Cut from the Cloth of Fogo: A Life of Teaching, Travel, and Ministry
By Stewart Payne
June 2015, 220 pages
Archbishop Stewart Payne, whose memoir Cut from the Cloth of Fogo: A Life of Teaching, Travel, and Ministry was published last year, is living proof that God calls remarkable people from everywhere, no matter how small or remote the place.
The book traces Payne’s humble beginnings on Fogo Island in the 1930s and his journey to becoming one of Canada’s most respected Anglican clergy. With modesty and humour, Payne describes his early upbringing on Fogo Island, his first trip to the big city of St. John’s to enter Memorial College, his teaching years at Indian Islands and Fogo, and the ministerial calling that put him on the path to a long and rewarding life of humanitarian work.
Payne’s first pastoral charge was Happy Valley in Labrador, followed by Bay Roberts and St. Anthony on the Island of Newfoundland. He went on to become bishop of the diocese of Western Newfoundland, and retired as metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada. Besides his role in the church, Payne has also been an activist for social issues affecting his congregation. When the Newfoundland cod moratorium was declared in 1992, he was invited to form a coalition with other churches to assist unemployed fishermen and plant workers. In partnership with other concerned fisheries organizations, Stewart helped form a committee to reach out to people in need, to listen to their concerns and to bring their issues before government.
From his early years in Fogo to his election as metropolitan, Payne tells his life story as a series of anecdotes involving the people who were with him along the way, including his devoted wife, Selma (née Penney), his equal partner in a lifetime of sharing in other people’s joys and supporting them in times of distress.
Payne said he wrote the book so that younger generations may learn from his example that despite having a difficult childhood-he grew up poor in a large family and lost his father at a young age-they can draw inspiration to follow their dreams and accomplish whatever it is that they feel called to do with their lives. “It is my number one reason for writing this book…that young people can learn from the past and have hope in their future.”
Sam Rose is executive archdeacon to the bishop in the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.