I was interviewed by the Kamloops Daily News this week. Here's the story as they printed it.
Evangelical pastor bringing Christian Values to Legislature
The Daily News (Kamloops)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Byline: Cam Fortems
Source: The Daily News
When the B.C. legislature reconvenes this fall, another person in uniform will join officers in parliamentary dress and MLAs wearing business attire. High up in the public gallery, Tim Schindel plans to watch the daily theatrics of question period clad in a clerical collar.
For Schindel, an evangelical Christian pastor who has lived in Kamloops for 13 years, wearing a collar -- normally associated with Roman Catholics or Anglicans -- is a new experience.
While he has never worn a collar, Schindel hopes its instant recognition will allow those in the legislature who will see him day in and day out to understand his purpose: A calling to bring the leadership of God and Jesus to the leaders of this province.
"Doing what I'm doing, (the collar) makes sense," Schindel said. Wearing a collar while he sits in the legislature is just one way that Schindel is making up the rules as he goes along. The provincial legislature, like those in the nine other provinces, three territories and the House of Commons in Ottawa, has no house chaplain. Schindel isn't in Victoria to fill a job, he's there to create one: to bring a stable Christian presence to any of the 79 MLAs who want it.
"We want to build a core group we have regular contact with," Schindel said of his goal as the leader of Leading Influence Ministries, a non-profit group comprised of evangelical B.C church leaders.
"Our goal is not to cram anything on them. There's no agenda beyond being an encouraging presence. We want to influence people to govern with excellence and with some values."
Schindel cites his experience as president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce as influencing his desire to bring the hand of Christianity to leaders.
He counts among his supporters Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger, a devout Baptist who lent his assistance to Schindel -- as well as a warning about the task ahead.
"He came to me several years ago," Krueger said. "He felt God was calling him to this ministry. I said it's a tough go. We have people of all faiths elected as MLAs. And some with no faith."
In addition, even Christians who may feel comfortable with Schindel have their own churches back home, Krueger said.
Schindel spoke to The Daily News on the same day that fundamentalist American preacher Jerry Falwell died. The controversial founder of the Moral Majority brought the influence of religious conservatives into U.S. politics. "Not my bag," said Schindel, an affable man who has worked most recently as a newspaper distributor after leaving the church in Kamloops where he had been pastor. "When you identify with a particular ideology or movement the issue of faith and politics really comes into play. . . . You're getting on thin ice," he said of Falwell's intersection with politics. Schindel's awareness of the issue is even addressed on this website, in a posting about the separation of church and state.
Instead of protests and demands, bullying and organizing, Schindel said he hopes to bring a quieter Christianity to the legislature. And one that is non-partisan. In a recent posting on the Leading Influence website, Schindel asked Christians to pray for provincial leadership on the pine beetle crisis and to alleviate flooding in B.C. this spring. Schindel said there are aspects of every party "close to the heart of God," whether the NDP's advocating for the disadvantaged, the Liberal party's openness and welcoming of people of different faiths and backgrounds and the federal Conservatives' traditional values on issues such as same-sex marriage. In the United States, government assemblies typically have a politically appointed chaplain, an official taxpayer-funded position. There is nothing comparable in Canada.
Schindel proudly notes that 10 members from both sides of the legislature attended a prayer breakfast he organized in Victoria this month. Several Sikh members also expressed interest, but could not attend, Schindel said. Schindel has his home in Kamloops up for sale and hopes to move to Victoria this summer with his wife, Barb, and three children, to establish his ministry.
Beyond receiving prayers and financial backing from churches and individuals in B.C., Schindel said the biggest positive omen was a last-minute chance to deliver the opening prayer during the throne speech in the legislature when the scheduled minister was a no-show. Within 10 minutes he was pulled from the public gallery to centre stage. "It was tremendously exciting," said Schindel, who is comfortable in front of a crowd. "You're front and centre."
© 2007 The Daily News (Kamloops)