Tim has tagged me to list 5 people living or dead who have influenced me spiritually. Like Tim I've been thinking about this a lot lately. So here it goes:
Fr. Bert Foliot was the pastor of St. Ignatius RC Church in Winnipeg when I was a young Christian. I haven't seen him for years but a week doesn't go by that I don't think about him and wonder what he would do in some situation. He is the model for me of what a priest is about. He is prayerful, dedicated and compassionate. I still remember sermons he preached almost 30 years ago and I am still challenged by his passion for marginalized people.
The folks at Church of the Ascension in Coaldale are a wonderful community of prayer and they have challenged me to live more simply. They have taught me so much about being open and to put people before everything else. This is cheating a bit since they are a group but at the heart of this community is an individual who has had a huge impact on me. The Rev'd Marjorie Kennon was one of the first women ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada and was the first woman priest in this diocese. She has given her whole life to service to God and to God's people. She is prayerful, thoughtful, faithful, hardworking and kind. I have learned a great deal from her and value her friendship and example very much.
The Venerable Sidney Black was the curate at St. Augustine's when I first moved to Lethbridge and now he is the rector of St. Cyprian's in Brockett and the archdeacon for aboriginal ministry in our deanery. Sidney is a powerful example to me of faithfulness and perseverance in the face of discouragement and difficulties. He also makes me laugh and has encouraged me often.
Peter Erb was my MA advisor at Wilfrid Laurier University. Peter is an incredible scholar publishing innumerable articles and books, giving lectures, teaching students who think the world of him. Peter was raised Amish and then his church joined a Mennonite body so for most of the time I've known him Peter was a Mennonite. But six years ago he was received into the RC church. He has taught me much about the value of study to the Christian life over the years, has introduced me to so much of the Christian tradition and through his example has taught me not to take myself too seriously.
These are all people I've known personally and I feel a little overwhelmed trying to think of who I would single out among the writers who've influenced me. Graham Greene was so important to me as a young Christian and I still adore Monsignor Quixote and reread it often. Chaim Potok's novels have had a huge impact on me. Eugene Peterson's books have taught me a lot about ministry and thinking of Peterson I could have also included Pastor John Dozois in my list of influences on me. John was my mentor for several years and gave me a new love for St. Paul and introduced me to Peterson's books. James Alison's books have helped me deal with my anger at times when I've been treated unjustly and so have had a significant impact on me. One of my great heroes is Archbishop Desmond Tutu who models faithfulness, courage, compassion and great humour. And then there is Henri Nouwen who taught me a great deal about vulnerability and grace through his books. And then there are the martyrs Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero who have encouraged me to have courage in the face of violence.
I owe so much to these people and to so many more that I could go on for pages. Instead I think I will return to the person who first taught me that Jesus loved me, who first taught me that I could never get so lost that he wouldn't find me, who first taught me to love Scripture, my grandmother Molly Phillips, of blessed memory.
Now I tag Aaron, Kevin, Lindsey, Kathryn, and Paul