It is with deep sadness that the death of the Rev. Dianne Ollerenshaw on July 1, 2021 is announced.
Almost a year ago, Dianne was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. She shared her diagnosis and journey with very few people. Pastoral care was provided to Dianne and those of us who have known about her illness have respected her wish for privacy.
With her on that journey was God as she had come to know God in Jesus Christ—a knowledge enriched by the relationships she shared with so many people throughout her faithful and varied ministries in Canada and throughout the world. For Dianne, the relationships she made in her work with the Indigenous communities of Alberta and beyond Alberta across Canada have been very significant and precious in her life’s journey.
Also with her, every step along the journey, was her life-long companion and dearest friend, Bruce as well as sons Keith (Caroni ) and Christopher (Virginie) and granddaughter Evelyn.
We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of our friend and colleague, Dianne.
There will be a private family service planned.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, says the Spirit. They rest from their labours and their works follow them.”
Minute of Appreciation for the Rev. Dianne Ollerenshaw
—from the minutes of the Presbytery of Calgary-Macleod at the time of Dianne’s retirement in January 20, 2021.
The Rev. Dianne (McLean) Ollerenshaw has served Jesus Christ as a Minister of Word and Sacrament within the Presbyterian Church in Canada for 37 years. Dianne has been a member of the Presbytery of Calgary-Macleod for 34 years and we give thanks to God for her faithful ministry here, within the Synod of Alberta and the Northwest, and in many facets of the denomination. Dianne’s ministry and personal life have been rooted in prayer and in a deeply personal relationship with God as she has come to know and experience God in Jesus Christ—the Word (Logos) made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.
Following graduation from Knox College, Dianne was appointed as the Ordained Missionary to the pastoral charge of Lakefield, Ontario. In 1987, she was called to be minister of Valleyview Presbyterian Church in Calgary. Valleyview had a small building, with an attached Atco trailer, on the corner of 17th Ave and 69th Street, and a large vision of a new church home that would serve the growing community on the western edge of the city. Dianne ably fulfilled all ministerial responsibilities, and in addition, she led the project of finding a site, stewardship development, and negotiating the land purchase. She was instrumental in the design of the beautiful and useful church building that is surrounded by nature and views of the Rocky Mountains. From the sanctuary, worshippers can see both the urban landscape and the intricacies of nature. Dianne led the congregation in the transition to its new church home and continued to nurture the work of new church development at Valleyview.
In 2005, Dianne accepted the position of Director of Regional Ministries for the Synod of Alberta and the Northwest. The Rev. Charlie McNeil, Convener of the Synod Regional Staffing Council, shared the following, “The Rev. Dianne Ollerenshaw gifted the Synod, presbyteries, congregations, presbyters, and the saints with significant and gracious offerings. Dianne’s oversight, friendship, and mentoring is remembered with gratitude and love. In whatever context Dianne entered, she brought expertise, wisdom, and warmth. Both personally and as a co-worker in the kingdom I pray for God’s blessing upon Dianne, Bruce, and the family!”
Many Synod colleagues have extended their best wishes and will be shared at the next Synod meeting.
Dianne has a deep commitment to creating and nurturing relationships with Indigenous people. The ministry of truth telling, healing and reconciliation reaches back before many of us were aware of our Church’s part in Canada’s betrayal of indigenous peoples. In this ministry she gained the friendship and respect of all those with whom she worked, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, among them people like Marie Wilson who became one of the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dianne defined her work as “supporting congregations from Medicine Hat to Fort St. John in Treaties 7, 6 and 8.” Dianne has been active in supporting truth and reconciliation initiatives and often represented the Presbyterian Church in Canada at consultations. Her commitment to justice, grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ, has infused her practice of ministry. Dianne’s ministry focused on vulnerable people. She is a compassionate ally and a prophetic advocate in ministries of justice.
Dianne has a deep sense of “church”—all God’s people. That is seen in her commitment to and her work within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Over the years, Dianne has served on many committees and boards of the General Assembly including International Affairs, Presbyterian World Service & Development, Canadian Ministries, Special Committee on Sexual Orientation. Dianne travelled internationally on behalf of the denomination sharing in ministry with partners in Taiwan, India, and the United States. She was in Africa twice, spending time with people in Kenya. On her return to Canada, she was a tireless educator and advocate in support of providing healthcare and relief for those suffering with HIV/AIDS. She has served as a Coach for Cyclical, and a seasoned leader for New Church Development for many years.
For Dianne, the church is so much more than just the PCC. Her commitment to ecumenism as an expression of Christian unity, and her involvement in multi-faith work led her to deep and dear relationships with other people of faith. Dianne has been a participant in the L’arche Community, Kairos, poverty reduction initiatives, and Interfaith associations. Dianne’s spirituality, which is rooted in the incarnation, was seen in all her ministry but nowhere more so than in her deep commitment to justice.
Within the presbytery, Dianne took on many leadership responsibilities. She served as Moderator, convened numerous standing and special committees. Dianne fulfilled the role of Interim Moderator at Westminster, Varsity Acres, St Giles, Centennial, Calvin and St. Andrew’s. She provided education and training for elders, ministers and lay people on a variety of topics in ministry. Her keen intellect and her desire to be a resource for faithful ministry equipped her to be a valuable resource for congregations and presbyters.
Dianne’s wisdom and experience is sought out by ministers, elders and members of congregations who know her to be a trustworthy and faithful minister of the gospel. Her sense of humour and her courage to speak the truth in love has made her an extraordinary leader in the church.
Dianne is the sister of the Rev. Dr. Paul McLean. Dianne’s greatest support is her family—her husband, Bruce Ollerenshaw, sons Keith (Caroni) and Christopher (Virginie) and granddaughter Evelyn.
The Rev. Dianne Ollerenshaw has been a faithful Teaching Elder, presbyter and friend. Thanks be to God for the ministry of Dianne in our midst.