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by Anne Lee

Bethany Herb grew up in St. Thomas, Ont. She is the youngest of two children. She had what she describes as “pretty normal childhood.” 

Her father was a teacher, and her mother ran a home daycare and worked for a catering company. The family attended a Baptist church and Bethany went to a Christian school until high school.

She is married to Rob Montgomery, the priest at St. Luke’s, Gondola Point. They have one daughter, Addie, age 9.

Bethany has a degree in social sciences from Providence University College and has completed a program in gerontology from Laurentian University.

Introduction to Anglicanism
When Bethany was in college, she attended an Anglican church with friends and was immediately attracted to the style of worship.

“I was in Manitoba and there was an Anglican church that was doing evening services that were drawing in the younger crowd. I went with some friends, and I found it really interesting. 

“I found the liturgy and the kind of more contemplative, slower pace to the service nice. I think it just fit for me and Anglicanism made sense to me.”

Dating Rob
Bethany and Rob met at university. They were both residence assistants and part of the same student leadership team. 

He joined her group of friends, and they began hanging out more and then dating. She knew he wanted to be a pastor but was not sure she wanted to be a pastor’s wife.

“I don't think I really wanted to think too much about it. I found it a little intimidating to think about being married to a pastor so I don't think it really came up that often,” she said.   

“We were young and with our friends. But obviously it all worked out.”

Early Work
Bethany graduated a year ahead of Rob and stayed in Winnipeg, living with a group of friends, while he finished his degree. 

She worked in a government housing subdivision in a resource centre, dealing with a lot of people with mental illness and addictions and coming from domestic violence situations. It was an intense year, she said, and she was ready for change when it was over.

Back to Ontario
When Rob finished his degree, both wanted to return to Ontario. They moved to Rob’s hometown of Thunder Bay and married that summer.

Thunder Bay provided some challenges. Bethany needed a reset and Rob was unsure of his next step.

“I left my job. I needed to decompress for a while,” she said. 

“By the time I left I was completely burnt out and about to get married, moving to a new place.”

The couple did not feel connected with Rob’s childhood church. At this point, they began questioning “What are we?”

Rob began helping out with a Free Methodist church and Bethany thought, “Ok, now we are Free Methodists.” 

One of Rob’s professors encouraged him to continue his studies and enter the masters program at Wycliffe. He arrived at Wycliffe still intending to be a Free Methodist. 

“What was so funny was that I always said to him, ‘if you become a Free Methodist minister I might go to an Anglican church.’

“We went to Wycliffe, and I was a brand-new mother. Addie was two months old,” she said. 

“We had a one-bedroom apartment on the campus. They had a great family environment. There were other families there that we got to know. There was a playground in the back. It was a great experience.”

In Rob’s last year, they realized they had to confront the question of denomination. Anglicanism was the answer.

New Brunswick
Rob found a position at St. Paul’s on the Common, Rothesay and the family moved to New Brunswick. Once ordained, he was appointed priest at St. Luke’s Gondola Point and chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School.

Bethany returned to her studies. She completed a program in gerontology, studying full-time on-line for four years. 

“I was interested in aging and how we treat people who are older. I completed that program in the spring of 2020.

“I was working at a nursing home as a temporary support worker during COVID-19 and that was an interesting experience. There was an outbreak. I was trying to teach exercises in a full plastic gown, face shield and face mask and gloves on.”

She now works in home care, where she finds the connections with her clients rewarding. However, the field is under-funded and under-valued, leading to a high staff turnover. The clients are wary with new staff, so it can be a hard job.

Bethany finds having faith sets people at ease. 

“And they really love that I am married to a priest. I think it makes people trust me.”

Moving to New Brunswick has been a positive experience for the family.  Bethany says she felt a connection to the province immediately. 

“New Brunswick is actually the first time that we've both been able to do our own thing, and it's been really nice for me because I really value my own sense of identity.

“I feel like New Brunswick is where we both feel settled, and it's been a good move.”

And St Luke’s has proven to be a wonderful posting.

“The church is a great community. It’s a great church and they’ve been very kind to us, very welcoming, very supportive. We’ve had such a positive experience at St. Luke’s.”  

Anne Lee holds an English degree from Dalhousie University.  She has worked as a book buyer/seller for Munro’s Books of Victoria. She lives in Quispamsis and worships at St. Luke's, Parish of Gondola Point.

The Montgomery-Herb family:  Rob, Addie and Bethany.
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