Folks at First – Norma Holtslander

Life Well Lived

How can God give us meaning and purpose at any stage of our lives?

An interview with Norma Holtslander

Norma has been recommended for ordination by our congregation.
Here is some of her story that she shared with Annabel Robinson…

You can read more of Norma’s story that was included in our April 2019 newsletter.

When did you come to Regina?
While I was in Ecuador my father accepted a call to Hillsdale Alliance Church. I spent my first furlough in Regina. I spoke at missionary conferences in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Oregon and Washington State.

Then I was offered a position at Canadian Bible College/Canadian Theological Seminary. I developed a few CE courses, several spiritual formation courses, and many weekend modules on Spirituality. I was Dean of Students to the College for 7 years and Chaplain/Dean of Students at the Seminary from 1998-2003.

At that time the Alliance church had reservations about women in ministry. What concerns did you have?
It is true that the issue of women in ministry was difficult and I felt thwarted in my desire to serve God in his church. However, I found ways to use my gifts and abilities in spite of that. Not being militant or a fighter by nature enabled me to “seep through the cracks.” First Baptist Church is the first church where I felt totally free to use my gifts of exhortation, encouragement and teaching freely.

When I first knew you, you were Norma Bailey. How did you become a Holtslander?
I met Garth at CBC when I was teaching. I taught all four of his sons. His wife was a CBC graduate, and after she died he decided he wanted to study there himself. In May 1993 we both took a five-day module taught by Gordon Smith and Father Thomas Green on discernment. We used the principles taught in that class (talking to family, significant friends, church leadership) as we were thinking of getting married. By the end of the week we were engaged. We were married in August of that same year. We received nothing but positive input, many saying to us, “You have lived long enough to know if you are going in the right direction.” I wondered if they had ever heard of the phrase, “There is no fool like an old fool.”

The Holtslander family has been gift for me. Even after Garth’s death, they have stuck with me through thick and thin.

God blessed me with a wonderful birth family as well as the gift of the Holtslanders. I am indeed blessed.

And now, as you approach your 80th birthday, you are being ordained. In a nutshell, what does that mean to you?
I believe that as a member of the Body of Christ I am not only a part of the larger Church but I also need to be involved in the life of the Church: worshipping, learning, fellow-shipping, sharing the ordinances, being accountable to Leadership, and when in leadership, accountable to the congregation.

I thoroughly enjoy seeing people develop in their relationship with God. I also like being a part of the spiritual development of individuals. I like to listen to their journeys. I like teaching them about Scripture and how it relates to their lives, encouraging them in difficult times and coming alongside of them as they grow towards God.

Ordination is very meaningful to me. Pragmatically, it adds a seal of authority to my ministry in First Baptist Place. I lead a weekly service there, and I take communion to some people who are shut in. Not all are Baptists, and it means something to them that I will be an ordained minister.

But on a deeper and more personal level it affirms all that I have tried to do and be all my life.

Any final thoughts?
I think laughter, authenticity and my desire to grow in my faith and with friends are things that I hope define me.

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