"Every day is a different ex­perience and a different blessing," says Val Waldron of Walton United in Oakville, Ont. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

Topics: Ethical Living, October/November 2023 | Religion

Portraits of church administrators capture congregations’ unsung heroes

A behind-the-scenes look at the staff who make the church work


Welcome to the peek behind the scenes at two churches in Oakville, Ont.: Walton United and Knox Presbyterian. Their church administrative staff granted us – a photographer and a writer – a glimpse into their little-known work lives.

Not for them, the stereotype of prim invisibility. Instead, they reveal a collaborative work style brimming with joy. Fulfilling their paid positions is only a fraction of how these staff support the congregations. Their work reminds us of the impulse behind an Israeli kibbutz, that world-­famous example of community-­building.

Here’s how Alison King, administration, facilities and Sunday School co­ordinator at Walton, puts it: “Our job isn’t just to take care of the congregation. The church is a vital part of our local community.”

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No task is too small. These administrators answer the phone, pay the bills, pop out for extra paper plates for unexpected buffet guests, rent out the church hall, edit sermons, stock fridges, support social justice programs and manage volunteers. But they also take on much more. Connie Wardle at Knox serves on the team overseeing a $5­ million church revitalization project.

“I feel very appreciated by the congrega­tion and by the rest of the ministry team,” Wardle says. “Feeling loved and supported goes a long way. Plus, I feel like I’m serving something greater than myself.”

Hidden away in cabinets and behind closed doors you can find the fundamentals of congregational life at Knox: the prosaic, the quizzical and the sublime. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

A backstage tour hints at some of the adventure. Trail behind the keeper of the keys through a passageway of old and new architec­ture and you can’t help but fill with wonder. Both of these churches date back more than 100 years with original hand­-carved beams — yet Knox features gender-­neutral washrooms and an elevator, and Walton has a freshly renovated commercial kitchen.

Cupboards take you even deeper into the mysteries. They are cabinets of curiosities stuffed to the brim with bits and pieces to feed, educate, craft and celebrate. Here are spools of colourful ribbon, a felt Jesus puppet and, to no one’s surprise, coffee supplies beyond counting.

These are the makings of living, breathing community ecosystems, nurtured by church admins with tenderness and care.


Connie Wardle – Church Administrator, Knox Presbyterian

“Originally, I thought I’d be in the this role for a couple of years, but I’ve found that I enjoy working closer to the front lines of ‘church world’. There’s satisfaction that comes from being able to support things from conception to fruition. I get to do lost of creative problem-solving. I work with lots of interesting people.”

Connie Wardle, the church administrator at Knox Presbyterian. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

Val Waldron – Family Ministries and Worship Co-ordinator, Walton United

“When we answer the phone or the door, we never know if it will be a pleasant visit or a challenging time in that person’s life…You know, I can honestly say no two days are the same; every day is a different experience and a different blessing. While going through some challenging things, I’m not sure it will turn out to be a blessing, but God has a way of changing things and improving things. Aren’t we so blessed!”

Val Waldron, the family ministries and worship co-ordinator at Walton United. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

Alison King – Administration, Facilities and Sunday School Co-ordinator, Walton United

“I originally started working at the church in the capacity of Sunday School co-ordinator. At the time, I was looking for a part-time job with the flexibility to work around my children’s schedule. When the administration and facilities co-ordinator opportunity arose, I didn’t hesitate to apply. It’s such a fulfilling job, with the most wonderful, supportive team of co-workers you could imagine. So now I wear two different hats at Walton, which keeps me busy!”

Alison King, the administration, facilities and Sunday School co-ordinator at Walton United. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

Stuart Le Fevre – Financial Administrator, Walton United

“I was watching soccer n TV on a Sunday morning and my wife came home from worshipping at Walton. She told me they needed a financial administrator for the office and a tenor for the choir. It was kind of a two-for-one deal… My previous job was working on the trading floor of an investment bank in the City of London [U.K.] as a risk manager. The only time my job at Walton gets anywhere near the same level of stress is when the projector breaks down on a Sunday morning.”

Stuart Le Fevre, the financial administrator at Walton United. (Photograph by Shlomi Amiga)

More on Broadview:


Shlomi Amiga is a commercial and editorial photographer who works in Toronto.

Devon Amiga is a storyteller and a marketing professional who works in Toronto.

This story first appeared in Broadview’s October/November 2023 issue with the title “Unsung heroes.”

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