Sitting in the chaplaincy office at his local church Terry Loder was facing a decision.
“I’ve observed you these past few days, and I want to know, are you interested in becoming a deacon?” asked Rev. John Organ.
Loder, who looking back on the moment isn’t sure if he went pale or turned red, felt his ears get warm, face flush and was rendered nearly speechless.
Loder is certain he had a presence in the church since he was a baby. He had his first confirmation at age 11 and then became a server (altar boy) in the church as a young boy. He worked with parishioners, clergymen and the men’s service club.
Around 1995, Loder was asked to become a lay minister (a member of a catholic or Christian denomination who is not full-time paid clergy or not ordained clergy, but who perform the same or similar function).
“I went up to the reverend at the time, he had asked after a service if anyone was interested in taking on the position of lay minister, so I told that I wanted to take the position. I helped serve bread or wine during a communion, as well other tasks in the church.”
Following his completion of trades school, Loder went on to work as an insurance adjuster.
And while playing an active part in the church was always important, a career in politics wasn’t far from his mind.
“I got involved with the PC (Progressive Conservative) association. Then, as the 2007 election approached, I considered seeking the nomination. And so, I jumped in. And I was fortunate enough to win the seat from 2007 until 2011.”
Loder is the only provincial politician to run against long-time Liberal, recently turned independent, Eddie Joyce, and win. He collected 2,854 votes to Joyce’s 2,482 in the 2007 general election. Four years later, Joyce was back in his seat, defeating Loder 2,760 to 2,003 in the 2011 election.
Throughout his various careers, Loder said he kept in contact with his church.
In 2011, he lost his seat and began his work as an insurance adjuster again.
A few years later he learned about an upcoming selection for new deacons of the church.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it then, because it’s wasn’t really the right time.”
On Dec. 23, Loder was preparing for a service at his church. Rev. Malcolm, a friend of Loder’s, wasn’t at the parish to perform the service. Rather, Bishop John Organ was on hand.
“His sermon was really special,” said Loder.
He went back to church on Christmas Eve and met with Bishop John again.
A week later, Loder was asked a life-changing question.
“I’ve been observing you these past few days. I was so enthused by your devotions, I want to know, do you want to become a deacon?” asked Organ.
It’s not everyday you get called into the chaplaincy office by a bishop, reflected Loder.
“I was honest with him. I had thought about becoming a deacon before, but with the four-year schooling it wasn’t the right time. It was only after I made the decision to hold off, I learned they had shortened the process to two years.”
Organ gave Loder time to think about the decision.
“I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone but my immediate family.
Then a couple of days later, after further discussion, Loder decided he was going to follow his new calling.
“There was lots to do, and Bishop John worked helped make the process short and sweet, said Loder.
There were about five individuals up for selection. So, Queen’s College (the school responsible for teaching theology to incoming clergy) representatives as well as members of the local ministry interviewed Loder and other candidates.
It was a three day diaconal discernment even tin Corner Brook that ran from Feb. 14 to16. It is intended to assist the Bishop in directing an applicant toward future training and preparation to ordained ministry.
“They asked me about my careers, my presence in the church, various community work. Then they met and went over my assessment as well as an essay I had to write about my life.”
Sitting in front of the selection committee was nerve racking, Loder recalled.
“We’ve looked through your essay… you’ve had a marvelous life. We’ve made the recommendation that you be approved to be ordained. But that is up to the bishop and archbishop,” said one of the committee members to Loder.
On May 15 the day arrived.
“I was ordained at my church, St. Paul’s, with a big reception. There were all of the ministers in the area, Bishop John and Archbishop Percy Coffin, Rev. Malcolm (Palmer). My siblings, my wife, daughters and grandkids.”
Three days after his ordination, Loder performed his first baptism – on his seven-month-old granddaughter.
“She was the first baby I christened. I didn’t think I’d ever get that opportunity. It was very special.”
That wasn’t the opportunity Loder thought he would miss.
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to become a deacon. But I still have some good years ahead of me.”
Loder has been assigned to two churches – St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity. He will be responsible for baptisms, funerals, weddings and regular church services. He is also responsible for the ministery in two seniors’ homes. He continues to study theology to ensure he gets to the full teachings other deacon candidates receive.
“It’s been a calling, even if it was one, I wasn’t aware of. It seems like I have been preparing for this all my life.”