Churchill 2011

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(“Clergy Supply” in Churchill, Manitoba — Part One)

Announcing an assignment in Churchill

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is there a dull moment in the life of this retired old cleric?  Evidently not.  My next adventure is about to begin:

I’m going to Churchill Manitoba for four weeks over Easter.  The Archbishop of Keewatin has asked me to give pastoral leadership at St. Paul’s Anglican church, in Churchill, from April 14 to May 9, 2011, and I have accepted the position.

The congregation does have permanent clergy leadership, but not until mid-May, so I’m going to tide them over until the more long-term person can come.

“Will there be polar bears?” you might ask.  That’s pretty much the first thing that I asked when the Archbishop approached me.  But the answer is, “not likely.”  Evidently polar bear “season” is in October and November, and while I suppose that it is possible that a bear may wander by now and then, they rarely come in to the town in April and May.  So, for the most part I will be doing what clergy are called to do anywhere in the world: preside at worship, visit the sick, comfort the bereaved, teach the faith, and participate in the daily life of the congregation.
Exterior view of St. Paul's, Churchill
St. Paul’s, Churchill
Manitoba Heritage site #95

Nonetheless, as I look forward to the project, it feels like a great adventure.  Churchill is a lot closer to the Arctic Circle than is Winnipeg; you can’t get there by road, and yet it’s a seaport; it’s on the shores of Hudson’s Bay and the ecosystem is mostly Arctic tundra.  The church is over one hundred years old, and has in it historic artifacts, including a stained glass window donated by Lady Jane Franklin, widow of the famous but tragic Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin.

I don’t know much more than that.  I’ve been in touch with a churchwarden and have a rough idea what my routines will be.  My travel has been arranged, and I shall be flying up there via a small regional carrier known as “Calm Air.”  There is a furnished Rectory in which I shall live, and I gather that there is full Internet access.

Heather will remain in Winnipeg.

Once, when I was in my 30s, I contemplated transferring to a far north diocese, and a much younger Heather, engrossed in raising our children, merely said, “I’ll be a good wife: I’ll write to you quite often.”  She likes warm places.  Even Winnipeg, where we live, is too cold for her.  Live any further north?  Forget it.  Anyhow, her law practice is pretty busy, and she’s already taken quite a lot of time away from it.  So I’ll be in Churchill on my own.

Will I write a blog about my stay there?  I’ll write something, that’s certain, although it’s unlikely to be of the length and detail of my recent Caribbean cruise diary.  And I will certainly post some photos here and on FaceBook.

Wish me well!

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map with Churchill pinpointed

Churchill on the Map.

The blue marker on the map shows the location of the town of Churchill, on the shore of Hudson Bay.  You can click on the map to see, in a new window, a much larger version – a map with the ability to zoom in close, to the town itself.  The blue marker has been set right in front of the church (and the adjacent priest’s residence).


from Margaret O., April 15, 2011 8:53:47 PM CDT (CA)

SO... You will be spending your 70th birthday on the Arctic Tundra! Good for you – may as well cram as much into life as you can!!


Margaret! you obviously have a very accurate and up-to-date listing of birthdays!  You are quite correct, of course, in both respects: (1) I will be turning 70 while in Churchill, and (2) I am living life to the full. — Tony

from Blair A., April 1, 2011 6:59:11 PM CDT (CA)

Fr. Tony:

I read, with interest, your item on your visit to Churchill.  It promises to be “Father Tony’s Excellent Adventure.”

With your contribution to your web page, we can all share, vicariously, in your work in Churchill.  It gives me, for one, something interesting and exciting to look forward to.

Good luck, and be sure to enjoy yourself.

CHEERS!  Blair...

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