Bishop of Athabasca with priest and parishioners

Fairview and Lac La Biche parishes reset following adversity and tragedy; emerge with fresh outlook and host of possibilities

Many people wore orange shirts to the 59th Athabasca Synod, on Saturday, September 30, National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

We were gathered in a small banquet room of the Chateau Nova Hotel in Peace River for much of the synod, which helped provide a sense of closeness and family, especially at times of worship.

The services and the singing were wonderful and, as is our custom, we started each day of synod with Morning Prayer.

Included in the response to the Bishop’s Charge were several conclusions:

  • We must hold onto Christ in our daily lives;
  • We need to explore new ways to share Christ with others;
  • Are we, especially the long-time parishioners, willing or able to let go?
  • If we go out and live our faith, we shall thrive.

Later, there was a chance for every parish to share information about what they have done and experienced. The following are two examples of the many that were given:

The parish of Dunvegan (Fairview) gave a detailed and joyful report, delivered by Shirley Lof. They are a small group. Several years ago, they decided to sell their church building due to cost. That turned out to a wise decision. They now rent space in the local Fairview Mall which is more affordable and has increased the parish’s visibility. They are able to meet people as they walk past the church space.

Recently, they began opening their space when the Food Bank is open, to offer coffee and fellowship and a listening place to people.

They also began sharing their small space with the Lutheran Church at different times, which enable the churches to give each other mutual support and maximise their use of the small space. They are a resourceful and resilient parish that does well financially, to the point of helping support ministry at the diocesan level.

The report from St. Andrew’s, Lac La Biche, by the Rev. Deacon Kevin Pederson and Kathryn Pederson, told of the recent tragedy of the church being deliberately set on fire. The fire was started in a locked church and in specific areas; the office and records were targeted and burned. Prayer books were stolen during subsequent break-ins. They had a problem with a tenant and every time they posted an announcement of a church service it was destroyed. However, people and other churches rallied around St. Andrew’s parish and gave or lent items that a church would need. The parish is looking forward to settling their insurance claim and new beginnings, knowing that God is with them, always.

Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .