A Story of Entering Pastoral Ministry

Life was not easy for people then, not only for a pastor and family. How did I stay in ministry? With the Lord’s help and credit to my brother Henry.

Fran and David Harms

by Rev. Dave Harms

I attended Steinbach Bible Institute (now College) in the winters of 1956 to 1958. I graduated in 1958 with a three-year diploma.

In 1960 the Rosenort EMC ministerial needed one more minister to fill the pulpits on Sunday mornings since the group was already ministering in a number of locales. They decided to have a vote in February to elect a minister by ballot.

When the ballots were counted, it was nearly a tie. The brotherhood decided to accept two ministers. This was how I was elected to be a minister.

Not long after this election, the chairman of the Rosenort Missions Committee asked whether Katie and I would consider helping with the church plant in Roseisle. After praying about it and trying to determine God’s will, we said yes.

I, of course, had to be ordained to preach. The date of March 15, 1960, was set for the ordination. That was the first Sunday I was sent to Roseisle to teach the Sunday School class and preach my first message there. I hurried home to take in my ordination service.

After six years I resigned. Katie and I moved to Blumenort. I took two Grade 11 classes at Steinbach Christian High School in the morning; in the afternoons I was an orderly at the Rest Haven Nursing Home in Steinbach.

Before the year was up, leaders from the Roseisle EMC paid us a visit and asked us to come back to serve as pastor again. After praying about it, we decided to go back. We served there for eleven more years. Much credit must go to my brother Henry, who helped with work, a house, and meat in the freezer.

I don’t recall how much the Rosenort Missions Committee paid us for the first five months in 1960, but after a while the Roseisle people started giving me $25 per month for gas. Back then there was no Conference Pastor. There was no sabbatical. There was no salary schedule.

During my time, I was mostly or partly self-supporting. I worked four days a week in house moving with my brother Henry. A couple of years I drove a school bus, and I served as an orderly occasionally at a nursing home in Carmen and at the hospital in Morden. For the final two years of my service at Roseisle, I received $250 per month from the church.

How did I manage to do this? The Lord was with us, and we did with less than people do today. Times were not easy for many people back then, not just for a pastor and his family.

After I left, the position has been mostly full-time, a salary has been provided within the EMC scale, and a house has been provided as a manse.

Katie got sick and passed away before I resigned from the pastorate in 1978. I was burned out.

The Lord was good to me, and I met Fran. We were married seven months after.

We stayed in Roseisle one more year, but not as pastor. I worked again for my brother Henry for that year. We then decided that I would take a two-year refresher course at SBC. Fran got a job as the Dean of Women. She had good experience for it, having served as Dean of Women at Bethany Bible Institute. In 1982 I graduated with a Bachelor of Religious Studies.

When the two years of studies were up, we went to Camp Arnes for four years. Then I came to Rest Haven Nursing Home in Steinbach, for the first five years as a chaplain/maintenance person and then eight years as a chaplain only. Fran went back to serve as a librarian and a secretary at Steinbach Christian High School.

Fran and I were part of committee that started Stony Brook Fellowship. I have been recognized as a minister in SBF, but am now retired.

 

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