Reverend Kathy J. Brett
Biography to be entered soon.
Reverend Emeritus Wesley Oake
Norman Wesley Pake was born at Beaumont, Long Island on May 31, 1922 to Tina Rideout Oake and James Oake.
Like many young men back then Wes had to leave school after completing Grade 8 to look for a job so he could help with the family income. At first he worked with a logging company near Robert’s Arm but later he moved on to Corner Brook where he went to work with Bowater’s Newfoundland. Wes felt even then that he was being called to ministry but another call came at that time, the call of his country. Wes volunteered for the Royal Artillery and was sent to England where he was assigned to the 166th Newfoundland Field regiment. These years are another story in itself. After returning in 1945 Wes was again an employee of Bowater’s. On September 25, 1946 Wes married, the love of his life, Myrtle Whitt of Robert’s Arm. He gives this woman much credit for all his accomplishments. As I spoke with him, many times he said to me, I would have never done it if it wasn’t for Myrtle. They lived in Glenwood for twelve years. Despite the many hardships they faced during those years, it was here that Wes surrendered his life to God and he promised at that time he would begin preparation for the ministry but it was delayed once again as he went into business. Chicken farming, a retail trade and a drive-in canteen service were now part of Wes’s life. However, he did become very involved in the work of the United Church. He had the first Sunday School in Glenwood, he had a trail Rangers group that grew so big, they started a Scout troop. He was also on the School Board.
Wes’s life changed on day when he received a letter from Dr. Butt, the Superintendent of Home Missions with the United Church of Canada in Newfoundland, asking him if he could be persuaded by the Holy Spirit to become a lay minister with the Newfoundland Conference. After much prayer Wes and his wife felt that perhaps this was the first step in accepting God’s call. The settlement committee appointed him to the Exploits/Lawrenceton pastoral charge which was a six point charge and so the call of Wesley Oake by God was answered. It was here that Wes decided he was going into the Ministry. To the astonishment of some members of the Presbytery, Wes submitted an application to be received as a candidate for the ministry. You have to remember this man had only a grade eight education. However because they were so impressed with his work, his determination and dedication, they supported his application and it was accepted in the only way possible — “conditionally”. Off to Mount Allison University he went, where he was told by a professor, “Mr. Oake you’re wasting your time here. You cannot possibly do it.”. To which he replied, “But Sir, I will do it. I’ll do it or die.”. And do it he did. There were many struggles but with the help of his wife and others he went from Mount Allison to Pine Hill Divinity Hall where he graduated May 6, 1965. The first time he had graduated from anywhere. He was ordained on June 11, 1965 in Gower Street, United Church. He was so proud to tell me that his mother was there to see it. Rev. Oake served in Springdale for a while but most of his ministry was done throughout Ontario. At one point he was asked to go on a tour labelled “Seminar to Eastern Europe”. They met with church leaders behind the Iron Curtain in the Federal Republic of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, Estonia, and Finland. A highlight of the tour for Wes was when he was asked to preach the Sunday sermon in the Prague Cathedral.
He also did work with the Christian Peace Conference which on one occasion had taken hi to Bulgaria. At the end of the Conference he was asked to give the closing remarks. With no time to prepare, he said he stood up and the words came flowing out, they came from the Lord himself, he said. A translator said to him afterwards, Brother Oake, you have just won a communist to Christianity. Your message is hope for the world.
There is no doubt that the calling of Norman Wesley Oake was a call from God. Rev. Oake and his wife have now settled in Gander but slow down he hasn’t. He continues to carry out his calling.