KAMSACK — Ryan Sawchuk, who has been serving as the minister at Westminster Memorial United Church in Kamsack since September, expects he’ll be eligible to be ordained in about 20 months.
“I’m doing the ministry half-time,” Sawchuk said recently during a meeting in the church’s office. “The other half, I’m studying at school.”
Sawchuk, who already holds a bachelor of theology degree, is a student at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon where he is working towards his master of divinity degree. Once he has completed that work, much of which is done online, and after completing a few other necessities, he will be a candidate for ordination.
In the meantime, he is working with the United Church of Canada in Supervised Ministry Education under guidance of an ordained minister in Yorkton.
“Ministry is a complex and demanding vocation that requires depth of character and numerous competencies,” says an item in the United Church’s website. “The policies and procedures for Supervised Ministry Education aim to support candidates in their formation for the challenging and rewarding role of ministry leadership through a practical learning experience. They also aim to support the church in assessing a candidate’s competence for ministry leadership.
“The goal of Supervised Ministry Education is to develop and deepen a candidate’s competence for ministry leadership.”
Born and raised at Dundurn, Sawchuk said that although his surname is Ukrainian, none of his family has spoken the language for a few generations and family members have been comfortable attending the United Church.
A 2014 graduate of Hanley Composite School in Hanley, Sawchuk then enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and shortly thereafter he switched to St. Andrew’s.
“I felt called to the ministry when I was about 19,” he said. “I started taking classes at school, found it interesting, and continued.”
Sawchuk is the first minister at Westminster Memorial since Rev. Kevin Sprong returned home to South Africa. In the interim, Gwen Reilkoff of Kamsack has been serving as the congregation’s lay minister.
Among his non-school and non-ministerial interests, Sawchuk said he enjoys theatre and hopes to be able to work with the Kamsack Players as Sprong had done.
“Kamsack is lovely. Wonderful,” he said, adding that he has found that people have been very friendly and welcoming.
“It’s a nice, big town,” he said, smiling, explaining that his hometown has a population of only about 600.