Category Listings For: District President

Rev. Harry Ruf

From A Saskatchewan Farm Boy to the
Office of The Holy Ministry

(H. E. Ruf, Emeritus)

How did I come to the decision to enter the Holy Ministry?  My family was always deeply involved in the activities of our little village church at Stornoway, SK.  The church was the centre of the community around which people gathered for worship and social activities.  The pastor was the only person in the community whose education had gone beyond High School.  He was respected and looked up to, not only as one who led us in worship and instruction in the Word, but his advice was also sought out in many other areas of life.

I was second youngest in a family of five children.  In preschool days, my younger sister and I would often play church, where I pretended to be the pastor and she was the congregation.  This eventually led my parents to tell me:  “When you grow up, you’re going to be a pastor!”  It was with this in mind that they enrolled me, together with my younger sister, in the High School of Concordia College, Edmonton, AB.

While at Concordia High School, my plans wavered between becoming a pastor and a parochial school teacher.  Dr. Albert Schwerman, our college president, got wind of this, and so he decided to have a little “fatherly” talk with me.  I was called into his office and, before I could sit down, he said, “Ruf, I understand you are going to become a pastor!”  After speaking to me for half an hour, without letting me get in a word, I left his office saying to myself:  “Well, it looks like I’m going to become a pastor!”  Dr. Schwerman just had to set my thinking straight!

My years at Concordia College were the most enjoyable years of my schooling.  Not only did I meet my future wife, Ruth, there, but the influence of Concordia’s professors and the family relationship in our small student body really led me to want to serve in that kind of atmosphere, and the logical way to do this, as far as I was concerned, was to serve in the Church as a pastor.

Four of us young men graduated from Concordia College in 1955 as prospective pastors.  All of us enrolled at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.  What a life-changing experience that was!  In high school and college, we thought we knew what studying was all about, but at Seminary we really learned the meaning of studying!   However, God gave us the ability to meet the challenges, and,  before we knew it, graduation arrived and we received our calls.

Besides the many hours of studying, often into the wee hours of the night, there was one other huge challenge, and that was to meet the costs of seminary training.  It was necessary for me to hold down a half-time job at nights to be able to meet expenses.  It was not at all uncommon to come home at 2:00 AM and then spend another couple of hours preparing assignments.  In retrospect, I’m sure God let things happen in that way in order to prepare me for long hours of hard work in the ministry.

My vicarage was under the supervision of the Rev. Lester Gierach in the Cloverdale/Aldergrove Parish in British Columbia.  I received excellent training under him for the parish ministry.  He taught me work habits which I kept throughout my ministry.  I served in four parishes where I received a wide variety of experiences from which I have many, many fond memories, the greatest of which were seeing how powerfully the Spirit works through the means of grace.   The places I served were at:       (1) A new mission parish at Williams Lake, Quesnel and One Hundred Mile House, BC;  (2) A small town farming community at Moosomin/Broadview, SK;  (3) A large city congregation at Grace, Regina, SK;  (4) A growing congregation at Port Coquitlam, BC.  My last years before retirement were spent as the Mission Exec of the ABC District (2 years) and as ABC District President (12 years).

Rev. Thomas E. J. Prachar

When I was five or six-years-old, our extended family would often gather for meals to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Being the youngest in the group around that time, I was always asked to pray before our meal. And so I prayed the table prayer taught to me by my mother, a prayer that I still use today. When I was finished, my grandmother would inevitably say, “He’s going to make a fine pastor some day!” I recall that I would frown, and think that I wanted to be a policeman or fireman, or anyone else more interesting than a pastor!

I believe it was then that the seed was planted. That notion of becoming a pastor was nurtured by Christian parents and God-parents who subtly encouraged my Christian growth in faith and life. They gave me the gifts of a Bible and hymnal, and generally put me in situations where a shy boy and youth spoke in front of strangers. When I was in confirmation class, I became friends with my pastor’s son. We ended up running off Sunday’s bulletin, folding it, and inserting it in the members’ mailboxes. Since I was not a “PK” (“preacher’s kid”), that friendship gave me a behind-the-scenes look at life in the parsonage. I discovered that they faced all the same problems that my family did.
My church had a good youth group at that time. My pastor, Rev. Raymond Mantynen, even took us on several field trips to Concordia, Ann Arbor, MI. I think that glimpse of studying theology and other subjects in a Christian environment did a lot to entice me to do the same someday.

As I began to more seriously consider studying for the pastoral ministry. I wasn’t sure if I was “pastor material” because of my shyness, and nervousness speaking before people. I was also concerned that I did not have the financial resources to undertake such a journey of study. My mother confided that if God wanted me to be a pastor, He would provide the money to make it happen. With sacrifices by my parents and good-paying summer jobs that came my way, I was blessed to attend college and seminary debt-free. This was indeed a blessing because I didn’t need a part-time job while at seminary, but could focus my time and effort on my studies.

When I set my sights on being a pastor, my home pastor would occasionally have me read a lesson or two in the Divine Service. One summer I helped him for a few weeks with some door-to-door evangelism.
While attending Concordia, Ann Arbor for two years, and then Concordia Senior College for another two years, I had my Greek and Hebrew language foundations solidly set in place. What a blessing to arrive at seminary with such a good start in the Biblical languages! At the seminary (St. Catharines), my favourite classes were in exegetics and homiletics. I loved to be able to really dig in to the Biblical texts! God was able to take that study, together with my limited creativity, and enable me to produce sermons that I hoped would touch people with the answer they needed for life’s problems.
One of my greatest joys in the ministry is teaching an Adult Instruction class. It is gratifying to engage in discussion with people who are seeking answers to the bigger questions of life now and hereafter. It is quite an experience to witness someone have an “Ah, ha!” moment when it comes to their eternal salvation.

As I continue to serve in whatever capacity my Lord desires of me in His church, I will always remember the phrase “sin and grace—my sin and God’s grace.” Throughout my life and ministry, I have brought Him my sin and have received my Saviour’s free and wonderful grace: His undeserved love shown to me through His cross and empty tomb.
That’s what I’ve tried to tell others throughout my ministry.