- Where: North Perth (Listowel), ON
- Current Ministry: Multipoint Congregational, Padre for Royal Canadian Legion
- Years in Ministry: 6
How and when did you know you were called to ministry?
I live in Southwestern Ontario in the Town of North Perth (Listowel). I was born and raised in the village of Atwood, Ontario, and attended the United Church there. I was married in the Monkton United Church. My partner, Jackie, and I have three children and have been blessed with eight grandchildren. I am a recognized Designated Lay Minister DLM in the Huron-Perth Presbytery serving a three-point charge consisting of Dungannon, Trinity (Ashfield Township) and Knox of Belgrave, Ontario (Facebook page: Dungannon, Trinity, Belgrave United Churches). I am also the Padre for the Lucknow Legion Branch 05-309.
I have been in ministry now for six years, which includes my time as a student for the above churches. I was previously a long-distance owner-operator transport driver covering all of Canada as well as all of the United States of America. I did so for the majority of my life until financial heartbreak and economical conditions caused me to lose everything but my home and family. It was during these times that my inner pull toward serving Christ came to the forefront.
To be an owner-operator you must sacrifice everything—family, friends, community—to try and make enough revenue to remain viable and provide for your family. You are placed in the most terrible conditions imaginable and see humanity at its worst and at its most vulnerable state. It was there that I saw the wonder and the mystery of God’s workings. When I was at my lowest, Christ was there; in my proudest moments, Christ was there; when I was at the end of a long day and arrived safely, Christ was there.
It was during these times of highs and lows that friends and fellow church members gave me a nudge, a push if you will, to take up my call and express the stories of hardship and problems within our world. I then realized that I was being called to express these times and could directly relate them to others experiencing the same feelings. God waited patiently until I had hit the bottom and lost it all, yet God remained still firm in my heart and gave me the courage to speak aloud “I have a calling to serve.” I had a call to the ministry.
Why did you pursue ministry in The United Church of Canada?
I was always a member of The United Church of Canada and its openness and ability to see the world through eyes open and not eyes closed by centuries of dogma is what truly leads me to pursue my ministry in The United Church of Canada.
I enrolled in the DLM program. Since enrolling I must admit I struggled. At 55 years of age and being a grade 10 high school dropout, the educational element was very difficult—but necessary in order to receive my recognition. I have been opened up to so many exciting challenges and the continued recognizing of social injustices than I could have ever imagined.
What has been the greatest part of entering ministry?
I am so proud of our church, The United Church of Canada, for tackling the problems instead of sidestepping or, worse yet, refusing to understand that “we are all the children of God” regardless of colour, creed, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.
What has been your biggest challenge in ministry?
The biggest challenge has been my ability to handle and understand the educational portion of the program, but through the guidance and help of all my professors and teachers, peer group leaders and fellow students, family and church support groups, we have managed to fulfill the educational stream of the DLM program. If this portion or element of servicing God is chasing you away, there is more help than you will ever imagine to get you to the place you need to be.
If someone said they wanted to be a minister, what would you tell them?
If you have a call, and you have a breath of life within you, you will get there, just call me and we will talk and chat about it. The joy and jubilation of the completion of the program and the admiration for your perseverance, combined with the knowledge and insight you will gain, is overwhelming. I am a testament to this fact.
If God has called you, in your heart you feel the need to pursue your call. Do it; you are needed in our church to testify and help those that struggle, to seek out and find those that are lost. Rekindle a flame in someone’s heart to the reality that Christ lives in each of us and his light will never go out. To allow someone at life’s end to know that they are never alone is so rewarding and comforting for them.
Any other comments about your ministry and vocation?
In closing I would like to say the greatest challenge our church really has is the loss of three generations of committed attendees. By that I mean in the 1960s everyone went to church because it was Sunday, that is what everyone did. There are so many more attractions to attend than Sunday worship; it is sad but it is fact.
There are more distractions for society today to fail to recognize all that God has provided for us. We need to find a way to get the message out there that God needs to be in your life and that a simple hour of worship is pretty minimal for all we receive, the air we breath, the water we drink, and the soil we plant. The message must continue to be spread to those that for now can’t receive it. We all need to be 21st-century disciples, just like the first 12, and continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, for those that find belief in him will find the answer to most, if not all, the questions the wonderers currently have.
May you discern your call, and with a willing heart and an open mind follow the guidance Christ gives in prayer. Amen.