Free Methodist Chaplains serving the Canadian Forces

chaplain-badgeFour FM’s honoured in Canada

Only four of the hundreds of chaplains serving the sailors, soldiers and air personnel of the Canadian Forces are Free Methodist. All four were recently honoured and promoted.

This summer saw history happen in Cornwall Ontario Canada.  Brigadier General David Kettle the Chaplain General of the Canadian Forces promoted Lieutenant Junior Grade David Pahs to the rank of Lieutenant (Lt) [pictured below on the left].  David is a an active duty Chaplain with the US Navy on exchange serving the Canadian Forces Maritime Command (Navy) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was at the Chaplain Generals Retreat where all Canadian Regular Force Chaplains, Navy, Army and Air force gather once a year that the promotion took place.

david-pahsA native of Denver, CO, Lieutenant David Pahs pursued a Bachelor’s of Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado.  After completing his degree program in 1992 he went on to teach in the Aurora Public Schools for six years.

In 1999, Lieutenant David Pahs enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and where he served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At the end of his tour, he returned to Denver to attend Denver Theological Seminary to pursue a Master’s of Divinity; he also returned to teaching in both the Denver and Aurora Public Schools.  In February of 2005 Lieutenant David Pahs was commissioned into the Chaplain Candidate Program and in 2006 he began to serve as an intern pastor at Light and Life Community Church in Lakewood, CO Rocky Mountain Conference, Free Methodist Church.  David was given his ordination in May 2008.

Lieutenant David Pahs completed his Master’s of Divinity in August of 2008.  He later completed Naval Officer training and was commissioned as an active duty Navy Chaplain on January 20th, 2009.  David is presently serving on the Canadian Ship HMCS (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Toronto.  Lieutenant David Pahs has been married to his bride, Jerian for 14 years.  They have four small children and all happily reside in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The same night as the promotion of Lt Pahs, Lieutenant Commander (LCdr) the Rev Steve Merriman was honoured by the Chaplain General when he received recognition for his twenty-five years of ordained ministry [pictured below on the left].

steve-merrimanStephen Mark Merriman was born in Brockville, Ontario. After dropping out of high school in 1970 Steve worked at various factory jobs, Tim Horton’s, and played drums professionally in a Country Rock group. In 1975 Merriman married Sharon Toohey and together they began a journey of faith after attending a Free Methodist Church in Prescott Ontario. In 1977 Merriman attended Brockville Bible College and after one year transferred to Aldersgate College in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where he earned a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) In 1981 LCdr Merriman was appointed pastor for The Belhaven Free Methodist Church located in the town of Sutton north of Toronto, Ontario.

In 1985 LCdr Merriman received a Master of Arts in Religious Education from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and was appointed Pastor to the Parham and Cole Lake Free Methodist Churches at Godfrey, Ontario north of Kingston. In 1988 LCdr Merriman began the process of becoming a chaplain in the Canadian Forces. At that time the Chaplain’s Branch did not accept denominations that were not part of the Canadian Council of Churches.

Through his persistence the military chaplaincy changed its policy and in 1991 LCdr Merriman was accepted into the Canadian Forces as a chaplain and attended Basic Officer Training Course at Chilliwack, BC. On his successful completion Merriman was posted to third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry then posted then stationed in Victoria BC. During this three year posting Merriman served a six month tour in Croatia in former Yugoslavia. LCdr Merriman was then posted to the Navy again in Victoria.

In 1996, LCdr Merriman was posted to Winnipeg to the second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry. In 1997 LCdr Merriman was deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina with NATO. In 1999 Merriman was posted to the Second Language School (French) in Winnipeg after its successful completion was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia where he was promoted to his present rank of  Lieutenant Commander and assumed the responsibility of the Senior Fleet Chaplain. In 2001 LCdr Merriman was deployed to the Gulf region in support of OP APOLLO as Canadian participation in the ‘War Against Terrorism’.

In 2004 LCdr Merriman was posted to Norfolk, Virginia for a three year exchange posting with the American Navy. In 2007 LCdr Merriman returned to Canada where he assumed his current responsibility with the Air Force as the Wing Chaplain at 8 Wing Trenton. LCdr Merriman supervises a chaplain’s team of seven chaplains each who represent different faith traditions. LCdr Merriman has been married for 34 years and he and Sharon have three children serving in different ministry opportunities.

A week later at his home unit in Meaford Ontario Capt Michael Allen was promoted to the rank of Major [pictured below in the middle].

Maj The Rev Michael Allen was born to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Constable and Mrs David and Sylvia Allen.  As a young teen, young Michael joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadet movement.  It was during an Army Cadet course in 1978 in Vernon BC, while still an Atheist, Padre Allen received the call of God upon his life.  The next year he became a Christian while on another course at the 3PPCLI Base in Victoria BC.  Michael began to attend the Centennial Chapel Free Methodist Church in Kamloops BC near his home.  Michael later joined the primary Reserves where then Pte Allen served with The Rocky Mountain Ranger Regiment as an infanteer. 

mike-allenUpon leaving the Primary Reserves Michael earned his B Th at Aldersgate College, Moose Jaw, Sask where he met his wife Paula Engler of Salem Oregon.  They married the day before graduation in April 1987 in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.  Paula and Michael served as VISA missionaries in Japan from 1987 to 1990.  The Allens entered Seminary in 1990 at Western Evangelical Seminary, George Fox University, Portland, Oregon.  Upon completion of his Masters of Arts in Historical Theology Paula and Michael pastored St Johns Free Methodist Church in North Portland, Oregon.  In 1994 the Allens moved back to Canada and pastored the Free Methodist Church in Summerland, BC.  It was during this time that Michael rejoined the Primary Reserves.  This time as the Padre to The British Columbia Dragoons, an armoured regiment. 

In 1997, Padre Allen transferred to the Regular Forces and was posted to 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) in Petawawa Ontario.  While posted to Petawawa Padre Allen served with 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment, The Royal Canadian Dragoons, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment along with Medical and MP units.  In 2002 Capt Allen was posted to 1 CMBG, Edmonton Alberta.  There he served as a clinician at the base Mental Health Unit, then with the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.  He finished his time in Edmonton as the Base Chaplain and Chapel Life coordinator. 

In July 2006 Paula and Michael with their two sons Andrew and James, ages 12 and 13 respectively were posted Base Chaplain to Land Forces Central Area Training Centre Meaford Ontario.  Padre Allen has served in the Golan Heights and Kandahar Afghanistan.

The fourth Free Methodist Chaplain serving with the Canadian Forces, Padre Bob Lay [pictured below on the left]., was honoured by the Commander of the Land Forces Central Area, Brigadier General Collins with the presentation of a commanders’ Coin.  Capt The Rev Bob Lay grew up in the Centennial Chapel Free Methodist Church, Kamloops BC.  Upon completing his high school Bob went to Aldersgate College Moose Jaw Saskatchewan where he met his wife Jennifer Taylor of Ottawa Ontario.  Equipped with his new Bachelor of Theology, Bob and Jennifer began pastoring the Christian Fellowship Chapel in Kamloops from 1985 to 1990.  Bob and Jennifer were then appointed to the Kelowna Free Methodist Church in the Okanagan Valley of BC until his appointment to the Thornbury Free Methodist church where they have been pastoring for the last twelve years.

Bob-layJPGWhile pastoring and raising his two children, Brendan 20 and Elizabeth 17, Bob earned a Master of Theological Studies from Tyndale Seminary.  In 2008 Bob joined the primary Reserve as the Padre for the Lorne Scottish Regiment.  Capt Lay will commence his basic Officer Training this Sept 2009.  The Commanders Coin was presented by the Commanding Officer of the Lorne Scottish Regiment LCol TJ Orange.  Padre Lay received this in recognition of his outstanding work in support of the families of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.  These commendations are a rare thing in the Canadian Forces and even rarer before one has received their Basic Training.

With the addition of Lt Pahs and Capt Lay there are now four Free Methodist Chaplains serving the Sailors, Soldiers and Air personal of the Canadian Forces.

We thank God for our Free Methodist Chaplains and remember them especially today, Rememberance Day, as they continue to serve God through their ministry in the Armed Forces. May God continue to protect and guide them.