2023 Recipients


Photo of Nancy SteevesNancy Steeves, DMin, MDiv, LLB, BSc 

Doctor of Divinity

Rev. Dr. Nancy Steeves is recognized with the honorary Doctor of Divinity for her lifetime of  service as an outstanding spiritual leader, wisdom-teacher, lover of nature, and compassionate activist for justice.  Dr. Steeves hails from the Maritimes, where she began her faith journey in a Baptist church in northern New Brunswick.  She holds a Bachelor of Science from Dalhousie University (1978), a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary (1981), a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta (1989), and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary (2009).  Dr. Steeves has served a wide variety of faith communities in the traditions of the Presbyterian, Metropolitan Community, Moravian, and United Church of Canada churches. Interwoven with her career as a minister, for more than a decade Dr. Steeves also practiced law in contexts both public (as a crown prosecutor) and private (in civil and criminal law). 

Dr. Steeves is best known—and most loved—as the longstanding minister of Southminster-Steinhauer United Church (SSUC), where she served for nearly two decades (until her retirement in 2023). Southminster-Steinhauer has the distinction of being Alberta’s first and oldest affirming faith community.  Under Dr. Steeve’s leadership, SSUC has become a home for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community of Edmonton.  She and her life partner Dawn Waring modeled and encouraged a safe, welcoming, and participatory space for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  As one of her nominators remarked: “Nancy exhibits a strength of leadership that is visionary, proactive, and stimulating. She has encouraged SSUC to embrace an expansive spirituality based on values and loving actions … I appreciate that Nancy’s leadership has held a growing edge throughout, for herself and for us.” 

In addition to being a home for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, Southminster-Steinhauer has become widely known as a spiritual home for those who are drawn to an expansive spirituality that integrates nature, poetry, books, film, music, science, and the wisdom teachings of many traditions.  Under Nancy’s leadership, the community of Southminster-Steinhauer—which is also known as Spiritual Seekers United in Community (SSUC)—has become a blossoming tree, the branches of which have given rest and nourishment to spiritual seekers from across faith traditions and worldviews. 

Dr. Steeves is regarded as a gifted wordsmith and communicator who can uphold a vast array of scriptural passages, and whose Celebration of Life services have proven remarkable in honouring the life lived, giving comfort to those who mourn, and in upholding healthy spiritual understandings of death.  She is the author of Habits of the Heart: Practices for Spiritual Seekers (2023), a collection of 31 reflections that reframe ancient stories from the Jewish Christian heritage in ways meaningful for progressive Christians, for those who are spiritual but not religious, and for those whose spirituality is deeply connected to the natural world. 

Dr. Steeves is passionate about a spirituality grounded in enchantment with the natural world, inspired by ancient and contemporary wisdom, and engaged in personal, social, and global change.  She has led SSUC in supporting various social justice causes, including the  inner-city Bissel Centre, the work of Operation Friendship, and creating space for chapters of AA and other community activities.  Dr. Steeves has also been a mentor to many Edmonton faith communities in their journey to become affirming, and she has worked nationally on the Restorative Justice Committee of the United Church of Canada.  As noted by one of her nominators: “deep human caring, personal strength … and invitation to belong in community are hallmarks of Nancy’s humanity and ministry.”