Tuesday, March 14, 2006


A couple of weeks ago, Angelo and I were talking about an excellent short story he had written years ago. Many of his short stories are at least loosely based on events and characters in the little town we grew up in, and anyone from Rosenort would figure out pretty quickly that the main character in Still Partly Punk borrowed heavily from the identity of Ken Quiring, our town's only post-punk youth pastor.

In the course of the discussion, one of us Googled his name and found this fascinating profile story on his journey, with particular attention to the tragic circumstances surrounding his eventual departure from the town. At least that's what I was paying most attention to. I found it jolting to read an online reference to the event that defined the most painful time in my life, even though so many years have passed.


Heather said...

I have always appreciated my cousin Ken, from the day that I was a flower girl in their wedding. He and I have often found times to chat at family gatherings and get-togethers and he has taught me a lot. Ken was particularly influential while Ryan and I were preparing to get married. Without Ken's open-mindedness and gentle leading we may not have ever ended up being married. I think it is still sad that the youth of Rosenort have to suffer with missing out on a Youth pastor like Ken. I hope he is a huge blessing to all those that he connects with where he is right now. Thanks for posting the article Jer. None of us will ever be the same after that tragic day.

Lesa said...


That tragedy rippled all the way through to Vancouver that day. I remember Trevor was at my house when he got the news.

Thanks for sharing this, Jer.

Jeremy said...

I remember Dan talking about integrity at Tom's funeral, and that's also the word I'd apply to Ken, especially in his handling of that difficult time. He stepped up, in the deepest sense of the phrase, at a time when he was damaged as much as (or more than) the rest of us. He was true to himself, and he was true to the people who really mattered and were hurting most right then. No doubt he's still leading with same that integrity under better circumstances.

Angelo said...

One of the things that made that time so painful, for me at least, beyond the obvious grief of having lost some dear friends, was that so many people in our community saw it as an opportunity to finally get their message across. I remember someone (I won’t say who) saying, “When Jon died God was saying something… now he’s yelling.” Or something to that effect. Which is just absurd. I think Ken bore the brunt of most of that kind of thinking on our behalf. And for that I’ll always respect and admire him.

Jeremy said...

Yes, you've nailed it, Angelo. That was a source of pain that lingered long after the initial shock and grief subsided. I think that exact conflict is at the root of much of the bitterness I still have toward a culture that wanted to kick us when we were down, rather than using the opportunity to model compassion and love.

That's the choice Ken made -- siding with compassion and love instead of the traditional desire take advantage of our vulnerability to manipulate and indoctrinate. That choice alienated him from the conservative (and powerful) elements in the town and solidified his spot in our minds as a man of integrity.

Jeremy said...

For any of you following along at home, there was an additional string of comments here that probably dug in too far (for this forum, anyway) into the circumstances and emotions surrounding the accident. So, the participants (me included) decided to take it offline.

I like having discussions here, particularly around shared experiences and connections that benefit from the voices of several people. Diving straight down from photos of the kids (shallow is fine) to the deaths of friends (too deep) probably wasn't ideal at this point, but my hope is that there are lots of middle-ground shared experiences and ideas that do trigger conversations here.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on this that you don't want to put here, I'm pretty good with e-mail. Thanks to everyone who does leave comments, either regularly or just once in a while.

shamash said...

Jeremy: I read with sadness your entry, and the profile of Ken. I am unsure of the details of the tragedy, but know how difficult it can be to deal with those who prefer a more "evangelistic" message. Ken sounds like such a compassionate man.

I am now at home in Pennsylvania, and last week attended the Mennonite funeral of my Mennonite grandfather. (See "Split: Pennsylvania" at shamash.)

At the funeral, I was once again confronted with all that is Mennonite (conservative Mennonite), and my non-Mennonite friends who attended the funeral were shocked that I knew all the hymns by heart. (They don’t know how strictly I was raised.) Fortunately, the minister at the funeral showed the same compassion as the youth paster, Ken, did and refrained from an overtly evangelistic message.

No matter what, you can "take the girl out of the Mennonites, but you can't take the Mennonite out of the girl". Those hymns and verses from my childhood are buried in my psyche, and though I left the Mennonite church years ago, there is still part of me (non-materialism, social justice, peace, commitment to family) that still remains with me.

Last Sunday, I went to church with my parents: the first time in over 15 years. My father is the minister. As I followed along in my (borrowed) Bible, I realized I still knew where to find all the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

The irony of it all made me chuckle, for some reason. Me: with the pierced nose ("Is she a Hindu now?), my stories of the East, my travels on elephants. Yet I still know how to find that short little book of James that even the devout have trouble finding.

Life is funny... and coming home: surreal.

Sorry this is such a long entry. Perhaps I should post this at my blog, instead. :-)

Jeremy said...

Please don't apologize, Shamash -- I really appreciate this note. Sorry to hear about you Grandfather's passing. Your blogged account of the experience of being back home for the funeral is beautifully written. A wonderful tribute.