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Born: Jul 31, 1920

Date of Passing: Nov 08, 2022

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July 31, 1920 - November 8, 2022

Spiritual Pilgrim

Death is not a boundary. Gordon felt "privileged and enthralled to be part of the mystery of being alive in the limitless inclusiveness of infinity." He highly valued his soul friendships with others along the way.
Gordon was always interested in the interior life. During the 1940s he was a conscientious objector before that role was even defined by the Canadian government. He married the 'love of his life' Mary Knight. He was ordained as a United Church minister in 1947 and moved his family to rural charges in Saskatchewan. During the 1950s in Edinburgh, Scotland, he did doctoral studies on former social activists within the church. A program requirement was 1.5 years of psychoanalysis for students and their spouses, including dream interpretation. Returning to Saskatchewan, he promoted community mental health in his ministry by connecting rural townspeople with psychiatrists and, in Regina, working with groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. During the 1960s Gordon explored psychology more deeply by completing a speciality in Pastoral Counselling at the Menninger Psychiatric Institute in Topeka, Kansas. He and the family moved to Winnipeg in 1963 where he established a counselling practice at the Pastoral Institute and then the University of Manitoba.
In the mid-1970s, Gordon and Mary did a three-month residential sabbatical at the Cold Mountain Institute on Cortes Island, BC. The retreat centre integrated eastern (Buddhism) and western (Gestalt) approaches to philosophy, health, and group therapy as pathways to personal growth. These experiences shifted his focus to the mysteries within and commonalities between various religions. He began meditating daily, auditing Religious Studies classes, and attending Buddhist workshops and retreats. Thirty years after they married, Mary (former nurse and educator) and Gordon (minister and counsellor) discovered they could work together giving leadership to others. As a team, for over 20 years after retiring, they conducted many community courses and workshops in Manitoba on a variety of topics such as Centering Prayer, Journalling, Couple Communication/Marriage Enrichment, Dream Appreciation, Family Life and Sex Education, Congregational Retreats, Meditation, Faith/Psychic healing, Aging: A Sacred Path, and Living Your Dying. Gordon concluded that Contemplative Prayer was the commonality across world religions. For the last couple of decades, he called himself a Buddhist Christian.
Gordon was predeceased by his wife of 71 years, Mary Elizabeth Toombs; his son Lowry Toombs from Alberta, and his five siblings.
He is survived by his daughter Susan Wagner (Neil) of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta; and his son Daniel John from Boston, MA, USA. He also leaves 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. He regretted that his grandchildren lived across the continent and that he did not know them better.
The Memorial Service for Gordon Toombs will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday December 16, 2022, in Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue, Winnipeg, MB. It will be broadcast on YouTube.
The link for the live video streaming is
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of Gordon's favourite charities: Project Ploughshares, Ecojustice Canada, or the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Dec 10, 2022

Condolences & Memories (1 entries)

  • Honouring a lifetime of humbleness, enquiring journey and service to others. - Posted by: Linda Cantelon (former student) on: Dec 10, 2022

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

4000 Portage Ave. (Map)
Ph: 2048859715 | Visit Website

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