Who is Paul Browning?
I am blessed to be married to Sue who is also a United Church minister and a registered psychotherapist with a private practice. We enjoy our family of 3 young adults, two boys and a girl. Since I’m the cook of the family, my favourite pastime is gathering friends and family together over food followed by often uproarious games.
I grew up in Halifax where I experienced the best and worst of religion. Someone once told me that religion is not a problem, just the forms of it that are disrespectful of diversity and rooted in fear and an attempt to control the human spirit.
The stories of Jesus and other captivating stories like David and Goliath were read to me by my mother when I went to bed. I also heard these stories at Sunday school and they gave me a mission in life at the early age of 4. I wanted to be like this Jesus character who was kind to children and women and who stood up for everyone who bullied, even giving his life standing up for fairness, kindness and respect.
However, the churches I attended preached about a supposed loving God who sounded mean and jealous to me. I was told that God was going to punish all the people who didn’t become Christians the way the minister or priest said they should. I’d rather believe in no God than a monster like that.
I got to know amazing people who practised different forms of religion than me. My grade 7 to 9 history teacher Gert Tratt comes to mind. They taught me that what matters is our values and how we act, not the religious form we practice. Which is why I eventually joined the United church.
The United church was very different from my background of worship. It didn’t have the great bands and emotion I enjoyed. But I knew I needed a place that wasn’t based on rules and judgement, just the values of kindness and respect that Jesus lived. I also noticed that United church families were very healthy. Many of the community leaders I met were United church people.
In the United church, I am free to believe as I wish, so long as it leads to love. Questions are encouraged. Kind atheists are preferred over mean Christians. And now that I am a minister, I get to bring some of the music I have always loved into my churches, as well.
Director of Music
Shelly Faris – Vocalist
Richard Miron – Bass
Paul Browning -Keyboard and Vocals
Danielle Andreas- Drummer
Kyle Van Alstyne, Sandy Van Alstyne & Jim Dunlop
Rev. Paul Browning
Minister Emeritus (retired)
Rev. Marilyn Carter
I’d love you to partner with me in building a strong community of kindness. People say they don’t need to go to church to be spiritual and I agree. But as a women who has started attending church again said to me, “I find my week goes better when I’m going to church”. Social science research has discovered that attending a kind church, synagogue or mosque improves both physical and mental health, resulting in members living 2 years longer on average than those who aren’t part of a spiritual community.
I know that I benefit from having a time and place to take my focus off my worries and what I want next as I am reminded of the blessings I already have and of the challenges I’ve already come through. Worship frees me from every day distractions by giving me the opportunity to reflect and focus on what really matters and gives my life meaning.
Being a part of a kind and affirming church also gifts me with a community of people. Its good to have a diverse group of people whose values center on supporting one another and being helpful in the community. Children need to know that lots of people know them and care about them. Knowing God is with them and loves them forever is so reassuring in a world where they hear so many negative and fearful things.
That’s why I feel lucky to minister at Mt Zion. It’s a rare thing to find a church community where diversity is embraced, everyone’s pathway is respected and kindness is always good enough. I would love to get to know you and have the blessing of your presence in our community. Feel free to call or email me or speak to me before church.
Blessings on the Journey.