Archbishops’ Lenten reading runs gamut from historical to theological

Published March 1, 2004

Anglican Journal book review editor Canon Gordon Baker polled the church’s four metropolitans about what they are reading this Lent. While not strictly Lenten reading, here are their choices.

John Clarke revisits a faith journey

This delightful book is the autobiography of Canon John H. Long, priest and handyman at Bishop Horden Memorial School at Moose Factory, Ont. In many ways it is more than just an autobiography; in its simple conversational style it is a faith journey.

John left England as a young man headed for a farm in Manitoba. His seven-year struggle with farming was complicated by the fact he started in a time now referred to as the Dirty Thirties. He sold out in October, 1939 “on Friday the 13th.” Trained as a mechanical engineer, he put an ad in the Winnipeg Free Press.  He received a job offer to service diesel engines in grain elevators. John’s second interview was with the superintendent of the Anglican Indian and Eskimo Residential School Commission. He reports, “The most remarkable thing about the interview was that he never asked me if I wanted the job. He told me, in very definite terms, that I was going to Moose Factory for $35 a month plus room and board,” less than a quarter of the salary offered to him that morning.

The narrative relates stories of people in their daily struggles and personal growth. This was before electricity and running water. The normal heating system was with wood-fired furnaces and stoves. Horses, dog teams and boats were the most common methods of travel. Air travel in the North was in its infancy and the train to Moosonee only traveled twice a month. Intertwined throughout John writes of a people that he grew to know and love, the Cree of James Bay.

Throughout his life he exemplified servanthood ministry. This is a story of great faith, courage and love, and it happened in our lifetime. As Jim Watton wrote in the preface, “Canadian history is made by ordinary persons called to do extraordinary jobs.” This is one story that will challenge you as well as inform you about our church family. Archbishop Clarke is Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land.


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