In reading about St. Alban’s over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that one person’s name keeps coming up as being influential in people’s spiritual lives. That person is Lois Petty, and this entry is about her journey at St. Alban’s.
Lois recollects that her youngest son, John, was five when the family moved to Scotty Creek. At first they attended St. Christopher’s in Clinton, and when it closed the family joined St. Alban’s in Ashcroft. The Revd. Selby Irwin was the priest when they came here, and it was he who confirmed John in Lytton.
Lois remembers the Revd. Lloyd Davies as being the leader who prepared the congregation to learn that baptismal ministry was the responsibility of each person. Lois says it “enabled us to be more deeply involved in the church and in our own spiritual lives”. She notes that the congregation changed and grew after that.
The term “baptismal ministry” acknowledges that each person is given gifts by our Creator to develop and share with others in the world.
Next was the Revd. Rev Jim White, and he helped develop baptismal ministry among the parishioners. He taught Education for Ministry (EfM), and this aided the equipping of many to live into their ministries. Lois recognized the Revd. Dan Hines as significant for the St. Alban’s ministry. “He opened a million doors and made us totally aware of our baptismal ministry!” she says.
It was Jim White who proposed to Bishop Jim Cruickshank that Lois should be ordained as a deacon. When he brought the idea to Lois, she looked horrified and said to Jim, “Not if it means I have to do more than I’m already doing!” Lois was ordained on November 30, 1995 by Bishop Jim, and at her service he acknowledged that the church was “finally catching up with and honouring ministries that have been going on for years.”
During her early years here Lois had a blossom ministry at St. Alban’s. She grew beautiful flowers, and each Sunday would share those flowers, “filled with love to the glory of God”, with the parishioners. She led Kids’ Club, and Jo Petty and Marg Lomond were great helpers with that. There was a vibrant Sunday school, of which Lois was the superintendent; she served on the altar guild for a number of years, was a hospital visitor, the Legion Chaplain, and even held the position of treasurer for a time.
She notes she was “the worst treasurer ever!” and when she announced she could not do it anymore, people came forward to carry out the role. Lois alternated presiding at Sunday services while Jim White was here; several years ago she decreased that to one Sunday a month. Now she calls herself a member, and occasionally presides when needed.
Three years ago, Bishop Barbara Andrews canonized Lois in a ceremony during one of our church services, and she is now Revd. Canon Lois Petty; but mostly we know her as Lois (or “love-embodied”, as one person fittingly described her).
Lois observes that “We have had many saints pass through our church, and their spirits are still there.” Bill Tuohey, Elsie Kincaid, Kitty Keyes, and Ken Lawn were a few of those saints, and their spirits live on at St. Alban’s. Lois remarks that there have been people dying of cancer who have come to spend time sitting in the church in the presence of those saints, and they experience a sense of peace in that place. “St. Alban’s has had the richest spirituality of any church I’ve ever worshipped in,” and she’s not alone in the experience of encountering Spirit as we worship, work, and celebrate there.
Lois recalls two characters in particular: Elsie Kincaid, who played the organ, and Kitty Keyes, who had a beautiful voice and sang at St. Alban’s. Elsie and Kitty were the best of friends, and Lois says that as far as she remembers, they are the two who began the hospital visiting ministry from St. Alban’s. Each week they would walk together up the hill and visit every person in the hospital. Their ministry lives on through Lois and other volunteers who regularly spend time at Jackson House.
Lois spends time daily in meditation and prayer, and stays closely connected to the Creator; when she is called upon to spend time with someone dying and their family, she never enters the room alone. She is attuned and guided by the Spirit, and comforting words are channeled through her to them.
Presently, in addition to visiting residents weekly, Lois leads a Bible study on Wednesday mornings and facilitates Adult Art on Friday afternoons at Jackson House. She often presides at memorial services, too, when a resident moves on into the next chapter of his or her life and leaves grieving people behind.
Lois has always had ministries within and without the church, and is still very involved with supporting her family members, her church, several bridge groups, and people in our communities.
Lois concluded our interview with the assertion that “God is a part of everything I do—even when I’m wicked!”