North Peace Anglican Parish celebrates 90 years

·3 min read

The North Peace Anglican Parish celebrated 90 years this past Sunday, burying a time capsule after their service.

The capsule contains letters from important figures from their past such as founder Monica Storrs. The parish was established in 1931 by Storrs, who arrived from England in 1929 to spread faith and hope in Fort St John.

“When Monica came, the depression had just started. She was ‘God’s Galloping Girl’ a pioneering missionary who got things started things started the Peace, as far as the Anglican Church goes,” said Pastor Christopher Samson during Sunday’s service.

The nickname came from Storrs' willingness to visit remote farm families by horseback, no matter the weather. She performed church services and Sunday school, and single-handly established Girl Guides within the Peace Region.

Storrs also kept diaries on her time here, commenting on the developing community of Fort St. John.

“During most of these years of the thirties, our Parish was suffering its full share of the almost universal epidemic depression. Our country for the most part was newly settled,” wrote Storrs. “These were times of great intimacy and material help – and we of the Church were able to help a little.”

Storrs belonged to the Agency of the Maple Leaf Fellowship, who sent her on her mission, with the organization providing necessities and supplies to help residents of the Peace. .

Churchgoer and long-time resident Mildred LeClerc knew Storrs, becoming friends with the historical figure after moving to Fort St. John to teach in 1950.

“She was very forthright person, very steadfast and honest. Nothing fazed her - when there was a need for help, she helped,” said LeClerc.

A letter from Storrs' niece, Libby Madden, was also placed in the capsule, who wrote it for the 90th anniversary.

"She was a person of deep spirituality and yet also intensely practical and down to earth, with a wonderful zest for life and twinkle in her eye," writes Madden

Storrs left for England in 1950 after 21 years of service to the community, and named her home ‘Peacewood’ in memory of her time in Canada.

The parish continued to flourish into the 1960s and 70s, with the introduction of Bishop Doug Hambidge, who also penned a letter for the anniversary.

"Congratulations and good wishes to the folks of St Martin's, Fort St John as you celebrate a very significant milestone in the life of our parish," wrote Hambidge. "There's so many good memories of our time there that it's difficult to know where to begin. What comes first to mind is a faith community of people who work so hard to be the church to the community around."

Hambidge went on to become the Bishop for B.C. and the Yukon.

Samson has been the pastor for just over two years now, and says a strong sense of community endures.

“I am hopeful. It’s harder to be a church in post-Christian world,” said Samson. “There was a time when school, grocery stores, and other places reinforced that identity. Now if people want to be a part of the church, they have to choose to step outside.”

tsummer@ahnfsj.ca

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News

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