Hello, I’m Jim Harbell and I am delighted to be joining the Met team as a student minister on November 1. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to you.
Ministry is a second career for me. I graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in the early 80s and was a partner at a Bay Street law firm working in real estate development, energy and environmental law, with a particular interest in housing. Other work included the development of the Anishnawbe Health Toronto community health centre now under construction on Cherry Street.
While still working as a lawyer, I felt called to pastoral ministry and completed my Masters of Pastoral Studies at Emmanuel in 2020. My internships during this program included placements at Scarborough Health Network on different services including Psychiatry and Psychiatry Intensive Care, Spiritual Care and Palliative Care, Emergency and the Intensive Care Unit, and at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on medium-security forensics units.
Through this work and my past experience, my approach to ministry has become focussed on pastoral care and social justice/outreach. My call to ministry deepened and I completed my Masters in Divinity at Emmanuel in 2022.
I am a candidate for ordination in the United Church in 2023 and am in the process of completing one year of Supervised Ministry Education, or SME. SME is a final phase of training for ministers before they are ordained. Some theological colleges include an SME as part of their degree while others, such as Emmanuel, do not. For those graduating from Emmanuel, the final phase of training before ordination is a Supervised Ministry Education placement. The goal of SME is to develop and deepen a candidate’s competence for ministry leadership through a practical learning experience.
The SME takes place in a congregation. The candidate functions as a minister in a congregation, and has a ministerial supervisor appointed by the Regional Council and a lay supervision team from the congregation. Met’s Official Board will appoint the lay supervision team. My SME is in two parts. I am now in PEI at the Montague Pastoral Charge, and I will be at Met from November 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. My ministry supervisor for the entire period is from PEI.
Outreach work is a continuing passion for me. While at my home church, Rosedale United, where I first met Jason, I helped set up Rosedale’s Out of the Cold program in the Met facility, using corporate donations to fund the program and some of the capital costs to upgrade the Met kitchen.
While studying for my Master of Pastoral Studies, I became interested in prison ministry. As a result, I am now the founding president of Restorative Justice Housing Ontario, a new registered charity set up in 2019 to provide safe, affordable and secure housing, together with community support, for people leaving prison. As well, I serve as a Director of the United Property Resource Corporation (now known as Kindred Works), founded by the United Church of Canada to bring professional real estate knowledge to communities of faith.
My lay leadership experience at Rosedale United has been as Clerk of Session, Chair of Outreach, Chair of Worship and Music, and a member of the Ministry and Personnel Committee. Thus I bring to my ministry a substantial understanding of the interplay between lay and team ministry.
I grew up in Hamilton and met my wife, Pat McQuaid, in law school. We have four adult children and delight in spending time at our cottage in Prince Edward Island. I love to garden and when I write or present reflections, I find I frequently start somewhere in nature. There is something in nature that just feeds my soul and connects me to the divine.
One of my goals while at Met is to journey with each of you as you seek to strengthen your spiritual connections and as we live a life of faith in action together.