A local church will be holding a special ceremony in January.
Stettler’s St. George’s Anglican Church will be celebrating the ordination of recent community returnee Brent Schulze on Jan. 25.
The ordination, the first in the Stettler church in over three decades, has a Schulze family connection as well; the last person to be ordained in the church was Jack Schulze, Brent’s father, when he was ordained a Deacon in September 1992.
Jack Schulze went on to be ordained as a priest in a May 1993 ceremony in Calgary before he took the helm of St. George’s parish for five years.
After growing up in Stettler, the younger Schulze spent over three decades working abroad in the oil and gas industry before returning home.
During this time, Schulze spent time in Africa, Iraq, as well as locations closer to home such as the arctic, Alaska and in the continental United States.
Schulze, a life-long Anglican, says that he had felt the call to ministry many times over the years, but each time he would find himself on another global assignment before he could answer the call.
“In Africa, we were working on a World Bank initiative,” said Schulze.
“In Chad, we were trying to find something to generate revenue for the country.”
Schulze notes that in the country the poor people lived in grass huts, and even the more affluent only lived in mud huts.
“All they had for sale was oil.”
As the initiative Brent worked on grew in the six years he remained on the project, his team developed some producing wells, which made it possible to help pay for schools, hospitals, and drill some fresh-water wells as well.
According to Schulze, at the time the team was on the project in the mid 2000s, the average life expectancy in the country was only 32 years, for a variety of reasons.
The project took place a decade after a civil war threatened to tear the country apart and with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) being epidemic the orphanages were full of children whose parents died of the disease.
In addition to the oil and gas portion of the project, the team Schulze worked on helped teach the locals how to prevent the spread of AIDS and minimize the effects of malaria, another illness which kills many people every year in that part of the world.
Where many projects of this type would be set up separately from the communities they were working in, Schulze says in this case the team actually joined the community and tried to “give them some hope.”
Schulze says that the Africa experience, along with all his other world experiences, finally set him up for his place in ministry, noting that every place he went “people struggle to find hope.”
“The reasons are different,” said Schulze.
“They all struggle with different issues. The mother in Africa struggles to feed her children … In Iraq they hope for peace. People are the same; they hope for something better.”
Schulze says that the call to ministry was “something that works on you” over time, and despite feeling the call over the years he now realizes he wasn’t ready before now.
He added that his experiences over the last 34 years have enhanced his empathy and compassion for finally getting the call to ministry.
“It makes me look at the world and everyone differently,” said Schulze.
“People need to have faith in something; to have hope. I’m here to help people find faith. You don’t have to struggle alone … I think the world needs to listen more.”
The process to become an ordained Anglican Priest has not been quick or easy.
Schulze has had to undergo numerous interviews and courses within the church organization as well as meetings with parish members. The first step in the process of becoming a priest is being ordained as a Deacon, which, as Schulze puts it, is a “minister to the people.”
As a Deacon, Schulze was then able to work under another priest, in this case St. George’s Anglican Church’s soon to be retiring Rev. David Holmes. While a Deacon is able to do a lot of aspects of the job, they are unable to do the Holy Sacraments, though they can assist with them.
Once Rev. Holmes retires, Schulze will be taking his place as the new reverend of the church.
“There was an opportunity to step in,” said Schulze.
“It’s pretty special to have the ordination in the parish.”
The St. George’s Anglican Church ordination ceremony confirming Schulze as a priest will take place Wed, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m., and community members are welcome.