We are one

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I started in full-time ministry at the age of 22. I had the opportunity to work for a faith-based organization in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, that was engaging children and youth who were struggling to survive on the streets of that city. Many of the young people ended up in the notorious city prison Palmasola.

Part of my regular work was to visit and provide support to incarcerated youth. Palmasola has a reputation for being one of the most violent prisons in South America. Pope Francis visited the prison in 2015 during a papal visit to Bolivia, listening to and praying with prisoners, of whom 90% haven’t had a formal trial. A big highlight for me during my time in Santa Cruz was starting up a street soccer club with the youth.

In June of 2000, I moved back to Canada and started theological studies at Tyndale University in Toronto. While at Tyndale, I got connected to the Salvation Army Gateway, a downtown shelter for men experiencing homelessness, and I worked frontline on the graveyard shift while studying.

My future wife, Alison, who was studying at the University of Toronto, for some reason put up with my crazy work and study schedules. We ended up getting married at her grandparent’s farm in Orillia. During our first year of marriage I continued to work at Gateway, and then we moved to Japan to teach English for three years in Osaka.

During that time, I started to attend chapel services at Poole Gakuin University, a local Anglican university. This was my first initiation to Anglicanism. While at Poole, I started to do a lot of reading and research about exploring Christian faith and theology from non-Western perspectives.

Alison and I moved back to Canada, and I began a Master of Theological Studies at Huron College in London, Ontario (my hometown). While at Huron I continued to work in street outreach and refugee support and settlement.

We moved to Vancouver Island in the summer of 2011. I transferred to the Vancouver School of Theology (VST) and was fortunate to work on my MDiv in the Indigenous Studies Program, which enrolled Indigenous and a few non-Indigenous people from all over Turtle Island, as well as internationally.

Most of my studies were done remotely while I worked at a local homeless shelter in Courtenay. The highlight of my time at VST has to be the two week in-person Indigenous Studies Program Summer School (crowned with an annual summer school salmon barbeque).

Thanks to VST I’ve formed lifelong friendships with people from all over the world. I graduated from VST in 2015. I was ordained the following year to the diaconate by Bishop Logan.

Alison and I moved to Port Hardy and served communities on the North Island. The Sacred Journey lay at the centre of our ministry there. We were warmly embraced by the community and were deeply transformed by the time we spent there. My Chief and Elder, Spruce Wamiss, would often share the Kwak’wala phrase O’man’s ‘Nam’a (which means “we are one”). It is this teaching and wisdom that guides my way and spurs me on in our shared faith and ministry here at St. John the Divine in Courtenay.

Author

  • Alastair Hunting is the incumbent at St. John the Divine, Courtenay.