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).