Owen, St. John (b. 1916)
St. John Owen (15 May 1916 (?)- ) is the leading Ojibway Indian pastor of the Pauingassi Mennonite Church in Manitoba. Together with his brother Jacob and cousin Spoot, St. John was ordained to the ministry in 1972. When the sponsoring mission board, Mennonite Pioneer Mission, indicated their interest in having a local indigenous pastor ordained, the local congregation responded by nominating first the above three, then adding a fourth, David Owen, brother to Spoot. All four served as pastors, with St. John giving the overall leadership and officiating at baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Jacob died on 8 December 1996 and Spoot on 13 March 1997. As of 1998, David and St. John continued to minister, although St. John's successor, Peter Keeper, has already been identified and annointed.
St. John Owen came to the faith following a series of Bible studies conducted by a Mennonite missionary, Dave Burkholder of the Northern Light Gospel Mission and an Ojibway local leader, Sam Quill of Pikangikum, Ontario. Although St. John did not make his commitment overtly at the meetings, he did so when he entered the workshop of missionary Henry Neufeld on 14 October 1964. His longstanding trust in Henry Neufeld was enough for St. John to share his quest for the faith, his willingness to abandon those aspects of "Indian medicine" which were harmful. In the words of Henry Neufeld "after St. John's confession and after our discussion, we knelt right there in the workshop, prayed and St. John came to the faith."
As a means of nurturing his faith, St. John met with his colleague pastors and other Christians of Pauingassi to read the Scriptures from the Cree Bible (the Ojibway New Testament was first printed in July 1988), deliberate on the meanings, and pray for strength. As part of their itinerant ministry among Native communities of northern Canada, Henry Neufeld and his wife Elna regularly returned to Pauingassi to assist the local leaders and the congregation with Bible studies.
St. John Owen and his wife Mary continued to make their living in the traditional way by hunting, fishing, and gathering wild rice.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 665. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Wiebe, Menno. "Owen, St. John (b. 1916)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O946ME.html.
APA style: Wiebe, Menno. (1990). Owen, St. John (b. 1916). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O946ME.html.