Brian (Alumni 1974) was commissioned as a missionary of the ELCIC on October 9, 1988, to serve the Fe y Esperanza orphanage of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador and as a liaison between Canadians and Salvadorans.
In 1994, Brian shifted his focus to HIV/AIDS ministry and assisted the Roman Catholic Archdiocesan AIDS team, including their youth drama troupe Luz de Luna, in conducting AIDS prevention/awareness workshops in parishes, and, together with FUNDASIDA (AIDS Foundation), in prisons throughout the country. From 1999 – 2011, with funding from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the ELCIC, he helped to develop Quetzalcoatl, a foundation that promotes human well-being, self-esteem and AIDS prevention among prison inmates in El Salvador. In this area of ministry he also provides pastoral support for AIDS patients and family members at Rosales national public hospital.
From 2001 to 2003, Brian served as Regional Coordinator (Americas and Caribbean) for the LWF International Youth Program, focusing on globalization and leadership. He also taught classes in the theology department of the Lutheran University of El Salvador.
Born in Grande Prairie, AB in 1956, Brian is the son of Rev Milton and Mrs Gladys Rude. A graduate of the Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in Outlook, SK, he studied at Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute and Augustana University College in Camrose, AB, receiving his BA degree from the University of Alberta. In May of 1983, he graduated with a MDiv degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon. Following ordination he served St. John Lutheran Parish in Wapella, SK, and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Calgary.
For the past 15 years, Brian’s prison ministry has focused on holistic–especially mental–health, especially with the gang members in El Salvador’s prison population (comprising about 1/3 of the total of 27,000 inmates), though also with non-gang members and prison personnel at all levels. Dynamic and interactive group seminars (15-40 participants) address psycho-social-spiritual themes such as dignity, self-esteem, gender construction, sexuality, preventative health, communication, addictions, awareness and expression of emotions, transformation of conflict, violence reduction, restorative justice, etc. Since the prison-based truce of 12 March, 2012, which has led to a broader peace process in El Salvador’s prisons and beyond, officially in a dozen municipalities, the national murder rate dropped immediately from 14 to 6 per day, and has held at that rate. Inmates are grateful for the new atmosphere of harmony and trust which they are enjoying in their prison spaces. This peace process depends on support and solidarity from all sectors of society, national and international, which is why Brian chose to stay in El Salvador and continue this ministry, though national church support was withdrawn in 2011/2012. The Synod of Alberta and the Territories has adopted the ministry, “In Mission with El Salvador” / “En Misión con El Salvador”, providing a channel for donations and solidarity.
Environmental issues, such as the effects of Canadian gold mining on water, air, land and community life, are also a part of this ministry of solidarity with El Salvador.
Brian’s home serves as a drop-in centre for folk from all phases of his 25-year life and ministry in El Salvador, a place of renewal and energizing for all.
Rev. Brian Rude was granted an Augustana University (Camrose campus) alumnus award in 1996, the Katharine Hockin Award in 2004 from the Canadian Churches’ Forum for Global Ministries in recognition of his contribution to global mission and ministry for the previous 15 years in El Salvador, and a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon in 2009. In the spring of 2013 he finished coursework for a Doctor of Ministry degree through the Toronto School of Theology, U of T. His investigation and thesis focus on his ministry: “Faith Responses to Social Violence in El Salvador,” a fascinating topic which he is well-placed to pursue.
Considering himself a missionary to Canada, based in El Salvador, Brian maintains his vision of widening and deepening the faith response of Canadians to all of God’s creation, especially the marginalized.
Though life and the world look much different to Brian now than when he graduated from LCBI in 1974, he is grateful for the solid faith base, the broad community of friends and an even deeper appreciation for music with which LCBI enriched him–and his mother Gladys (nee Wig) before him, graduating in 1946 and which continue to undergird him in life and ministry.