Skip to content

Our Clergy

 

Rector

The Rev’d Matthew Kieswetter

Greetings to all who have found their way to the virtual home of St. Andrew’s, Kitchener! I’ve been part of the St. Andrew’s community for only a short time, but I can tell you that the people here are incredibly warm, welcoming, and interesting. Resilient is a word I’ve heard a few times, too! Presumably some folks both from within and beyond our congregation will want to know a bit about me. So see below for the transcript of an interview I conducted with myself.

You’re the new priest at St. Andrew’s — how did you get here?
OK, well let’s start somewhere in the middle, and then work outward from there. If we’re talking about my preparation for ordained ministry, I’m a recent graduate of Trinity College, which is part of the University of Toronto. Before that I managed a store where we bought and sold used CDs, movies, and games. And kind of in between those two periods in my life I took a few classes at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, to get my feet a little wet before quitting my job and pursuing theological education full-time.

So are you from Toronto or Waterloo?
Neither. I live in Kitchener, with my wife Leslie, and our wonderful cat Alice. But for most of my life I lived in Waterloo.

Alice, that’s a weird name for a cat.
Technically she thinks her name is “Monkey,” because that’s what we call her. But I suppose her birth certificate says “Alice.”

Alice, after the housekeeper from The Brady Bunch?
No! (Though Leslie has a strange interest in The Brady Bunch.) Leslie will tell you that she’s named after Alice in Wonderland. But in my head she is actually named after the song “Alice” by The Sisters of Mercy, or maybe the one by Tom Waits. Both are good, in different ways. But I sense we’ve gotten off track.

Maybe not entirely. Do you bring her to the church office with you?
Sadly, not yet. But I’m hoping to in the future, once in a while. Then we can expand this cat portion of the interview.

So you were trained in Toronto? But that’s a whole other diocese from Huron. Is that even allowed?
Yes, it’s allowed. I was always sponsored by The Diocese of Huron, but I chose to study at Trinity College. The thing that I really appreciated about Trinity was that they encouraged me to take classes all over the Toronto School of Theology. You see, there are seven church-affiliated colleges that make up the Toronto School of Theology, which is within the U of T. So I started out several years ago at a Lutheran Seminary, then moved to an Anglican one, but got to take classes at institutions representing a variety of Christian traditions. It was really enriching, and great to meet people from different denominations, and to grow together with them. It was not unlike my experience as an undergrad, in religious studies at the University of Waterloo, where I was a Renison University College student, but had classes on the main campus and at the various church-affiliated colleges.

Ah! So UW was before the music store?
Yes. And that was a great experience, too. So, UW, then the music store, then on to my theological training from there. And part of my training was a variety of field education placements: St. Columba’s in Waterloo, Brantford Regional Anglican Ministries, and the Lutheran and Anglican Ministries of the Bruce Peninsula. And my hospital training was split between Cambridge Memorial Hospital and the Freeport campus of Grand River Hospital. And all through this time I was involved in the life of The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Kitchener.

And before all this?
Hmmm, that’s a big question. I guess I can pick out a few highlights. As a teenager I worked at an apple farm, and at the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market. Maybe that helps me with all the agricultural imagery in the parables… As an adolescent my parish priest suggested that I keep my heart and mind open to the possibility of having a call to the priesthood.

So that sounds like an important moment.
I suppose so, yes. That sense was always with me. Sometimes I pushed it off, but I always had the sense that I’d end up doing what I’m fortunate to be doing now! But it’s not like I was just on cruise control from my teens to the present.

What else helped you along the way?
I’ve got great friends and family, and their support and unconditional love has been crucial, no doubt. But apart from that, one of my biggest guides along the way has been (and continues to be) Thomas Merton, a really fascinating monk and writer from the twentieth century. I remember as a teenager attending a lecture given by Michael Higgins on Merton’s life. It was through that that I found a person and a ‘niche’ in the Church to which I could relate. It was like finally finding a home within the Church.

So if you love Merton so much, why not become a monk?
Actually, for a time I was very open to this. Through that discernment I became an associate of The Order of the Holy Cross, which is a religious order within the Anglican Church. Being an associate is like having an official connection with a religious order, and living by what’s called a ‘rule of life’ that one can manage out in the world.

You talked about finding a home within the Church. A lot of people are suspicious of the Church, or institutions in general. What, to you, does it mean to be a Christian?
I suppose I’d begin with baptism as a starting point, because that represents our ‘birth’ as Christians. To be baptized is to symbolically die with Jesus — to our old, destructive ways — and to be reborn in his resurrection. So for me, to be Christian is to witness to the power of life and love over death and dehumanization. Another of my heroes, William Stringfellow, had a lot to say about that, and I couldn’t recommend his books more highly.

I’d also have to say something about the Incarnation: our belief in God coming into the world as a human being. This is something that continually strikes me as profound beyond measure — that our God could be so humble and compassionate as to come and experience life as we do, including the terrible bits. And the natural human response to this? Crucifixion. Which is to say, death and dehumanization. But God shows us that this isn’t the last word.

So if that is what’s important to you in Christianity, why bother with the Church?
Well, first of all, I’m not here to judge or criticize anyone’s position vis-a-vis the Church. But for all the Church’s failings throughout history, I can’t get away from a few realities. Namely, that Jesus founded a community, rather than isolated individuals. We live in a culture that worships individualism and consumerism. But my faith tells me that I’m not all on my own; that I’m part of something bigger than myself. And part of that is living among real, fallible human beings, and learning to support one another. If Christianity has to do with reconciliation, then the Church should be embodying this reality.

And secondly, while we believe that God is One, we also believe that God, in God’s very being, is Triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God in God’s self is a community of self-giving love. And that can teach us something about our lives as social beings here on earth.

And why Anglican?
As I mentioned earlier, my education took place in an ecumenical context, and I value that. My Anglicanism doesn’t necessarily represent a rejection of other ways. That being said, I think the Anglican Church has lots to offer. I really value our sense of tradition and continuity — being connected with the early Church in a tangible, but also vital (rather than nostalgic), way. But we also went through the Reformation of the 16th century: we are not above healthy and necessary self-critique. And we have a value of human reason; you don’t have to check your brain at the door.

And a really interesting aspect of Anglicanism is that since it comes out of the Church of England’s experience during the Reformation, it was designed to accommodate and embrace a whole people, a whole country. So Anglicanism is decidedly a ‘big tent’ in which people of various aesthetic and liturgical likes/dislikes and theological persuasions can find a home, more often than not.

And beyond this big tent home of yours, what do you like to do?
After my busy theological training (and the back-and-forth between here and Toronto), I’m enjoying the development of more regular routines, and I’m rediscovering some hobbies. Given my retail background, I love music, movies, and pop culture. So naturally, I love libraries, and I’m fortunate to have great public and university libraries here in KW, not to mention great bookstores. I enjoy hanging out in coffee shops, and reading the New York Times — perhaps imagining myself living there (in New York, not the coffee shop).

Given my interest in movies, I like going to the cinema, especially small independent ones that show interesting features. I should also note my love of the BBC’s flagship film program, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review (and hello to Jason Isaacs).

Wow, thanks for all this background, Matt.
Thank you, Matt!

Any parting words?
How about this, from William Stringfellow:
     In the face of death, live humanly.
     In the middle of chaos, celebrate the Word.
     Amidst Babel, speak the truth.
     Confront the noise and verbiage and falsehood of death
     with the truth and potency and efficacy
     of the Word of God.


Honorary Assistant Priest

The Rev. Dr. Gerry Mueller

gmuellerGerry is a retired priest, and has been associated with St. Andrew’s since early 2007. Educated as a chemical engineer in his first life (B.A.Sc., RMC & Waterloo, 1966; M.Sc. & Ph.D., Manchester, 1967 & 1969), he was an engineering educator, researcher, and academic administrator for 19 years (mostly at University of Waterloo). In 1984 he began part-time (and later full-time) theological studies at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and the Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, in the Toronto School of Theology, graduating with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He was ordained Deacon in May 1988, and Priest in November 1988.

Gerry served parishes in Cambridge (St. Luke’s, 1988 – 1991), Mississauga (St. Francis of Assisi-Meadowvale – a campus church with Lutheran and Presbyterian partners, 1991 – 1996), and Scarborough (Christ Church-Scarborough Village, 1997 – 2001). He served as Chaplain to the Layreaders of the Diocese of Huron, and in the Diocese of Toronto as a member of the York-Scarborough Bishop’s Council, and on the Diocesan Planning and Development Board. In September 2001 he returned to the academy as Chaplain of Renison University College and Incumbent of St. Bede’s Chapel, Anglican Chaplain to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, and Lecturer in Religious Studies, teaching Anglican History and Thought, thus neatly combining his two vocational loves – teaching and the Church. He retired from Renison University College in August 2006.

Since retiring, Gerry has continued involvement with the governance of Trinity College (Corporation, Senate, and Divinity Faculty Council) and the work of the Trinity College Divinity Associates, mainly in their annual conference planning. He continues to serve on the Development Committee of Renison University College. and has served for six years on the Board of the Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries, a missions think-tank and resource that is ecumenically funded. And, he and spouse June Longworth enjoy frequent travel, trying to visit the 1001 places to visit before you die, before the time is up.

Since early in 2014, Gerry is the Webmaster of this site; please direct comments and suggestions to him.

And, Gerry and June think that St. Andrew’s is a great parish community, with great people, and consider themselves lucky to be a part of it.


Parish Deacon

The Rev. Kay Baxter

My husband John and I moved to Kitchener in 2011 after living most of our lives in the Niagara Peninsula. We quickly discovered St. Andrew’s and became active members.

In 1998 I began the study of theology through Montreal Diocesan College at McGill University. In 2002 I discovered working with people rather than books was where I was called to be and enrolled at McMaster Divinity College in the field of Christian Studies and Pastoral Counselling. I remained there, part time for the next four years.
I was ordained as a Vocational Deacon in March 2004 at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, Diocese of Niagara, and ministered to the people of St. Martin’s Church in Niagara Falls until it closed its doors. In the spring of 2013, I renewed my commitment in the Diocese of Huron and to St. Andrew’s. I enjoy all aspects of a Deacon’s responsibilities, centering on outreach and home visits.

John and I enjoy our two adult children and their families (three grandchildren light up our lives).


  • St. Andrew’s Church (neigbourhood)

    Click to open a larger map

    Click map for larger, navigable version

  • St. Andrew’s Church (greater Kitchener)

    Click to open a larger map

    Click map for larger, navigable version