After almost a year without a minister, Paul Williams is being installed as the rector of Prince Rupert’s Anglican parish on June 17.
Williams arrived in the North Coast city for the first time on May 25. He brings 38 years of ministry work in Nunavut with him.
“All my ministry, up to this month, has been amongst the Inuit people, learning their language and learning their culture. In my waning years, I thought it would be nice to sort of check out another culture, another form of ministry and learn more about the church in the south,” Williams said from a pew in St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral.
While Williams is originally from Wales, he grew up in the Toronto area. When he was 14 years old, he said he felt a calling to ministry work. He met the bishop of the Arctic, who would sponsor him through his education and sent Williams north for the first time. His first official post was a parish in Hudson’s Bay.
Williams was invited to Prince Rupert when his current bishop moved to the Caledonia district. The Anglican parish in Rupert hadn’t had a resident minister in almost a year.
“We were getting helped by two of the clergy from Port Edward, who would come up twice a month to look after the services here. It was a great gift to this parish,” he said. “We are grateful for them. I think the congregation here is so thrilled to have their own resident priest again.”
Already, Williams said he’s been welcomed by the people of Prince Rupert. In a recent shopping trip to buy picture frames, he spent 45 minutes talking to the store’s staff about his recent move. He’s looking forward to getting to know them better and perhaps learn a new language.
“I got to the point where I was fairly fluent in the Inuktituk language. I don’t know that I’ll need the language as much here, but I do want to make the effort to try to learn at least the polite phrases, thank you and that type of thing,” he said.
Williams is also getting acquainted with Rupert’s abundant nature. He’s been without trees and spiders for almost four decades, and enjoys that the road connects to the rest of the country.
“I’m quite looking forward to the years of experience here. Yes, it’s the wettest place in Canada — I get that — but having come from a place with four months of darkness a year to this, I’m just thrilled.
“I feel almost already at home.”