United Church of Canada ordinand Jason Meyers has found an interesting way to spend some long-awaited vacation time.
Since Friday, the Emmanuel College graduate has been walking from Toronto north to Barrie, where he’ll be ordained on May 25.
He said the nearly two-week trek is a chance to slow down and reflect on the end of his time at divinity school and the start of his ministry career. On June 1, he’ll join Metropolitan United in downtown Toronto as the new minister for congregational care.
“I think it’s important when going through pretty major transitions, to mark the time well, so that you can process where you’ve been and prepare yourself for where you’re going next,” he said.
“It would be really easy to just slide into full-time accountable ministry, but for me, I need the time to process all that’s happened, and how I’ve changed over the past seven years.”
Meyers has always loved walking and said it’s central to his own spirituality and how he encounters God. That’s why he is taking a more leisurely, roundabout route to Barrie — a trip of about 275 kilometres as opposed to a more direct 90, on trails and streets.
That translates to about 20 kilometres a day, with a rest day or two for reading and relaxing. He plans to stay with friends at night and will be joined by a couple people along the way.
“There’s something that’s important and beautiful that happens when you go for multiple days: you get into a completely different rhythm, more in line with the heartbeat of the natural world,” he said.
No stranger to long journeys on foot, Meyers said he has walked the Camino de Santiago a few times and in 2010, hiked the length of Ontario’s Bruce Trail for a fundraiser.
He started his ordination pilgrimage a day after graduating from Emmanuel and will finish in Barrie on May 23, two days before he officially becomes a minister at the Shining Waters Regional Council meeting at Georgian College.
When Broadview spoke with him on Monday, four days and roughly 70 kilometres into his trek, he was on the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, west of Aurora, Ont.
He said he’s grateful for the time out in nature and people’s hospitality, but is tired at the end of each day. He has also noticed a lot of trash. “What we’re doing to the planet becomes even more stark when you are faced with it like this.”
He also had a thoughtful sendoff. Rev. Ruth Noble, the engagement coordinator for the United Church’s Mission & Service fund, met up with him just before he started walking on Friday, outside Metropolitan United, where he’ll be working in less than a month. She was there to bless him on behalf of the entire church, which helped pay for his studies through donations to the fund. Mission & Service has earmarked $1.7 million in 2019 for theological schools and education centres.
“We wanted to be here to support you the same way we’ve been doing it through your theological education,” Noble said.
With a file from Trisha Elliott