Lloyd Ryan was born and raised in Robert’s Arm. He lived there until he was 17 years old and in 1963 he left and started a career that would span over 30 years in the field of education.
“I left and went teaching in St. Anthony Bight in 1963,” he explains. “Then the next summer I went to summer school, and the year after that I was Principal in Brighton.”
After a year in Brighton, Ryan went to university, and began a trend, he says, that continued over the rest of his life and into today of furthering his education and reaching a level of academic achievement that few have attained.
Today, he’s Rev. Dr. R. Lloyd Ryan, and his five academic and professional degrees include two earned doctorates, undergraduate majors in Mathematics and English, and graduate majors in Educational Administration, Counseling Psychology, Educational Leadership and Research, and Theology.
He’s a published educational author with a book and numerous articles in professional journals. More recently, he has been writing and publishing folk stories deriving from the stories that he has collected from the oral tradition of people in Notre Dame Bay.
In addition to that, though, he’s also been recently ordained by The Unitarian Christian Emerging Church, appointed to the governing board of that organization, and lives in Beijing, China with his wife, Shao Ping, who’s a lawyer.
Some would say it’s a long way from the streets of the little rural Newfoundland community he still calls home, and could even argue that he’s lived somewhat of an interesting life. But even if they can’t, Ryan says he isn’t fazed by it.
“I’m interesting to myself, at least,” he says with a laugh, as he sits down for an interview that, before it was over, had discussed history, education, politics, policy and religion.
Ryan says his background is in the United Church of Canada, for the most part, where he spent many years being involved in many facets of ministry.
“I spent years in the United Church, and was very comfortable there,” he said. Most of those years he spent in Lewisporte – where he lived with his first wife, who passed away a few years ago.
While in Lewisporte, Ryan worked with the Integrated School System as a Vice-Superintendant.
“I was second in command,” he said. He had climbed his way up the latter of success in his field, and already holding a doctorate in his field, he was most certainly destined for success.
Then, in his words, things started turning for the worse.
“Some bad things happened,” he explained. “Things went on that I wasn’t comfortable taking part in, and because of that, it was made known that this wasn’t the place for me.”
Ryan says he took an early retirement at age 49 – giving up close to half of his pension and benefits had he stayed until his planned retirement at 55.
So, was an under-50 retired educator to do?
“I studied,” he explained. “I studied, and I wrote, and I studied and I wrote. That’s all I did all day long.”
Ryan’s interests started leading him down the education path in a new way, this time he was once again the student.
A second doctorate was on the way, this time in Theology. And it was this path that lead him down the road to Unitarianism.
“We’re in the process of getting organized,” the newly ordained Reverend explained. “We want to stress that Unitarians believe very different things, and that no set of beliefs will cover all Unitarians.”
However, there are some things that are considered universal amongst most who consider themselves to be a Unitarian, explains Ryan.
“We absolutely deny there was a virgin birth,” he said. “Totally, outright, it didn’t happen.” Obviously, he says, that’s contradictory to many other faiths that call themselves Christian, but Ryan says they try to be a place where people of different beliefs can feel comfortable and not feel pressured to believe one way or another.
Other things that some would consider foundational principles that are challenged by Unitarians are things like Jesus’ Resurrection after his crucifixion, whether Jesus was actually God, the existence of the Trinity and Hell, and the fact that the Bible isn’t the Word of God, as many churches believe, but rather just a book full of mistakes that has some good things to say in it.
When Ryan visits his home province, he says, he realizes that expressing his beliefs isn’t something that would go over well for some who have their faiths rooted deep in the more traditional version of Christianity.
“People in Newfoundland were very religious,” he said. “Especially rural Newfoundland – and I know that our beliefs don’t mix well with some people’s beliefs that we rub shoulders with on a day to day basis.
For now, he says, he’s happy with where life has found him, and he’s comfortable with the beliefs he has.
His election to the Board of the Unitarian church is for a two year term. He says during that time they’ll work to make their message more global, and become a more organized representation of the message they’re trying to convey.