The weekend, of Oct 31st and Nov 1, 2015, was very exciting for the parish of All Saints’ Anglican, Agassiz as we were honored with a visitation from the Right Reverend Melissa Skelton, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster. The Bishop’s visit coincided with the celebration of All Saints’ Day and the kick-off of the 120th Anniversary of the founding of All Saints’ Parish. All Saints’ Anglican church, Agassiz was built and opened in August 1896, on land (where the church now stands) donated by Mrs. C. Agassiz (founding family of the town of Agassiz).
The weekend began with the arrival of Bishop Skelton and her husband the Reverend Eric Stroo (from the Diocese of Olympia, Washington) on Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival they were treated, by All Saints’ Vicar’s Warden and Peoples Warden, to a tour of the area (Agassiz, Kent, Seabird Island Sto’lo First Nations and Harrison Hot Springs) before they retired to the Harrison Beach Hotel to prepare for the evening events.
On Saturday evening, a beautiful roast beef dinner catered by local caterer Cabin Fever Junction, was held at All Saints’ Hall in the Bishop’s honor, and attended by many of the congregation. Bishop Skelton said Grace before the meal and also made a toast to the 120th Anniversary of All Saints’ (“The Little Church That Could”). Reverend David Price (Vicar of All Saints) did an excellent job as MC. A speech given by the Vicar’s Warden (assisted by the Peoples Warden) covered the improvements to the Parish over the past 5 years and the presentation of handmade pens (crafted by one of the parishioners) were presented to the bishop and Eric.
Early Sunday morning, November 1, Bishop Melissa met with Parish Council to discuss plans for the parish over the next 5 years (which is a work in progress). At this meeting the Bishop was also given an account of the last 5 years and the physical resurrection of All Saints’ “The Little Church That Could”. “Like Lazarus, we have risen from the dead and remain His faithful servants”.
In 2009-2010, All Saints’ had sufficient funds to reroof both the church and hall and install new storm gutters.
In 2011, the parish of St. Agnes’, North Vancouver, donated $1500 to start the repainting of the building, and St. Agnes’ parishioners attended several work parties. Also in 2011, All Saints presented a Ministry Plan to the Diocese which resulted in the offer of a sum of $60,000 (2/3 grant and 1/3 loan). The grant kick-started many of the early improvements and thankfully, All Saints did not need the loan. Most of the work has been done by members of the parish.
The Bishop congratulated the council on their leadership in the work to bring about the many improvements to the church and hall and also the sense of vitality and openness she sensed there. She then attended a “Meet & Greet” coffee hour with members of the parish before the Sunday service. At 10am Bishop Melissa presided over the service, assisted by the Reverend Eileen Nurse, Deacon of St. George, Forth Langley. Bishop Skelton has made a point of making sure she is always accompanied by a vocation deacon during a visitation liturgy.
During the service the bishop confirmed four of our parishioners and a fifth parishioner was received into the Anglican Communion. After the service, everyone proceeded to the Hall where coffee, tea and cake were served in honor of those who were confirmed and received. The cake was cut by Bishop Melissa with help from the newly confirmed and received members. Following coffee, the Bishop took her leave, to head back to Vancouver, to prepare for an award ceremony (Order of the Diocese of New Westminster) Sunday evening, in which two, of All Saints’, Agassiz, parishioners were invested into the order.
All in all, the weekend will be fondly remembered by “the little parish” in Agassiz.
Written by Carol Taylor