Regional archives explores role of the church

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April 23, 2015 8:15 AM

Photo Submitted St. John's Anglican Church was the first church in the city. At the Lloydminster Regional Archives annual general meeting, guest speakers will discuss the role the church has played shaping the community.

Ever since the founding of Lloydminster by namesake Bishop George Lloyd over 100 years ago, the church has had a role in the development of the city.

The Lloydminster Regional Archives (LRA) is holding its annual general meeting at on April 28 at the Knox Presbyterian Church. Speaking at the event that evening are Pastor Tim Acey, chairman of the Lloydminster Ministerial Association (LMA) and Canon Michael Stonhouse, LMA vice-chair. They will be exploring the ways in which churches helped build the community in Lloydminster.

“Churches have figured prominently in the religious end and the social life of Lloydminster since 1903,” said LRA president Don Duncan. “I’m sure there are some interesting stories to be heard.”

Each year the LRA invites a different speaker to make a presentation about an aspect of local history. In the past, speakers have covered topics like prairie trade routes, the North-West Mounted Police and First Nations-settler relations. After presenting, the speaker takes questions from the audience.

Rather than focus on the histories of the various churches in the city, Acey will be examining the influence the ministerial association has had on the growth of the city over time. He says at first, the church was a vital and reliable institution with a central role in people’s lives.

“The churches were the constant. People come and go. People are very transient. Nurses come and go, teachers come and go, RCMP come and go, but the church stays. The pastors usually stay for years,” he said. “That’s why the church had great impact and still has up north because people tend to be weary ... of going to somebody who they don’t know and maybe (think), ‘Oh, they’re only going to be here for a year or two so it’s not worth getting close to them.’ “

Acey says in the ‘60s and ‘70s the federal government started reaching into these communities and supplanting services previously supplied by religious institutions.

“Before the government got involved in communities, especially small communities and reserves, it was the church that was the counsellor, the social worker, organized the entire community,” he said. “Then the government stepped in and ... started consolidating communities into bigger areas, bigger communities, moving people and then the government took over social work, health work.”

Although churches have relinquished some of its responsibilities over time, Acey says people still turn to the church for guidance. He says a common, but little-known, service pastors offer is counselling, and not only spiritual counselling but personal, psychological and career counselling as well.

“We are simply the moral watchdog of the city,” Acey says of the ministerial association’s contemporary role.

After the presentations are made the meeting will start. Nominations will be sought for the board of governors and in his remarks Duncan will be making an important announcement.

“This year I’ll highlight a very major development in that this summer we’re going to relocate our archives. We expect that in July we’ll be moving to the Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre,” he said.

“We’re at the point now where we can say it’s a done deal.”

The event is open to the public. A potluck supper starts at 6 p.m. with presentations at 7 p.m. followed by the annual general meet itself.

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