Ken Delisle, a member of Rainbow Harmony Project since 2001 is the 2023 recipient of the Craig Chaplin Award from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College (Dio) & United Church Studies at Dio.
The Craig Chaplin Award was established as a legacy from Rev Craig Chaplin in June 2001, with the instructions to be presented “in recognition of the particular ministries of gay and lesbian people both within the formal, organized structures of the Christian Church and without.” It is intended to honour “those whose life’s work has… embodied such central Gospel values as personal courage and integrity, life-affirming faith and spirituality, an unswerving commitment to social justice and a sustainable environment, and solidarity with those who are poor or marginalized.”
Ken Delisle was the first openly gay person in 1994 to complete diaconal ministry preparation of the United Church of Canada. He grew up in Ontario and moved to Manitoba in the 1970s. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences, a Master of Arts, International Affairs, and a Master of Theological Studies in Diaconal Ministry. In 2008, he was named as a Companion of the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg. He has served as an inspiration and model to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community called to ministry and has been an outstanding advocate for justice within and beyond the church walls. He is known as a man of courage, deep faith, and warm hospitality. He was married to Rev. John E. Robertson from 1979 until John’s death in 2021.
Ken was on the front lines of the 1979 protest against Anita Bryant, a popular American singer in the 50s and 60s. He raised his voice against her acts of discrimination, writing a letter to the Winnipeg Free Press. In 1987, Ken spoke passionately in favour of Bill C47 (a bill to provide legal protection for homosexuals against discriminatory treatment under the Manitoba Human Rights law) to the members of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, leading to the eventual passing into law. A month after the bill was passed, the very first official pride parade was held, on August 2, 1987.
In 2001, Ken joined the Rainbow Harmony Project in their second year, and has been with us ever since. His devotion to the 2SLGBTSIA+ community has never wavered. He loves life, people, and the world in general. He has a strong and grounded faith, a strong belief in family, community, and the spirit of humankind, and he has a passionate quest for love and peace. Ken and his late partner John housed, sheltered, and loved several foster children of various genders and orientations. Both Ken and John learned sign language, and Ken continues to be fluent, performing in sign language at RHP events. He loves humour, laughter, and good fun, and excels in the world of music, stage and theatre, and performing arts, all of which he brings to the choir. He impacts the lives of everyone he meets; we are so grateful and honoured that he is a part of our community.