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Christ Church marks milestone in Macleod

Bishop Derek Hoskin greeted people Sunday as they left Christ Church Anglican.

There are many important dates in the history of Christ Church Anglican, which on Sunday marked its 125th anniversary of service to Fort Macleod.
Bishop Derek Hoskin stressed that while construction of the church in 1886 and the fact it is still in use today is important, there is much more to Christ Church.
“Of greater importance to us are the women and men who have worshiped here over the last century and a quarter,” Bishop Derek Hoskin said.
Members of Christ Church Anglican celebrated those men and women Sunday with a commemorative service in the church, followed by a banquet.
The first Church of England service was conducted in 1875 by Col. James Macleod in the North West Mounted Police log fort on the island in the Old Man’s River.
Ten years later a church was built in the new townsite and an Easter service on April 11, 1885 marked the opening of Christ Church.
“Even though recent troubles had called most of the policemen away, the congregation probably reached 75,” The Macleod Gazette reported on the service conducted by Rev. Canon George McKay.
Rev. McKay was something of a character, Bishop Hoskin said.
Rev. McKay was studying in England when he was convinced he was being called to go to Fort Macleod and open a mission.
Rev. McKay travelled to Fort Benton, Mont. and as he prepared for the wagon ride to Fort Macleod was convinced to accept the offer of a gentle horse.
“A horse streaked with nervous sweat was led out of the corral,” Bishop Hoskin recounted.
To the surprise of the locals who were playing a trick on a “green” minister, Rev. McKay could not be thrown by the horse as it bucked wildly.
And so it was the new minister rode the outlaw bronc Satan to his new post at Fort Macleod.
Rev. McKay went on to become the archdeacon of Alberta, becoming the first of many men and women of the cloth to make significant contributions to Fort Macleod and Alberta.
In 1886 there was an explosion that started a fire that burned the church building to the ground.
“Some local bootleggers had all their hootch under the church and it exploded,” Frank Eden said.
Rev Canon Ronald Hilton in 1886 oversaw construction of a new church, which was completed in 1887.
In 1890 a 600-bell was donated by the Ladies’ Aid society. The bell served the church, and also doubled as the fire alarm and as an alert for lost children.
The parish hall was built in 1911. In 1924 water and sewer services were installed at the church.
The church sat on the ground until 1951 when a concrete foundation was poured.
In 1964 a passageway between the church and hall was added.
“Many men and women have called this their spiritual home over the years,” Bishop Hoskin said. “They served faithfully.”
Rectors at Christ Church include Rev. Canon George McKay, 1883-’85; Rev Canon Ronald Hilton, 1885-1903; Rev. F.D. Tymer, 1903-’08; Rev. G. Bathurst-Hall, 1908-’14; Rev. D.J. Watkins-Jones, 1914-’16; Rev. S.C. Gray, 1916-’19; Rev. W.J. Merrick, 1919-’26; Rev. Canon Gerald McComas, 1926-’27; Rev. F. Randall Powell, 1927-’35; Rev. Canon Robert Axon, 1936-’45; Rev. R.N. Holmes, 1945-’47; Rev. E. Geoffrey Flagg, 1947-’53; Rev. G.C. Dicken, 1954-’58; Rev. Ernie Doyle, 1958-’70; Rev. Ron Hunt, 1970-’75; Archdeacon Derek Hoskin, 1975-’87; Rev. Beth Aime, 1988-’89; Rev. J. Geoffrey Heald, 1989-‘1993; Rev. Michael Warren, 1994-’99; Rev. Noel Wygiera, 2000-’09; and Rev. Pilar Gateman, 2010 to present.
“How awesome is this place,” Bishop Hoskin said. “This is more than the House of God. This is more than a Gate of Heaven.”
“You and I are the precious stones, the living stones, which God is using to build a spiritual house.”