to Alaska and would also like to visit Norway and England.