A Writer on Staff – Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Hi everyone, I’m Jamie! As part of my introduction as Generous Space’s newest staff member, Wendy asked me to prepare a post about some of my writing and publishing so far.

Ever since I was a kid I knew I was meant to be a writer. That was no surprise to anyone, as writing was in the family blood for generations. My grandfather was editor and owner of the local newspaper, handed down from generation to generation, started by his grandfather. Even my great-great-great grandfather was a renown translator of Italian classics into English. So when people ask me why I write, I simply tell them the truth: I cannot NOT write. I must write.

Yet my writing has also been something that has had an odd relationship to my faith. At 17, when I left home to follow my calling into the ministry, I let go of my dream. It was many years before I returned to the craft. By then I wrote about what was most central to my life- namely being a young Christian trying to discover what it meant to be a leader in the world.

The result was my first book, “Looking Forward: Facing the Future of Christian Leadership.” In this compilation, I invited various Christian writers and leaders to answer the question: What wisdom would you want to offer the emerging generation of Christian leaders? In addition to editing the book and writing a couple of the chapters, one very established and popular author placed his trust in me to ghost write his chapter for him based on his notes. While the book reflects a different place in my faith journey than I am today, I am proud of my first published title.

While I continued writing for magazines, websites, and my own (then successful) blog, it was several years before I wrote another book. By then I was pastor of Little Flowers Community, a church we planted in Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. The book, titled “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis, and Life in the Kingdom,” explored what it meant to follow Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount through the lens of St. Francis of Assisi and the story of our church’s early years. When people ask Little Flowers what we believe, it is often the book we point to as a starting place.

In 2012 I released a book of essays drawn from over a decade of blogging and writing called “Living Christ Together: Reflections on the Missional Life.” While perhaps my least known book, it represents a cross-section of my passions and calling, seeking to serve God in the midst of our inner city neighbourhood. For people who like to read short reflections, this is a accessible and yet challenging read. I also released a short ebook called “The Introvert Writer: Being Your Creative Best By Being Your Truest Self” which is available free online.

If “The Cost of Community” embodied what our community believes, my next book can be described as our philosophy of community. “Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick” draws from the life of the Irish saint and the wisdom of the 12 Steps of AA to invite readers on a path for fear & isolation, to community & calling. I was deeply moved that author, poet, and activist, Jean Vanier wrote a powerful foreword to the book. The following year I also released a short novella about St. Patrick called “The Sinner Saint” available as an ebook only.

Over the years I had been corresponding with two men on death row in the US. One of them, my friend Matt, was ultimately executed by the state of Mississippi in 2012. Before he died, he asked me to use my writing to help change hearts and minds about the death penalty. He also introduced me to his mother, Mary, who has become like family to me. The result was a novella called “The Last Verdict,” a story told through the eyes of two mothers- one the mother of a murdered daughter, the other the mother of the man accused of the crime. I am deeply proud of this work, which is also my first book to be available as an audio book through Audible.

I have continued to writing, with chapters in several other books on faith, community, and mission. Sadly, though, since my coming out as bisexual and affirming, my career within Christian publishing has all buy ended. However, that also freed me to write more honestly and publicly, leading to my coming out series that drew readers in 5-figures to my personal blog. It also led to an interview with CBC Manitoba that launched me into a whole new ministry, and ultimately to Generous Space staff.

In addition to my role as Co-Director of Community alongside Beth, I am excited and hopeful to bring my writing into the Generous Space community, whether it be the blog, on social media, or with larger writing projects. It brings together two aspects of my passion and vocation in ways I have always hoped possible. I look forward to sharing that journey with you all.<