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May16TueRyan Seguin didn't want to always be on the outside looking in. May 16, 2017 by Ken Ramstead
If I'm being frank, I don't think everyone is cut out to be a soldier,” says Ryan Seguin. “No one should sign up just to join the band, or because it's 'expected.' We need to have frank discussions when we can, and help people make a decision that honours God.”
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Born in Toronto, Seguin grew up in Kitchener, Ont. When he was 10, his Catholic parents switched to a Protestant denomination, which emphasized salvation through faith and the grace of Christ.
“I remember being enamoured with the fun and excitement our new church offered,” Seguin says, “especially in a contemporary worship setting.”
After graduating from high school, Seguin enrolled at Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in religious education, followed by a bachelor of history from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and a master's degree in Christian studies from Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.
“It was an exciting time for me,” Seguin recalls. “I was inspired by my academic success and by my professors, and I saw a doctorate in my future.”
Until then, though, he needed to earn a living. “After all that education, I was broke!” he laughs.
He applied for a Salvation Army posting, and within two weeks and two interviews, he'd landed a job as an interim children and youth co-ordinator at Guelph Corps, Ont., working alongside Majors Chris and Claudette Pilgrim, corps officers.
The Sunday before he officially started work, Seguin attended a worship service at the corps.
“I was impressed,” he says. “Having come from a Catholic background, the one thing I'd missed in my Protestant experiences was that liturgical feel. The Army offered that in abundance. Between that and the band and the welcoming people, the Army offered a perfect harmony of the liturgical and the contemporary. It felt more like home than I thought it would.”
“I agreed with the theology, so what was holding me back?”
“Becoming an adherent was a nobrainer,” Seguin says. “I was perfectly at home with the Army's theology and, within months, I preached my first sermon there.
“I had a lot to learn,” he smiles. “My first sermon was 45 minutes long, chock full of terminology. The congregation was very gracious—and patient! I found out afterward that Major Chris Pilgrim's sermons clocked in at around 17 minutes. I think I've got mine down to about 20 minutes now.”
Having versed himself in Army life, Seguin knew how important soldiership was to the congregation.
“I'd felt a bit like an outsider at the beginning and I was OK with that,” he says. “But I was the youth worker now and coming on to two and a half years, and I was thinking, Is this my home now? Is this my community? And if it is, what next?”
Taking the Stage
“I felt I was part of the community,” Seguin continues. “And I agreed with the theology, so what was holding me back from becoming a soldier?”
So Seguin started taking soldiership classes with part of his youth group.
“People were excited when they heard that but I didn't want to get anyone's hopes up; I told people I was there in order to field any questions the kids had.”
There was no pressure on Seguin, even as the course came to an end.
“Don't sign it now—talk to who you need to talk to, make sure you want to sign this,” counselled Major Chris.
“I respected that confidence he had in me and the sensitivity to the significance of the commitment,” says Seguin.
In the end, he signed the Soldier's Covenant the night before a Sunday service last May.
“I took the stage with all the other people who were becoming soldiers. The kids were pleased and so were the parents,” Seguin says. “There were even some tears, and that was meaningful for me.
“You're signing the Soldier's Covenant to be engaged in the mission,” believes Seguin. “It's a huge task, not for everyone. It's not a privileged status above everyone else. It's about humility—soldiership should be one of the most humbling processes of your life.”