I was born and raised in the small town of Paris and I am the proud father of two teenage girls: Ally and Grace. When I was growing up in Paris, our family didn’t attend church. I didn’t really know anything about church, except that God, Jesus, the Bible, and church were all connected in some way. Then in my late teens, I began reading about our faith and started to wonder whether or not these stories about Jesus were real. And I don’t just mean the miracles, I mean the beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are the meek. You see, that’s what I was looking for because it seemed like I didn’t really fit in anywhere in high school.
Even though I was great in academics, for a teenager that’s not what high school is about. It’s about fitting in, and my friends and I were geeks who played Dungeons and Dragons most weekends. We were creating imaginary worlds where we fit in.
But then I was reading these stories about Jesus who always hung out with those on the margins, and seemed to favour those who were bullied and kicked around. These were stories of an upside-down reality, where you were loved, valued, and accepted, regardless of who you were or whether or not you were part of the cool crowd.
When I was in university, there was this girl who said that she trusted that God would look after her, that she would never be alone, and she believed it with all her heart. And right at that moment, a little miracle occurred; for the first time, I saw faith as something tangible. Something real. All I had to do was trust, and I’d be okay. It was that simple, and that night, sitting under a tree on campus at Wilfrid Laurier (WLU), I became a Christian.
Now I am well aware of how that traumatic adolescent thing called high school shaped me and led me to that moment. There were no fireworks as a result of me becoming a Christian. There was no sudden transformation of character. But what happened that night was real. It meant something significant then, and it continues to have profound significance.
After completing an honours degree in History and English at WLU, I moved out to Winnipeg to do a Master’s degree in Anglo-Saxon literature. I especially enjoyed the courses I took on literary theory but eventually realized that my job prospects in Canada were scarce. So in 1995, I moved to Hokkaido Japan to teach English and study samurai sword-fighting, achieving the rank of shodan (black belt).
Then in 1997, I moved back to Kitchener and worked for the Japanese company Komatsu. It was there that I got involved in the field of Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S). The work was exciting and provided me with incredible opportunities, one of which was to join the company Raytheon Canada as an EH&S officer. The global Raytheon Company is a very large defense contractor. I was able to travel and see some amazing things with them, but my spirit was always restless and unsettled, out of alignment.
That’s when I started to reassess my entire life. I told my priest, “I think I’m called by God to priestly ministry.” And he looked at me carefully, and the first thing he said was, “That’s too bad.” And I responded, “I know…” because priestly ministry is not something that rational people do.
He told me the different steps involved, so I met with the Dean of Theology at Huron College and enrolled part-time that fall. Suddenly all of these opportunities opened up for me. I resigned from Raytheon, and literally the next day got a call from Blackberry, offering me a position as their manufacturing safety manager. We negotiated part-time hours, the work was satisfying, and it paid my entire way through seminary.
While there, I was ordained early and worked at East London Anglican Ministries (ELAM) with a focus on youth ministry and community outreach. Then I accepted the bishop’s appointment to Good Shepherd, Woodstock and Christ Church, Huntingford. While serving there, I developed a seven week sermon series on Harry Potter.
Now I love Harry Potter. I had read a chapter every night at bedtime to my two daughters for years. I treasure these stories because of the bond that we created while reading with them. But I also noticed that the series explores the universal struggle between good and evil and the redemptive power of love, which happens to mirror the Lenten journey in many traditional Anglican parishes. Excitement surrounding my Harry Potter sermon series spread, and a few months later I received an invitation to present my work at the Allusions to God in Literature conference at Oxford University, an amazing experience.
Later in 2012, I accepted the bishop’s appointment to St. James, Paris, and began doing ministry in my own hometown; a rare opportunity. Over these past four and a half years I reconnected with people from my childhood, buried dear friends, and ministered in a growing community. In that context, my view of Jesus has been getting more expansive, inclusive, and all encompassing.
I am excited by the challenges and opportunities to continue my ministry at Church of the Holy Saviour.