September 29, 2019

The end of a weekend…and mid-way on the latest journey. Friday began with a lunch visit with a colleague, at the restaurant owned by a woman who used to do youth ministry at one of my former pastoral charges while I was there. Her and her husband own “Kavacinno’s” in Lacombe, Alberta. A nice little spot, and delicious butternut squash soup. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

I left Lacombe and headed east – destination, the Preeceville-Sturgis Pastoral Charge in Saskatchewan. Friday’s drive was somewhat uneventful – with the exception of learning how much less our neighbours east of Alberta experience highway maintenance. It became blatantly obvious as soon as I crossed the border!

I had a quiet night in what I would call a very rustic motel…but the price was right. I decided to stop at dusk, to avoid close encounters with critters. Am I ever glad I made that decision. The next day was critter abundant – and with daylight I could enjoy that. Within the first half hour Saturday morning, I encountered 3 moose. One alone, the others in a team…all running across fields of grain. Then throughout the day there were ducks and geese and hawks and magpies – all too numerous to ever try to count. A spectacular eagle flew alongside for a bit. A a deer sauntered across the highway – far enough ahead of me to let me enjoy its grace. Sorry – no photos. These wonders were all on the move!

I arrived safe and sound to a wonderfully warm welcome by my hosts for the evening – Anna and Miles Russell. Miles has been in ministry with the pastoral charge for close to 3 decades. We enjoyed a meal out in a restaurant in the village of Stenen. The building was once was a school – closed due to population decline, and purchased and repurposed into a eatery, social hall, and community gathering place.

Today I worshipped with the people of The pastoral charge – first at Trinity United and then at Grace United. Timing is a great thing – as I got to enjoy the tradition of last Sunday of the month potluck, followed by a quick trip back to Trinity to have our conversations about thriving congregations, and what the folks of this pastoral charge believe helps them to flourish.

I came away with another reminder of how vital an attitude of gratitude is, and how important it is to be missionally focused. There was also a great sense of community support. It is evident that the two congregations are really working together, supporting one another, and serving their communities, reaching out and caring beyond their walls, as well as sharing their spaces with the wider community.

And tonight…a stopover in Saskatoon. Only tomorrow will tell if the snow will let up enough to let me get home. And if I need to stay another day – maybe I’ll find a movie theatre for some Downton Abbey time!

Trinity United – Preeceville, Saskatchewan
Grace United, Sturgis, Saskatchewan

Author: Tammy Allan

I am in ministry with the Olds-Sundre Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada. I've served in a rural farm community, in a resource / tourist based community, in an urban city church, and nw back in rural ministry (over 6 years in this community). In August 2019, I began my 2nd sabbatical...the focus of which is to study what helps rural congregations thrive and flourish.

2 thoughts on “September 29, 2019”

  1. This seems an easier way of responding Tammy so that’s me. This looks like a wonderful trip of exploration as long as your weather holds. Here …. well the snow is amazing. These congregations certainly look and sound vibrant and thriving. I hope you were able to glean some sense of why or what has made the difference for them. Is it the stability of ministry leadership in this case? Sometimes that works doesn’t it? But other times it all depends on the congregation and it’s leadership and composition that really sustains a community. And at times it is the blend of the two.

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    1. Hi Jan,
      Some of it in this Pastoral Charge is indeed the stability of ministry…but also the reality that both of these congregations have opened their spaces to the wider community to use, and have offered really warm welcome in that regard. I certainly felt that welcome myself, for the weekend I was with them!

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