“Pastor Bear did it,” proclaimed the program for Lighthouse Fellowship Church of the Nazarene’s Sunday service. “Our pastor has been Rev’d.”
Barry Sigurdson was ordained as an Elder in the Church of God according to the rules of the Church of the Nazarene last Friday evening at Calgary First Church of the Nazarene. A number of his parishioners attended the ceremony with him.
He described his nine year journey towards this goal as a “struggle that’s been phenomenal”.
After his ordination certificate was read during Sunday’s service, Sigurdson said, “I am humbled … so many people have walked so far for me, with me, I can’t say thank you enough.”
Alluding to difficulties in achieving his goal, he said, “while I struggled people came alongside and took the course with me”.
Sigurdson told more of his story during his sermon which used the theme “Hoping Against Hope”, taking as his scripture the story of Abraham and Sarah from Romans 4: 13-25.
“When the Lord called me to the ministry of preaching, I said, yea, I’m a storyteller, entertainer.” But he added, “there’s more to it, so much I didn’t understand about myself.”
He recalled working on rigs and lying with two and a half tons across his back, stuck in the mud of Montana. “God kept calling. Pretty soon that quiet voice in the wilderness was gone and it was a 2×4 to the back of my head.”
Continually referring to his theme, Hoping Against Hope, Sigurdson said he struggled with education. (He later said he found out about five years ago he has a written language disability where he can see a picture in his mind but can’t translate it to written words.)
“I became a pastor, I didn’t know how to preach, what church was supposed to be.” But he believed “God’s promise to me was real”.
Speaking to the congregation he said, “You guys kept coming back, I don’t know why.”
He talked about another promise, that God would give he and his wife sons.
Mentioning his two autistic sons, Elijah and Josiah, he reminded the gathering of changes in them and their involvement with music during the service. That’s not normal for autistic people.
“Hoping against hope I tried to believe God has something for them … Every day is a new day, every day is a wondrous fulfillment of that promise. My wife, I don’t know how she put up with it, me and the boys. But she never stopped believing.”
Sigurdson said Abraham questioned. He admitted, “I questioned, I still do.”
“Hoping against hope, God’s promises are fulfilled. What are your stumbling blocks? What are you stumbling with?” he questioned. “God wants you to have faith … true faith. God’s promises do come true. They may not look exactly like you said they should be.”
All things are possible, Sigurdson said. He related trying to find one professor who would understand him. “I’m not dumb old Bear, I just don’t understand words that well, I understand pictures.” He found help from Jerry Austin who said, come to school early and tell me the story of the question, tell me the story of God. That’s how he understood something, he saw something in his mind. Austin checked questions and said yes, you understand, related Sigurdson.
He explained that changed everything, he had a part in changing the education system of a whole denomination. They accepted the fact that native type people, who make up 80 per cent of the world, are not good at writing things down, but have oral storytelling capacity. “It all changed because God would not quit, and I would not quit. When my faith was low I worshipped God and my faith was restored.”
Following the sermon, Rev. John Yoos offered a blessing for Sigurdson and his future. “Fifty-seven years ago this day I had the privilege of being ordained in the Presbyterian Church,” he said. “It’s a significant and wonderful privilege to be called by God Almighty to share. Rejoice in the world always.”
Asked after the service about what led him to the ministry, Sigurdson said there’s always been a feeling God had a plan for him. He suggested the oilfield accident in 1980 may have been the moment he was called to something. He thought it was to be a children’s storyteller, something he did for years under the stage name Ole Bear.
Sigurdson has been pastor with Lighthouse Fellowship in Sylvan for the past eight years. He grew up in the Sylvan Lake area where he has strong ties. His family homesteaded southwest of town in 1901.