It has been a while since I have published anything. This is pretty bad since I stopped in the middle of a series. The main reason for this break was, during December, I started to have serious discussions with a church about potential employment. I felt it was best to maintain a lower profile during that period. I was asked to speak the first three weeks of January and this took up most of my non-work time. At the same time, I was working nights stocking shelves, which exhausted me. Sleeping during the day just doesn’t work well. Over the next few posts I will chronicle our story from Willingdon to White Rock.
My name had been given to a small church in White Rock and they asked me to fill their pulpit on Labour Day weekend. It was an exciting opportunity and, although my contract with Willingdon had been extended, I had taken that week off so I was available. It was a worthwhile Sunday, the weather was fantastic and the people were warm and friendly. We spent much of the early afternoon having lunch with one of the deacons and his family. (Really- it was him, his wife, his brother, his aunt and uncle, and us.) As we ate the buffet (I love buffets), we chatted about life, church and my goals. It was one of the many conversations I have had about my goals, hopes and dreams as I sought to find my place in pastoral ministry. I had no real church prospects at this time. Pretty much everything had closed or was something we knew wasn’t going to work. My best option seemed to be one outside the church.
Initially, I had been hired on a 12 month contract at Willingdon as an intern. Our exit strategy started in January, and we started looking, selectively, for place to minister after our time was done. After some discussions, enjoyable interviews, false starts and either silence or no’s, we were left feeling pretty desperate. In June, I initiated a conversation with Willingdon in hopes that it might lead to something, it didn’t. During the summer, Willingdon was in the process of looking for someone to lead their grade 11-12 ministry, they asked me to cover it for the interim and extended my contract for 2 months (taking us to October 30), almost immediately after extending me they decided to hire the candidate they had been considering for the previous few weeks. I now had 8 weeks to find a job – in a church who often takes 6 months to find someone.
So on the 6th of September, I sat there with Alyssa not know where I would be working or where we would be living. All I really knew was that my week off was over and in 2 days I would be back at Willingdon, back in the interns’ room, preparing for a BBQ kick-off to introduce the guy who would take the job I had for about a week- that I didn’t want or maybe I did, but not really. There I was, with very little to do, but thankful that there was money coming in. I had one specific task and a couple minor ones. The major one was researching and contributing to a detailed paper discussion sexuality- sadly the sights for the paper were set far too low and it didn’t even reach them. But I am familiar with that as an Oilers fan. I did learn that most books on same-sex-attraction are not very good (both the side A and side b ones) save Washed And Waitingby Wes Hill, which is by far the best book I read in 2015. Willingdon starts humming in September, most ministries restart after the summer and there are new interns to break in, so I was left to do my thing- which was somewhat fun. This meant reading, research, and the occasional podcast, which led to Pope-Gate (I will tell you about it sometime).
As November drew nearer, we found ourselves still looking for work. The church in White Rock had asked me to speak again, but this was still pulpit supply. I had interviewed with MCC Thrift (Mennonite Central Committee) about a management position in Abbotsford and that seemed like a real possibility. It was not to be as I was the second choice; I have a habit of finishing second for jobs. I was, however, asked to consider a position in Powell River.
As this was happening, Willingdon realized I was a stray dog and compassionately euthanized me and I was let out of my contract a couple weeks early. The next week, Alyssa and I headed out to Powell River for a visit and to prepare for what we thought would be a new start. I can’t speak for Alyssa, but I left full of excitement, but came back in utter dejection and despair. First, there was no place to us to live. More significantly, the more I got to know the store and leadership, the more understood that it was not, and would not be, a good fit. On the ferry ride home, I stood on the deck soaking in the crisp and chilly ocean air, watching the setting sun, and knowing it mirrored my fading hope. I was empty, broken and defeated.
A couple days later they called to get some references, I told them it wasn’t going to work out and that was the the end of it. We had a job and we turned it down, something I said I wouldn’t do. I had spent much of the previous few months thinking about my calling and was really questioning it and what it looked like for me. Powell River played a small but important step in re-focusing me. One day I will write about this, but not now.