St. Alban’s Anglican Church celebrated a milestone on November 20: its 125th anniversary. Several dozen parishioners, community members, and church officials were on hand to mark the occasion.
The church was constructed in 1891, at a time when the village of Ashcroft—at that point only a few years old, but already a booming transportation hub—had 16 bars but no churches. A group of townspeople wrote letters to the various religious denominations in Canada, and the Anglican Church was the first to respond. It is now the oldest church in the territory.
Bishop Barbara Andrews, responsible for the Anglican parishes of the Central Interior, said that “In Ashcroft, a new Anglican Church is being born. It functioned in a historical way for more than 400 years, and the model came to us from England. But Ashcroft has always been comprised of frontier people looking for new ways to being the worship of God to the community.”
She mentioned various leaders of the parish at St. Alban’s, noting how they tried to bring the church in Ashcroft into new ways. “They wanted to know how to make the church a place of welcome for the whole community. It is a place that gathers everyone in, bringing a message of hope and encouragement to all.
“It’s about being really good citizens and doing good work for all. I know no other Anglican Church as faithful at praying for the community and the issues facing it. I believe in the power of prayer. It’s an ancient practice being reborn in a new way. When I look at those bright red doors, all I see is welcome.”
Martina Duncan, Lois Petty, Deb Tuohey, and Bishop Barbara Andrews can’t bear to cut the cake that Deb of Ashcroft Bakery donated for the celebration. Photo by Barbara Roden
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart noted that she has lived in Ashcroft since 1962, and recalled all the things the church has brought to the community. “How many things happen in this hall and church?” she asked, noting that she has attended weddings, funerals, art classes, music performances, political events, and more at St. Alban’s.
Ashcroft councillor Barbara Roden, speaking on behalf of the village, spoke of the importance the church obviously had for the early settlers of Ashcroft.
“At a time when they were trying to build their own houses, businesses, and lives here, they took to the time to build a church. And for the past 125 years, St. Alban’s has been a vital and vibrant part of the community. Those red doors will still be welcoming people in another 125 years.”
Former rector Jim White noted with a laugh that many years ago there were three places in the diocese he did not want to serve: Kamloops, Quesnel, and Ashcroft. “And I served in two of the three. Now the only way I’m leaving Ashcroft is when I die. Ashcroft has been very good to us.”
Martina Duncan, who—along with Angus Muir—was ordained as a transitional deacon at St. Alban’s in April 2016, pointed out a painting called “Aegean Afternoon” that has been donated to the church by local artist Royden Josephson. Another donation was a beautiful cake from the Ashcroft Bakery, which depicted the church in all its charm: steeple, stained glass windows, red doors, and all.