Think on These Thing: Living in understanding and peace

For many years I was the chaplain at Bear Creek Correctional Centre. You might think that it would be easy

For many years I was the chaplain at Bear Creek Correctional Centre near Clearwater. You might think that it would be easy for a minister/pastor to do the job, but there were some challenges. Men with associations with many different religions and Christian denominations came into the jail.

There were also many men in Bear Creek who, for one reason or another, either despised or were simply uninterested in religion. As a chaplain, I was expected to help all these men regardless of their religions or interests, but our calling wasn’t to “Cram religion down their throats”. We would either have church services for the men who wanted them, or make it possible for religious leaders from other groups to visit or lead services in the jail. I also brought inmates into town for services in churches and at the Sikh temple. I was served some mighty fine tea at the temple.

Often when illness or death struck an inmate’s family I was called upon to escort the inmate either for a visit, or to the funeral. On one occasion I took a young First Nations fellow to his grandmother’s funeral, and I met the grandfather who was a pipe carrier. I would not have had the experience had I not been a chaplain.

I also escorted inmates to cultural events. On one such journey I took some First Nation fellows to the old residential school in Kamloops for a pipe ceremony. That day, one of the men said simply “I hate this place” as we walked through the old orchard. “I would sneak in here at night to steal apples. I was starving. They would beat us if they caught us out of the building”. I was often torn out of my comfort zone, and it was not always a pleasant feeling. However, I did learn to be understanding and respectful of those cultures and religions different than my own. Yes, there were times when I felt that I could tolerate very little more, such as those times when my own faith was attacked. The jail environment was similar to the broader society. Different cultures and religions were forced to live together just as societies are. That doesn’t always mean that they always get along peacefully in jails. Race riots do, and religious bigotry does, happen, but usually the men tolerate the differences.

hat doesn’t mean that they are one big happy family! Understanding and tolerating different religions and cultures takes effort, whether in Jail or out in society. Being uncompromising on doctrines and still respectful of differing viewpoints is a struggle, but struggle we must, if we are to exist well together. I do wish that all those men had been of one faith or persuasion, but the likelihood of that happening was pretty slim. I do wish that everyone agreed with my religious views, but the likelihood of that happening is also very slim. There must be a lesson in understanding and tolerance in this. Especially in the Mid-East.

I brought away a treasury of experiences and understanding from my career with Corrections, which continues to serve me. While I still have deeply seated opinions about religious matters, I look back and thank God that I had the experience of working as a chaplain with B.C. corrections.

Just Posted

TNRD removes sand from Vavenby’s well

To help the crew in removing the sand from the well, a special “shovel” was created

Fire department holds open house

Public event held as part of Fire Prevention Week

Above and Beyond awards for heroes of fire and floods

Nominations open for British Columbians until January.

Winds gust to 111 km/h in B.C. Interior

Environment Canada says yesterday’s wind storm was a historic event

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

Most Read