Media coverage is sparking renewed interest among Canadians and even some Americans in the job openings for priests in the Diocese of the Arctic.
Bishop Chris Williams is hoping to fill nine openings. He placed an ad in the Journal last October but got little response so followed that up with advertisements in English church papers. British newspapers and radio jumped on the story. The result is two completed applications from priests in England. References are being checked, then Bishop Williams’ two commissaries will interview the candidates in England. If they pass muster, they will begin the process to obtain work permits. It’s unlikely any new priests will be available to work until at least the summer, the bishop figures.
A second wave of interest has hit since the Journal, then the National Post and CBC Radio and Television featured the story, Bishop Williams said. Four potential candidates had gotten in touch with him by early February, although not all were Anglican.
“I’m pleased at the interest,” he said. “It’s brought it before people, the whole media business. I’m not against people coming from Canada either,” he said, reiterating that he went to England only after the ad in Canada and an informal check of theological schools brought forth no candidates. “If we finish up getting people from Canada, all the better,” he said.
At least one American couple has expressed interest through contacting the Journal. Rev. Randy Beeler and his wife, Rev. Pam Rose-Beeler are both United Methodist Church ministers in rural Texas. They discovered the Journal article through reading about it on the Christianity Today Web site. Mr. Beeler said he realizes inquiries from two Texas Methodist ministers might seem “oddball.”
“When we feel something like this, we feel it’s a prodding of the Holy Spirit, and we tend not to leave any stone unturned,” he said. “Many times it’s vain imaginings in our own hearts but the only way to find out is by exploring it a little further.”
Mr. Beeler said he has been as far north as Siberia once before, but only during the summer.
“There are people out there who are longing to know Christ and striving to be faithful disciples in the harsh reality a climate like that would impress upon one,” he said of his interest. But at this point, the couple is only looking for more information.
“We want to learn the nature of the need and also to learn the realities. We don’t want to be idealistic about it.”