During this time of COVID-19 there have been three (technically four but two were celebrated on the same day three hours apart) Ordination Eucharists in the Diocese of New Westminster. In order to get to know the new diocesan clergy I distribute a questionnaire, and if the newly ordained deacons would like to answer and participate they may do so. No expectations, totally up to them.
The Reverend Montegomery Tugwete was ordained by Bishop John Stephens to the transitional diaconate on June 12, 2021.
Many thanks to Monte for his participation.
In 50 words or less please describe how you came to faith?
I was introduced to Christ by one of the Scripture Union folks that come to schools in my native Zimbabwe as they are allowed to come do so there even up to now. It was in 1983, when I decided to commit my life to Christ because of this SU influence.
Was there a particular moment or experience that signaled that you were being called to ordained ministry, or was it a gradual development?
My call to ministry as a youth pastor was vivid and memorable to me because it came through a vision. Though I did not immediately harken to it because of my busy-ness running my own business, God eventually closed the other doors and opened the right doors for me to serve in youth ministry, 8 years of which 5 of those years was in an official capacity full time at a parish in Zimbabwe. And this is where through the counsel of the saints the calling to the priesthood was noticed. I had to wait for the confirmation which came as more and more saints confirmed the calling to ordained ministry and most of what I was doing academic-wise and continuous-learning- wise pointed to. Ordained ministry and everything just fell into place with good counsel, and encouragement.
How would you describe the discernment process, what surprised you, what challenged you?
My discernment process was deliberate and intentional, and it took a long time to get there. By my disposition I tend to front-end-load things and the last part of my process was particularly speeded up and it gently surprised me, which it should not because I had worked on things prior to coming into the process. The pandemic was challenging to the whole process because when COVID-19 struck all that was being done was in the field of “unknowns, uncertainty, and uncharted territory” yet by God’s grace we are here! Who knew ACPO would successfully be done online as was the pre-ordination retreat?
Describe your theological education? Do you think it has prepared you for ministry?
I have a Certificate in Theology, Advanced Certificate in Theology, Diploma in Theology, Bachelor of Theology (BTh), Bachelor of Theology Honours (BThHons), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS), Master of Sacred Theology (STM), and I am currently working on a PhD in Pastoral Psychology, Leadership & Human Development. This has prepared me thoroughly for ministry as I was also in ministry hands on as I was studying for most of these qualifications. I now teach some of these so my theological education backed with my ministry experiences have prepared me well for ministry.
Although it’s very early days, how would you describe your ministry style? Are there any individuals who have inspired, supported, guided you in your journey?
I am a hands-on type of person who desires to accompany others in ministry. I see myself as one who walks alongside others in ministry and accompanies them on a journey of realizing their full potential in life. I have personal friends, pastors, mentors, spiritual advisors, regular saints, and accountability partners who have accompanied, inspired, advised, chastised, and guided me on my journey and I owe them a great debt as I would not be where I am without their help. My take is that as iron sharpens iron so do we, one to another, and these people who have walked with me in this journey, God placed them there for such a purpose.
Which passage from scripture best illustrates your call to ministry?
John 21:15-19; where Simon Son of John, who is also known as Peter was asked by our Lord and Saviour three times, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” and three times was told, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and finally, “Feed my sheep,” speaks a lot to my call to ministry because right there in real time Peter was being commissioned regardless of the fact that he took it as a personal slight to his commitment to his rabbi. What mattered are the three words that were spoken to him after the question, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and finally, “Feed my sheep,” speaks a lot to my call to ministry as this is what I believe I am called to do and shall do it in earnest until I breathe my last breath.
How do you see your ministry developing over the next five years?
I am called to ministry as a worker priest, and I have one foot in the church and the other in the seminary teaching God’s called leaders to be best at what they do. In the next five years as I complete my doctoral studies now as an ordained deacon on a path to the priesthood, I see myself becoming a priest and a PhD holder who will be co-pastoring a parish with another priest and also teaching at one of the seminaries in Canada, doing what I love to do the most, seeing fellow human beings actuate to their full potential in the church and at the seminary.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” For surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell [and serve] in the house of the LORD my whole life long.