Working 15 years with the American Red Cross taught the Rev. Hunter Ruffin the lesson that would later prove valuable in ministry — expect the unexpected. “It taught me the art of improvisation,” he said. “To be successful in that kind of role and in ministry means to be able to welcome interruption and to look for the gift in those moments.”
Even though Ruffin decided to become a priest at age 12, he knew he wanted to gain life experience first. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history, foreign language and literature from The University of Southern Mississippi, an MBA in international business and finance from Florida Atlantic University, and eventually an Master’s of Divinity from Seminary of the Southwest.
At the Red Cross he spent most of his time working as regional director in South Florida managing programs related to health and safety training, CPR, lifeguarding and others. “It was a good fit,” he said. “I got to travel and live in different parts of the country. I’ve always had a passion for what they do in terms of helping people meet immediate needs.” He also worked to provide relief during many disasters including Hurricane Katrina.
After graduating from Seminary of the Southwest, Ruffin began working at Saint Michael and All Angels as the Associate for Mission and Outreach. “This is a great ministry for being right out of seminary,” he said. “In the past year I’ve been to Cuba twice, Bolivia and Hondoras. He said Cuba was particularly gratifying because they helped a small Episcopal Church buy a church home. Before that the church was meeting in someone’s living room. Now they have a building with a nave, kitchen and nice outdoor garden. Saint Michael’s youth group painted a mural at the church and built a piece of furniture that could be used as an outdoor altar, or as a picnic table, he added.
In his free time, Ruffin enjoys distance running as long as it isn’t in the 26-mile range. “I try to run three times a week,” he said. “It varies from three miles to 12 or 13. I’ve done marathons but I just don’t like them. It takes away from your entire weekend. I can run a half-marathon and still go about my day.”
Ruffin likes to reload with tasty dishes from his own kitchen. “I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, which makes me a little weird in the state of Texas, because it’s the epicenter of meat-eating.” Ruffin said he’s been cooking since he was 11, and mostly likes to search recipes online and make whatever strikes his fancy that week. This week he made a homemade white loaf of bread. And he likes making soups in the winter. Right now it’s too hot, for soup, he noted.
His other passions are reading and adventure travel. “I like to go to far-flung places in the world and explore different landscapes,” he said. “This summer I went to Costa Rica and had a great time seeing the country and the people.”
Ruffin said he has enjoyed his year and half at Saint Michael and All Angels and looks forward to more missions and outreach projects. “It’s a great ministry for this season in life,” he said.