WORKING JOYFULLY FOR THE LORD
Portraits of Faith
About 60 years ago, a young man named Roy Rutty walked into the Toronto Central congregation with the goal of finding a church community to call home.
Originally from Jamaica, Roy’s family had moved to England. The family wasn’t New Apostolic, but they were deeply faithful and believed in the power of God and the love that can be found in a Christian community. When Roy migrated to Canada, he was instructed by his family to find a church where he could experience the love of God and continue to grow in his faith. There’s no doubt that God’s hand was guiding him, as the decision to walk into the New Apostolic Church that day would prove to be a blessing and pivotal moment for the growth of the New Apostolic Church around the world.
Roy found his spiritual home in the congregation, and was soon ordained as a priest. With a fresh ordination often comes a new level of responsibility, and Priest Rutty was no exception here. District Apostle Michael Kraus ministered to Priest Rutty, and subsequently commissioned him to go back to Jamaica, spread awareness about the New Apostolic Church among the people there, and establish a congregation.
A God-fearing man of faith, Priest Rutty took up his new task and headed south. It was on his grandmother’s land - the place where he had grown up as a child - that he established the first congregation in the Caribbean, Jeffrey Town, dedicated by District Apostle Kraus on August 1st, 1965.
This was only the beginning of the work. A new church meant there were seats to be filled, and Priest Rutty set out on his journey to spread the word of God throughout the community and invite people to come to church. This is how he met his future wife, Valva, who would be integral in this mission. He knocked on her door, as well as many others, and invited them to come to church. Priest Rutty believed in the importance of God’s word, and those who heard him speak of God’s love could truly feel it. Soon enough, the congregation grew into a bustling family, always looking forward to the next opportunity to be together.
Fellowship, togetherness, family, community, faith, and love - these are what made up the glue, the foundation, and the motivation that allowed Priest Rutty’s work to flourish in the Caribbean. You could always find people gathering at a backyard barbeque, sharing in community cookouts in any open area, or gathering in someone’s home where an entire meal was seemingly conjured out of nothing - just for the sake of being together. And this was incredibly important to everyone involved.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. This phrase is true in the sense of growing a new congregation, and also in the literal sense. When the Ruttys decided to have children, it was a community effort to raise them. Their family grew beyond blood relatives; neighbours became “uncles” and “aunties”, and they showed their love through continued fellowship, while also stepping in where help was needed when the missionary work kept the Ruttys busy.
The couple shared a profound and unwavering faith. They would spend years completing their work in the Caribbean, with countless soul-care visits to members and hours spent in the spiritual “vineyard”. Congregations sprouted across the country, most of which still stand to this day. And when Jamaica’s foundation stood firm, their assignment expanded to neighbouring countries including Bermuda, the Bahamas, and more, and the family followed in faith.
This faith was essential for their work and for their lives; it’s easy enough to preach about something that lights a fire in your soul, but these circumstances also required sacrifice - for everyone in the family. A minister gives up time spent with their family, often travelling in order to spread the gospel. The wife of a minister often carries an extra load and takes care of the home and children while their husband is doing ministerial work. These couples depend on each other in order to carry out their responsibilities, and many sacrifices are made, even when one loves their work. Yet throughout it all, Priest and Sister Rutty were steadfast in their faith and carried on with joy. Yes, it was hard; but it was never too hard. They were never too tired and they always kept on happily serving God. They could see the successes of faith in the growing congregations, and in the work that was completed by their spiritual leaders. The Ruttys knew that if they remained faithful, God would always provide; and He did.
After several years of moving around the Caribbean, it was time to return to Canada; their task in the south having been completed. Priest Rutty and his family migrated back and settled in Rexdale, where they handed the reins to other ministers, including Priest Lutz, Brother Philips, and many more.
It would take a novel to even begin to capture the innumerable works that Priest Rutty accomplished in devotion to God. To this day, his work in Jamaica and the Caribbean is still recognized and remembered with deep love and appreciation. This was shown when the church in Jeffrey Town rang the bell in Priest Rutty’s honour upon his death in 2003, and again in 2015 at the celebration of Jeffrey Town’s 50th anniversary. Of that day, the local District Elder Shorn Stephenson, wrote, “The celebration is not about us or the brothers from Canada and the United States. It is not an event about achievements or accomplishments. It is about the Lord’s grace and His journey with us over these 50 years: a journey of transformation. This is what we celebrate. We embedded this in the hearts of our members and they embraced it.”
Priest Rutty understood the value of the Lord’s grace and how important a role faith plays in each of our lives. As faithful Christians, we all strive to put God first; but it’s not always an easy task. Priest Rutty and his family are beautiful examples to all of us in our individual lives. Yes, it was hard; but there were no regrets. No matter where they ended up in the world, it was for the Lord, and that was enough for them. Even nearly 20 years after his death, Valva still dreams of Priest Rutty continuing this great work in Eternity, as he always did with ceaseless joy and faithfulness.
“When you do the work of the Lord, rejoice in it, and He will always provide.”
- Valva Rutty