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Rev. Brian Kiely (Retired)

Brian Kiely has been the minister at the Unitarian Church of Edmonton since September of 1997. Before that he spent nine years serving a number of congregations in British Columbia. His educational background includes a Master of Divinity degree from our Unitarian Universalist seminary, Meadville/Lombard Theological School, and a Master of Arts (religious studies) from the University of Chicago.

Brian was born and raised in Montreal, growing up in a staunchly Irish Catholic family. In his young adult years he came to doubt his faith and began asking questions. His questions led him to the Unitarian Church, where he found people willing to discuss religious ideas openly and without concern for required beliefs.

In 1984 after an early career in journalism, photography and a bit of theatre on the side, he found himself struggling with work-related ethical dilemmas. He became more deeply involved in church life leading to a decision to enter the ministry, an idea which first came to him at a friend’s ordination. Brian was ordained in the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto in 1988.

Like most ministers today, his education included courses in Unitarian Universalist topics as well as world religions, sacred scriptures, church history, psychology and sociology of religion and the arts of ministry. He has completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, working as a hospital chaplain, and completed a parish internship in Vancouver. His undergraduate degree is in history.

In the Unitarian church, there is no required creedal statement, meaning all are encouraged to work on their own personal beliefs. Theologically Brian is a ‘theistic humanist’ meaning he has a deep sense of the spirit and of the divine, but that he does not believe in a god that watches over us or that intervenes in our lives. We must rely on our human abilities to solve our own problems, and develop strong, trusting and supportive communities to help us along the way.

Brian has served as editor of The Canadian Unitarian, the national publication of the Canadian Unitarian Council, and was the primary author and witness in a brief to the Canadian Senate on the Council’s position on euthanasia and assisted suicide. He has recently authored a chapter for an upcoming book on everyday spiritual practices on the subject of “Loving Partnership as Spiritual Discipline”.

In November 2007, Brian was elected President of the International Council of Unitarian Universalists.