Chris Hutton, Pastor, First Mennonite Church, Vineland. I've been there for 13 months (as of the interview date, December 2015).
What is your favourite pastime: reading, sports, outdoors, etc.
Heading into winter, my favourite pastime is going to be reading. I don’t do a lot of outdoors through the winter time, so winter time is hibernation time, to do a lot of reading, and watching a lot of films.
What is your favourite all-time or current Bible book, story, passage, scripture; or extra-Biblical book.
Oddly enough, after 14 years of ministry, I’m reading “Ten Commandments For A Pastor in a New Congregation”. It’s actually a great book. It’s got a lot of great principles for men and women who are going into a new church, because I’ve only been at First Mennonite for two months. There are lots of great principles in what you can do to start really well at a new church, as opposed to some of the mistakes that I think pastors can fall into when they come into a new church. I highly recommend the book. I’m just finishing reading it right now. I figure I should probably finish reading it within the first year of my pastorate. If I’m two years in, and still reading that book, it’s kinda defeating the purpose!
Biblically, I just finished reading 1 Samuel, and I’m into 2 Samuel now. I’m revisiting the story of David, and how Israel does when a king is in charge of things.
Briefly describe the series of events that brought you to your church, your current role, and ministry in general.
I finished up church planting with The Meeting House in Ottawa two years ago. I felt that Ottawa was our mission context, the place we went to be on mission because all our family is in Southern Ontario. After five years (in Ottawa), we really felt it was time to come back so our kids could know their grandparents, and just to be more involved with family.
Coming from The Meeting House, and being in an Anabaptist denomination that’s connected to Mennonite Central Committee, it made sense in our discernment process that we’d contact the Mennonites as well. I met with Henry Paetkau (Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Area Church Minister). We hung out and chatted, and I asked if he was looking for anyone that could lead in any context. He said he might have a few possibilities.
The First Mennonite was one of the church names that came across my desk in that conversation. They called me, we hung out, and had some conversations, and as we got to know one another, there was a sense of a “fit”, a sense of calling, a sense that we could really serve God well together. There were a lot of common, similar interests in serving people, and a big connection in peace theology. They were looking for a pastor who would be really immersed, and proficient in talking about peace theology. In The Meeting House, that’s pretty much what they’re all about. That made it a no-brainer. In terms of conversation, I was as excited about the dialogue as they were. So October 1, 2015 was when I started there.
Briefly describe how you met Jesus.
I didn’t grow up in a churched family; our family went to church on Christmas and Easter, and had me baptized as a baby. Around the time I was 16 or 17 years old, a friend of mine in high school invited me out to his youth group. I was pretty condescending towards Christians at that time, like many angst-y teenagers can be: down with the church, down with God, etc. But no matter what, he would still invite me out, and I'd have a great time connecting with people there. However, I would still mock church and still make fun of it. But no matter how much I mocked him or made fun, he kept inviting me out. It didn't affect his invitation, or the grace that he extended towards me. And I was impacted by that example. I thought, if that's what Jesus is all about, that I want some of that. And eventually, as we were just hanging out, I decided that I wanted to be a part of this.
As far as what I would call my first real, personal encounter with Jesus, it probably would have been in that youth group, just being there and getting a sense of everything that God had done for me, and gaining a sense of blessing and thanks. It was just feeling that Jesus was there with me in that experience, and me realizing that there was something to this, there was something real. That was the first moment when I felt something personal. I was definitely encountering Jesus in that moment. Which makes sense, he says where two or three people are gathered, there I am too, right? So it makes sense that if I was in this larger community gathering, that I'd be having a very personal experience of him in that moment.