Memorable Manitobans: Michael John Victor “Jack” Shaver (1918-2001)
Born at Fort William [now Thunder Bay], Ontario on 31 October 1918, the second son of the Rev. James M. Shaver, when he was two years old, his father succeeded J. S. Woodsworth as Superintendent at the All Peoples’ Mission. The family lived in the manse next door to the Mission, serving the immigrant population of the area in the spirit of the social gospel movement. Shaver graduated from United College and was ordained by Manitoba Conference on 23 July 1942. He married Dorothy Hamlet of Fort William in 1944. They had five children.
For the first ten years, Shaver served two rural charges in Manitoba Conference (Murillo and Sidney-Austin), then seven years at Fort Garry United Church in suburban Winnipeg. It was during this period that his theological interest and skills flourished, nurtured by a small group of clergy regularly meeting to debate the writing of Tillich, Aulén, Bultmann, and Bonhoeffer.
Shaver’s next placement was in Vancouver, BC in 1959 where he served ten years as the first United Church chaplain at the University of British Columbia. His unique blend of ‘God talk’, affirmation of ambiguity, and commitment to even the most radical Other, made him the ideal person for the hippies, draft-resistors, anti-war advocates, and disenchanted of the 1960s. It was during this period that he integrated and developed insights from the existentialists and the social psychology of Martin Buber, Erik Erikson, and Norman O. Brown into his writing and presentations. He became a regular panelist on a radio program initiated by Roy Bonisteel.
He left the campus ministry in 1969 and spent three years on the Vancouver Metropolitan Council, an inter-presbytery urban council in BC Conference (of the United Church of Canada), where he acted as advocate, counselor, and janitor to the young people drifting through the Vancouver hostel and crash pad scene. He spent his final ten years in the ministry on the staff of First United Church, a mission institution in downtown Eastside Vancouver. He was elected President of the BC Conference in May 1979. He received two honorary doctorates, from the University of Winnipeg (1980) and the Vancouver School of Theology (1982).
He died on 21 November 2001.
We thank Bill Reimer for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 November 2014
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