A South African who began his career in the ministry as a Methodist, is the new priest at Westminster Memorial United Church in Kamsack.
Rev. Kevin Sprong, who lives in Swan River with his wife Jenny who is the United Church minister in that community, began serving the Kamsack congregation in a half-time position in May.
“I’m in Kamsack for two weeks, which includes three Sundays, and then I return to Swan River,” Sprong said last week, adding that since his first Sunday in Kamsack, he and his wife made a three-week visit to South Africa where his two daughters and a one year-old grandson still live.
Born and raised in Durban, Sprong spent a few years in retail, managing a chain store outlet, but then at age 22 began the process of becoming a priest. He was ordained a
minister of the Methodist Church of South Africa in 1982 in Johannesburg by Rev. Khoza Mgojo, and then served the church in South Africa.
In 2013 he and his wife came to Canada when she accepted the position in Swan River and he served for about eight months at Kenville and Benito, Man.
“I still have some courses to complete before becoming a United Church priest,” he said, adding that he expects those courses to be done by July 2016.
Both he and his wife plan to become Canadians and will have landed immigrant status at the end of the year.
Asked why the couple chose to change their nationality Sprong said that the United Church has broken many barriers including having been the first church to ordain women and the first church to ordain gay ministers.
“It is a pioneering church,” he said, explaining that the evolution for someone from Methodist to United is not rare.
He said that while in South Africa he and his congregations were part of the struggle to end apartheid in that country, but he has since been disillusioned with South African politics, and because of that has found Canada an attractive alternative.
“I see my role here as two-fold: I listen carefully and deeply and I relate that to a Christian spirituality,” he said.
Having been introduced to curling, Sprong says he loves that sport, even though he has to curl using a stick. He also cites reading as among his main interests.