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Biography – Rev. Dr. Michael J. Pryse B.A, M.Div., D.D.
On October 31, 1959 a date commemorating the beginning of Luther’s Reformation, Michael John Pryse was born in Toronto, Ontario. At age two he was adopted and moved to Kitchener, Ontario where was baptized at St. Philip Evangelical Lutheran Church. After completing his primary and elementary education, he attended Eastwood Collegiate. Upon graduation he studied at Wilfrid Laurier University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in History and English. He subsequently enrolled in Waterloo Lutheran Seminary graduating in 1985 with a Master of Divinity degree earning a Graduate Gold Medal for Academic Excellence.
Following his ordination on June 7, 1985 he served as pastor in Mildmay, Neustadt and Burlington, Ontario and then as Assistant to the Bishop of Eastern Synod. He has served as a member of the ELCIC National Church Council and the Board of Directors of Canadian Lutheran World Relief. In 1998 he was elected to serve as Bishop of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, one of the youngest persons ever to be elected to episcopal office in North America.
Bishop Pryse is fervently committed to the cause of Christian unity and is a strong advocate for increased ecumenical and multi-faith co-operation. He has co-chaired the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission since 2001. Bishop Pryse’s grandfather, a Baptist clergyman who emigrated from the United Kingdom in 1930 and did much of his ministry among the six Nations peoples in Canada, was a formative influence in his life. In 1965, in recognition of his work among the Six Nations peoples, Bishop Pryse’s grandfather was inducted into the Cayuga band and given the name Haw we nye so wane, which translates in English as Big Heart. This example and his experience of being adopted into a loving family, has fuelled Bishop Pryse’s desire to break down the walls that divide members of the human family.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, Bishop Pryse was one of the first Christian leaders to express solidarity with Muslim leaders in the face of the hurtful interpretations of Islam. He has initiated numerous dialogues with Christian clergy and Muslim and Jewish leaders. He has travelled extensively in many parts of the world on church delegations to strengthen development partnerships that address basic human rights in places such as India, Guyana, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ethiopia and the Holy Land, to mention only a few. He supports the public responsibility of the churches and has actively addressed issues of global justice, human rights, international development and issues related to the full inclusivity of all people.
Bishop Pryse leads the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, which established the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in 1911 and Waterloo College in 1925, and which became Waterloo Lutheran University in 1959 and Wilfrid Laurier University in 1973. In 2011, Wilfrid Laurier University awarded Bishop Pryse an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition his distinguished leadership in a wide range of public, ecumenical and multi-faith arenas.
Bishop Pryse and his wife Lois are the parents of four daughters and two grandchildren and presently reside in Kitchener, Ontario.
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