Ministerial and Administrative Staff
Rev Maya Douglas
Montréal native, Brigid Maya Douglas recently completed her third year as an ordained minister at Queensville Holland Landing UC located north of Newmarket. She is thrilled to be at St. James UC, which is only a 15-minute drive away (against traffic) from her home of 12 yrs at Coxwell and Danforth!
Maya, as she prefers to be called, is of Taίno (Arawak) Indigenous & African-Jamaican ancestry who uses “she/her” pronouns. Her four children attend Francophone schools in the Upper Beach and on Landsdowne. Sophie Brathwaite (12 yrs) is entering her eighth year as a cellist and her sixth year as a member of the Bach Children’s Chorus (BCC). Olivia (8 yrs) studied violin for two years and is entering her second year as a violist and her fourth year with the BCC. The twins, Matthieu and Phineas (6 yrs), are in their second year as violinists and their first year performing with the BCC.
During their “free time”, the Douglas-Brathwaite family enjoy riding their bikes through the parks and to their local ice cream shop. Their favourite place for special outings is the Distillery District. Maya has a passion for conscious parenting, spiritual embodiment, and dancing. Maya spent the summer “unplugging” after the online learning in the spring and ran a make-shift mommy camp with hands-on activities in the morning while adjusting her work hours to run from noon to late evening. The children often watched documentaries and played games in the afternoons.
Maya enjoys reading and watching movies. Her favourite book is actually… the Bible! She has read it three times, so far. Reflecting theologically on life’s events and issues is what she often does. She enjoys engaging with others in conversation, yet is a true introvert. Maya loves canoeing! She is a Sci-fi and documentary nerd, who also doesn’t mind sitting for hours to knit. That is, if and when she has free time.
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, J.-C. Coolen grew up surrounded by the music of the Church. Music in worship has always had a special meaning for him, and childhood piano lessons quickly provided him with skills to take a leadership role in worship music. He studied music (piano) at the university level in Massachusetts, and has taken further varied studies in organ, voice, choral conducting, handbells, percussion and music in worship, all of which inform his music ministry.
J.-C. is a free-lance church musician, conductor and accompanist active in the eastern Greater Toronto Area. J.-C. is currently the Music Minister at St. James United Church, Etobicoke, and also serves as organist and occasional cantor for the Sunday 5pm mass at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Pickering. He directs the Durham Community Choir and Espressivo Singers in Oshawa. He is also extensively involved in English handbell ringing in Ontario. He conducts Bells of Bowmanville at the Bowmanville Seventh-day Adventist Church; The Bronze Foundation, Toronto’s auditioned community handbell ensemble; and Bronze Foundation Academy, a new intermediate-level community handbell choir.
Naturally inquisitive, in his free time J.-C. likes to travel, read, think, and satisfy his curiosity
Junior & Youth Choir Director
Wendy Simone joined the St. James family as Director of the St. James Junior and Youth Choirs in 2018. The two choirs sing regularly at Sunday morning worship services and for special events throughout the school year. The primary goal of the choirs is to foster a love of music while providing children and youth with an opportunity to contribute to the worship experience of the congregation. The choristers develop a love of singing and further their musicianship skills in a safe and supportive environment while enjoying a wide range of repertoire.
Personal History and Background
Wendy has sung in Greater Toronto Area-based choirs for over 30 years. Her love of choral singing and passion for high-quality music-making have granted her the opportunity to sing with such groups as: the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, Oriana Women’s Choir, Ontario Youth Choir, and Amadeus Choir. Wendy attended the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice, with a concentration in History & Theory. She also holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from George Brown College and a Bachelor of Education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Wendy is a certified member with the Ontario College of Teachers and has been teaching with the Peel District School Board since 2012. She currently sings with the St. Patrick’s Gregorian Choir under the direction of Surinder S. Mundra, as well as the Chancel and Senior Choirs here at St. James. Wendy also performs with the Wavestage Theatre Company and has had leading and supporting roles in over 20 musicals since 2010. Although she may be a resident of Richmond Hill, Wendy is delighted to make St. James her second home.
Matty joined our team as Office Administrator in the fall of 2017. She is the one who will answer your calls, respond to your emails, posts announcements, books rooms for gatherings and handles the every day needs of our office. She has 20 years of experience in the administrative field and is very excited to be here. Originally from El Salvador, she immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1987. She grew up in Etobicoke, attended Glendon College/York University as well as Canada Christian College. She is also the mother of three wonderful children and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Registered Early Childhood Educator, Experienced Preschool Teacher,
Head Nursery Caregiver at St. James since 2016
James is a 4th year university student studying French, Psychology, and Education at the University of Toronto. He is passionate about working with children and hopes to pursue a career in the field of education for the future. James has been attending St. James since before he can remember and is excited to help out in the nursery again this year
Danuta Zawierucha began serving as our accountant in October 2009. She prepares monthly financial reports that combine the volunteer services of our bookkeeper, Karen Munday and the cheques written by Dave Head for our expenses. Danuta attends the monthly meetings of our Finance Committee, prepares the year end financial statement and forecasted budget for the upcoming year, and completes the financial portion of annual reports required by The United Church of Canada, and the Canada Revenue Agency.
Building Maintenance & Custodial Staff
Worku Gebrekidan is responsible for pre-arranged room set-ups and take downs, lawn maintenance and snow shovelling of the walkways and extra jobs as needed.