Tell us a Story


A Coat of Many Colours

7 th January 2024
Jo White
All Saints, Lumsden (Plain and Valley Parish)

Jimmy and I immigrated from England with our children, and lived in Kelliher,
Saskatchewan, from 2007, for ten years.
Our church story from there involved going to a neighbour’s home every couple of
months or so to meet with a handful of other Anglican Christians and have a mini-
service led by Ken Buchan, who travelled all the way over from Yorkton for the
We had tried the local United church, which was quite lovely, but unfortunately between
ministers at that point. Besides, our home-based little congregation always involved a
pot-luck. It was no contest.
This neighbour shared many fond memories and stories of the little old Anglican Church
that stood only a couple of blocks from her home. She recalled most of the
congregation by name, and remembered the organist and the succession of ministers
who presided there. The old church had been long de-consecrated when we lived
there, and we believed we would never get to see the inside of this place so revered by
stories and memories.
As time went on, the little food-laden gatherings at our neighbour’s became less
frequent, as Ken, already retired, travelled less often. We sought pastures new and
found St John’s Anglican church in Fort Qu’Appelle. Warren Huestis was the new
minister there, and we were a new Foster Family with vast numbers of children in tow.
It was a good fit! Jimmy became one of the church wardens, and Warren and his family
became friends who visited us for supper sometimes, with their children enjoying
sleepovers at our farm.

The person in charge of diocesan property (Lawrence, if I remember correctly), learned
that Jimmy and I lived near Kelliher, and were driving down to St John’s each Sunday.
Our lovely neighbour who had hosted those small Anglican gatherings made the
connection, and introduced Lawrence to us. The shabby old Kelliher Anglican church
was a diocesan concern, Lawrence said, and thoughts of demolition morphed into a
tentative “would there be anyone interested in volunteering?” age-old church-related
The place was incredibly dilapidated, with two locked doors so rotted they just pushed
away from their frames. Now don’t tell anyone, but there was neither thought nor care
for Occupational Health & Safety; Jimmy and Warren were noble volunteers for the
cause, and work began right away. It was slow and painstaking as boards were
stripped from the upper floor where former ministers had temporarily lived. Downstairs,
across a very dodgy, spongy and sea-sickness-inducing floor, several pews remained.
The altar still housed a few unclaimed artifacts, and there were old cobwebbed and
dusty curtains around a small area to one side.
We found new homes for the salvageable pews in the community, and some of the
framed altar memorabilia found a new home home with our beloved neighbour; their
biggest fan. I took down the curtains and laundered them, wondering if they would
survive. They were old, and stained, and filthy. But they were also a beautiful high-
quality velvet, and after a few rounds through the laundry and a spot of hand-scrubbing,
they were restored to a vibrant, deep red.
I have been a keen hobby-seamstress most of my adult life. Sewing is my drug of
choice. Somewhere in the mid-1990s I had gone to an Ideal Home exhibition, in
Shrewsbury, England, with my Mum. There were a few designers displaying their
handicrafts, and one in particular caught my eye, with a stunning multi-coloured velvet
coat – long sleeves, mid-thigh finish, tailored fit – I fell in love! But the price tag put it
well and truly out of my reach.
It took a lot of years of building courage, confidence and cache, beginning with that
beautiful Kelliher church velvet, added to with many other story-laden fabrics, from high-
quality cotton velvet to lesser polyester velveteen, but I finally made my own version of
that coat. It is bold, bright and beautiful, and has undergone some alteration as I
(ahem) gained a tiny bit of weight. I wear it with pride, love


The Power of a Single Poster

     The small congregation of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Avonlea, recently shared some concerns with their Regional Dean, Rev. Deacon Arleen Champion, regarding the viability of continuing as a parish much longer, given the size of their congregation.  The town of Avonlea has three churches – United, Free Methodist and Anglican with a Catholic Church in the neighbouring town of Claybank.  All three of the churches in Avonlea are having sporadic worship services due to shrinking numbers in their congregations.   

     Discussion was had around the moral compass a worshipping presence in a community provides and the impact on a community of losing its worshipping presence and what that might look like for Avonlea should it happen, given that all three churches are struggling.  Acknowledging that there are other Christians besides the Anglicans in Avonlea, the congregation of St. Peter talked about ways that perhaps they might initiate some ecumenical worshipping opportunities in their town.     

     Further discussion took place as they gathered with Rev. Deacon Arleen for worship in November.  At that time, they planned their Christmas service for the Wednesday before Christmas – their preference so they can gather and celebrate together as a church family in ways they cannot on Christmas Eve due to people being away.  Previously there had been discussion about inviting the other churches to join them for worship anytime St. Peter had a worship service but there had been some hesitancy, being unsure of the reaction of the other denominations.  Rev. Deacon Arleen encouraged them to “test the waters” by putting up a poster in the Post Office, advertising their Christmas service, inviting the people of Avonlea to attend.  Judy Jordan followed through with that idea and someone from another denomination took a picture of that poster in the Post Office and posted it on the town Facebook page.The day of the Christmas service, the ladies were in the hall preparing for the fellowship time to follow worship and the men were in the nave to greet any guests who may come.  The ladies could hear lots of chatter upstairs – much more than the three men could be making.  What a pleasant surprise for them when they came upstairs to find a pretty full nave – only a couple of pews were empty.  People from all four denominations in the area were there, including the Ogema Anglicans.  The initial conversation as they gathered was about seeing the poster in the Post Office and on the Facebook page.  Much appreciation for the invitation and the opportunity to attend a Christmas church service in Avonlea was expressed. 

     Worship was enjoyed by all and the sound of many voices singing favorite Christmas carols in that little church was moving.  Following the service, almost everyone stayed for the time of fellowship and the chance to sample the wonderful array of Christmas goodies the ladies had prepared.  Everyone was enjoying the visit and no one was in a hurry to leave.  One person left to take her friend home but came right back saying she “did not want to miss out on the rest of the fun!”  Over the dishpan after their guests left, overheard was, “we should do this again at Easter!”  Rev. Deacon Arleen said “Yes” and “how about Ash Wednesday too!”

     One little poster brought many of Avonlea’s Christians together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We pray this may be the start of more shared worshipping opportunities in that community.  Who knew the power of a single poster!  Thanks be to God.   Sometimes stewardship can be so easy! Maybe this could work in your community too.  


“I was incredibly blessed and proud to be part of St. Mary's during the St. Nicholas Celebration because the event was an outreach of the purest form. It was an outreach that opened the doors of St. Mary's to the community to shed light onto those who, as you put it, had never 'darkened our doors’…the gospel was shared through a church tour, kindness was shown to those coming through our doors, and the Holy Spirit was moving in the unseen.  

I used to believe that the manifestation of the Spirit was akin to the outburst of emotions that were unexplainable or behaviours that otherwise seemed rather odd. While this may have some spiritual truth, what I’ve come to realize is that being filled with the Spirit is actually quite unseen. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control can quite often go unnoticed.  

With big events like the St. Nicholas Celebration, or even smaller get-togethers like our parents' bible studies, I'm so blessed by my faith. It was a beautiful thing to see the church full on Dec 3 with my family and friends for the brief service. It is birthing within me the evangelical spirit to see that on a more regular basis. My cup runneth over, and I believe it is time to spread the blessings I have, and am, receiving to those whom the Spirit is calling.”

Gratefully shared with permission from Terrence Williamson, St. Mary’s, Regina


"Recently I could not get my snowblower to start. As I was praying for wisdom and help to know what to do, J* (a neighbour that had previously helped me with a tire change after I had prayed for help) came over with his snowblower to clear away my back parking area.  As we chatted, he took my snowblower to his garage and said he would fix it.  I had the opportunity as we visited to tell him a little about our faith and to let him know how much we appreciated him.

The Lord continues to build this friendship from which I am praying that J* will become a believer in Christ and follow him.  Please join me in prayer for him through this season. 

*Name withheld for privacy

Gratefully shared with permission from John McGregor, St. Mary’s, Regina 


"It has been said that Anglicans are not ones to share their faith, but on November 21, 2022, this Anglican did just that, and felt very comfortable doing it.

I had volunteered to man the Christmas kettles for the Salvation Army.  My post was at the FreshCo on Sherwood Drive.  There is a long bench in the foyer, so I set up my things at one end near the kettle.  Not too long into my shift, a young man, sat down at the other end.  His hair was very red and unruly, and his clothes were in rough shape.  He started the conversation by asking if I had seen the Grey Cup game.  He then told me how he volunteers at the Real District in exchange for money towards his grade 12 trip to Europe.  He told me he has had a troubled youth at school and at home.  

We continued to talk.  I found out that he comes from a physically abusive home.  After hearing more of his story, I asked him if I could pray with him.  He agreed.  So I reached out to touch his arm, but he took my hand instead.  I prayed for him right then and there, something I had never done before.

After praying for him, we continued to talk, and he stayed with me for the full two-hour shift.  As soon as my replacement came, he stood up and reached his hand for mine.  I told him: “God loves you, and you are not alone.”  

I have never done anything like this before, but God guided me and gave me the words to say.  I have more shifts at FreshCo coming up, and I wonder if I’ll see him again.  Still, I will pray for him and other young adults, like him, as God leads me." 

Gratefully shared with permission from Brenda Gendall, St. Mary’s, Regina 


"Our St. Mary’s Christmas tree includes special ornaments called “Chrismons”.  These ornaments were made a number of years ago by members of the former St. Thomas Anglican church in Regina. Following the merger of St. Thomas and St. Albans, the Chrismons became part of the tradition at Holy Trinity, Regina. Today, we are blessed to have these beautiful, symbolic ornaments adorn the St. Mary’s tree.

The original idea for a Chrismon tree came from a Lutheran Church in the United States.  The process of making the Chrismons involved a commitment to abide by certain criteria including working together as group, to begin and end each gathering in prayer, to offer individual skills and talents in praise to God, and to make the Chrismons as gifts for the church for God’s glory as they were not meant for personal use and could not be sold.

Only three colours are used:  GOLD representing God the Father in all his Majesty; WHITE representing Jesus and his sinless purity; and CLEAR for the invisible presence of God in the Spirit.  There are also kingdom balls:  open spheres encircling a depiction of Jesus’ words, white balls depicting the “I AM” statements of Jesus, gold balls depicting the parables of Jesus, rectangular blocks reminding us that Jesus is our cornerstone, crosses depicting the Trinity and depicting the different names and prophesies concerning Jesus, just to name a few.  Among the beauty of the gold, white and clear ornaments, there is a lone battered silver ball which represents us, God’s children, reflecting God’s love, Jesus’ light and the Spirit’s presence."

Gratefully shared with permission from Shelley Baron, St. Mary’s, Regina


Deacon Arlene Champion shares a story about a rural parish’s Christmas tradition.  

“I was surprised when the parishioners of Avonlea and Ogema asked me to come and do a Christmas service for them during the week rather than Christmas Eve.  I thought it was likely because many were going to be away.  Not so and I feel honoured to have been asked into their Christmas ‘tradition’. 

There was only 1 parishioner from the two congregations who was not present but that was because at her age - it was too cold for her to be travelling from Ogema. The fact that they all gathered together was delightful.  

The service was well received and when I went downstairs after, to my surprise, they had a full turkey dinner with all the fixings, the table was set like we would for Christmas dinner at home and as we sat down, I realized, they like to do their service early and join for a "family" celebration of Christmas together.  There were traditions and memories shared with me over lunch from over the years.  Of course, they each had brought a part of the meal and it was all homemade right down to the mincemeat in the pie!  

Judy Jordan quietly got up from the table when she finished her pie and I thought she was out in the kitchen but then someone said, "Judy is suspiciously missing again this year" and they all chuckled.  A couple of minutes later, I heard bells and in comes Santa Judy with a bag of gifts she hand crafted for each of us.  Again, tradition for them.  

It was a delightful day and when they found out I was heading in to work when I got back, they sent supper home with me for us.  God bless them!!! 

This has reminded me that some rural parishes have adapted over the years to not enough clergy for every rural parish to have a Christmas Eve service and have developed customs around that and are thankful to have a service sometime that week and are finding joy in their celebration, no matter the day.  That is definitely this group."


“The week between Christmas and New Years is usually pretty interesting with kids home from school and everyone not wanting to do much of anything. On January 1, I had one heck of a treat come my way as my ten year old and six year old were playing in the kitchen together while I was working on my laptop in the living room while my teenager watched TV.  My ten year old walks over to me holding a plate of Dad’s chocolate chip cookies, a glass of red juice and holding a cloth over her arm.  I ask her what all this was and she just smiles and tells me I already know what it is....'is it communion?' I ask her.  She smiles even bigger and nods her head, 'of course it is Mom.'  She then proceeds to share with me the Body of Christ given to me and the Blood of Christ shed for me and she wipes the edge of the glass afterwards.  She was so proud of herself and so was I. I was shocked at how well she did each step but then remembered how much they learn through watching us.

I guess it reminded me that our children are being formed everyday in the way that we are showing up in our own lives."

Gratefully shared with permission from Jesse Leigh Johnston, Rocanville.