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Breakaway church one more 'adventure' for St. James expatriate
By Doug Snover

February 4, 2006

There were several paths Jack Bunting might have followed. One was the road west to follow dreams of cowboy glory, dreams fueled as a child in Pennsylvania while reading about Roy Rogers.

Another was the career of a military man, a path that Bunting pursued diligently for 11 years in the U.S. Navy.

There was a third path, too, one that crisscrossed the other courses of Jack Bunting’s life until they were absorbed by it and only one remained. It is the path that has led him to a single intersection of past and future, a road that soon will result in him being ordained a priest in the Living Faith Anglican Church that he helped create almost a year ago.

Jack Bunting’s path has seen many twists and turns. It began in Pennsylvania, in Orland, just north of Philadelphia, where he grew up dreaming of the Wild West and hoping to someday be a cowboy. The path headed west in late 1960s and early 1970s when Bunting was drafted by the Army during the Vietnam War but decided instead to enlist in the Navy.

The Navy sent him in 1971 to Ferndale, Calif., to learn about anti-submarine systems. Ferndale in the early 1970s had some cowboys, but it had other characters, too. “You had rednecks, you had cowboys, you had hippies and you had military people, too,” Bunting, now 55, recalls.

There also were young women, including one, Cathie, who turned out to be his future wife. They were married when, in 1973, the Navy transferred Petty Officer Second Class Bunting to a base in Iceland.

It was in Iceland, he says, that the spiritual “call” came to him. With the help of Navy chaplains and a local church, he and others formed a Bible study group.

“I grew up in the Lutheran church, but kind of dropped out in high school,” Bunting said. “I was searching for, ‘Is there really a meaning or purpose in life?’ ”

The Bible study group in Iceland grew until it was too big to host in members’ homes. “We never started to be a church, per se; it was just a group. But it grew,” Bunting recalls, “and it would have been the size of a church, but we didn’t call it a church.”

Bunting began ministering to Iceland’s youth in his spare time, working with them to combat alcoholism in a coffee house the group built inside a local church.

After Iceland, the Navy sent Bunting to Bermuda, where he again volunteered himself to a local church.

Eventually, Bunting was forced to make a career decision: the Navy or the church. The Navy was getting ready to send him overseas, probably to England, but he wanted to stay closer to home to be near several relatives whose health was failing.

In 1980, Bunting left the Navy, ending his military career after 11 years. “I was going down that road until I realized my real calling was to be involved with God,” he said.

One of his first actions in the service of God was helping to create a new church in Palo Alto, Calif. It was a non-denominational church, Bunting said.

“I’m not into labels. To me, it’s the beliefs and living that out in the community,” he said.

After the Navy, there was school. Religious studies that led to a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature, then a master’s in church doctrine and administration, finally to a doctorate of ministry and a comfortable life as a family man with a wife and two daughters in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Bunting was pastoring a church in Washington state in 2000 when, “I had the impression that God was leading us in a new direction.”

His wife found an advertisement for a job in Tempe, at the St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church on East Warner Road.

Cowboy country at last. “If you’re a cowboy at heart, you’ve got to have new adventures,” Bunting said.

“It’s like Wyatt Earp leaving Dodge and coming to Tombstone.”

So Jack Bunting, Pennsylvania boy and ex-Navy man, came to Arizona, quickly to pick up a copy of Arizona Highways magazine and anxious to visit Tombstone for Helldorado Days. And to begin a career within the Episcopal Church working for Father Keith Andrews, who helped found St. James in 1981.

The path took an unexpected turn last year when Father Keith and Bunting led a breakaway from the Episcopal Church to follow the more orthodox ways espoused by the international Anglican Communion. That led to the founding of the Living Faith Anglican Church, with Andrews as the priest and Bunting as an ordained deacon.

Bunting said he and Andrews chose to align with the Anglican Mission in America because the Anglican Church follows an orthodox view of the Scripture and upholds ancient church traditions.

Bunting said he also is drawn to the Anglican commitment to missionary work.

In fact, the Living Faith Church, as part of the Anglican Mission in America, is supervised by the Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda as part of the African church’s global missionary activity.

The Living Faith Church congregation has grown to approximately 290 members in its first year, Bunting said.  The congregation meets in borrowed space at Tempe Preparatory Academy on Southern Avenue just east of Rural Road. For more informatio, visit

Bunting will be ordained an Anglican priest on Saturday, Feb. 18. As Father Jack, he expects to spend much of his time with pastoral care. “My role (as Deacon Jack) has been more administrative up to this point,” he said.

Cowboy Jack still lives in Jack Bunting as well. The cowboy hat hangs in the door of his church office, alongside the white linen vestments.

He said he never has been able to talk his wife, Cathie, into getting a horse, “but we’re thinking of getting involved in one of the horse-rescue organizations. We both love animals.”


















































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