From altar to ambulance

Burton K. Janes
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A career change for a Pentecostal pastor

Pastor Barry Hutchings has exchanged his Bible for a stethoscope. As an Emergency Medical Responder, his pulpit is now an ambulance.

It's not that the 50-year-old minister no longer has any use for the Bible. To the contrary, the Good Book continues to hold pride of place in his life. But he has switched careers at an age when many people are fondly thinking about retirement.

Barry Hutchings stands in front of an ambulance in Clarke's Beach. Hutchings, a long-time Pentecostal pastor, has made the transition from the pulpit to emergency medical responder. The Good Book, shown here in his hand, is never far away. Photo by Burto

Pastor Barry Hutchings has exchanged his Bible for a stethoscope. As an Emergency Medical Responder, his pulpit is now an ambulance.

It's not that the 50-year-old minister no longer has any use for the Bible. To the contrary, the Good Book continues to hold pride of place in his life. But he has switched careers at an age when many people are fondly thinking about retirement.

Instead of taking the spiritual pulse of his congregations, as he has been doing for 22 years, Barry is now taking the physical pulse of those who are facing medical emergencies.

Barry has lived in Clarke's Beach since 2004, when he became pastor of the Pentecostal Tabernacle.

For those who are unfamiliar with the workings of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, church members vote in a pastor for an initial six-year term. After that, he is free to allow his name to stand for an additional three-year term, again to be ratified by a membership vote.

Earlier this year, when his six-year tenure expired, Barry decided to let his name stand for a second term. However, the vote didn't go in his favour.

"Suddenly," he admits, "your career's about to end, your home and income are gone, and you're faced with unwanted change."

Still, he elected to remain in the town. His decision called for nothing less than a major career change.

Barry explains his motive for becoming an EMR. "You're leading in worship in a service on Sunday morning," he says. "Occasionally you hear a siren. It awakens you to the fact that there are many needs outside the four walls of the church."

He knew that, as an EMR, he could continue living in Clarke's Beach. "I love the area," he says with obvious pride, "and have a strong affection for the wonderful people here."

An EMR gives him what he calls "an avenue that enables me to continue to care for people."

As a people person, he has no greater desire than to be in contact with people. "I don't like the idea of abandoning the friendships and relationships I've made through the years."

Finally, as an EMR, he doesn't have to uproot his daughters, Katie and Katrina, who are nicely settled in the town.

A vocation as an EMR is a perfect fit for Barry. "Your first and foremost responsibility is treating medical emergency cases," he says. "You get to know them, showing them love and respect. It broadens my horizons.

"As a pastor, it's all too easy to focus only on people inside your church, whereas as an EMR, you tend to the needs of people from a broader perspective."

Having completed the online EMR course, Barry is now employed with a local ambulance service.

"The transition from pastor to EMR has been relatively easy," he says.

"For some years," he adds, "it's been my desire to go beyond the confines of the church walls, to be a part of the wider community, without reference to religious affiliation or social or cultural background.

"I'm now in a position to speak into people's lives from a new perspective, using a new paradigm. I simply want my life to be a message of compassion to the people I encounter on a daily basis."

Barry has been called many things over the years, including Pastor, Reverend and Man-of-the-cloth. But one of his latest - and favourite - nicknames is "Road Rev." You see, he's a biker, who takes great pride in his motorcycle. He and Paula are frequently seen driving the roads hither and yon.

"People recognize me as a minister on a motorcycle. Lots of times, when they see me coming, they'll say, 'Here comes the Road Rev.'

"Actually," he adds with a laugh, "I'm gonna get a patch with my nickname and put it on the back of my jacket!"

So, if you see Barry the Road Rev. and his Missis flying by on bike sometime, why not wave to them, for someday you may have reason to meet Barry the EMR?

Geographic location: Clarke, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • your pastor friend
    July 24, 2010 - 20:59

    This particular writing, brings to my heart a feeling of mixed emotion.wishing my brother and his family nothing but the very best-- absoutely nothing to say in a condemning way; but deeply concerned for the amy churches in this provience who will be without a pastor if such a trend continues. Far to many good Godly men leaving the work of the ministry. May we all strive to look after and support such wonderful men of God.

  • Pastor Ralph Benson
    July 24, 2010 - 15:54

    I think it needs to be clarified, for the average reader, that Pastor Barry Hutchings could have continued his career as a Pentecostal Pastor. The opportunity to continue his calling in another Church is the usual practise of PAONL pastors. While we as pastors understand the negatives and positive of our voting system I believe it is important to keep the BIG picture of what Gods Kindgom is all about in all situations.

  • CathyR
    July 22, 2010 - 14:15

    Way to go, Barry! Looks good on ya' ! You'll make a great EMR.