From this article, you will gain a perspective from three people connected to St Alban’s—first, Bob Tuohey who considers St Alban’s the family church and from two people who regularly attend services, Sylvia Strathearn and Marg Lomond.
Bob’s reminiscences come from the time he was a small boy. He recalls that his mom, Hazel, forced him to go to church; it wasn’t optional. Despite this, Bob says he liked the “rigidity” of the church services and the expectations of not talking and sitting very quietly during services. A highlight for Bob was when he was able to ring the church bell on occasion. Bob’s mom taught Sunday School and he and his friend, Jimmy Marriotte used to attend together. He said Jimmy didn’t mind Sunday School but wondered why all this “God and Jesus stuff” was talked about there.
Bob attended Confirmation Classes at Mrs Petty’s house in Scotty Creek and after he was confirmed, he no longer attended church. He says, “I took a different path when I left the church.” After that, attending the Bean Supper at Zion United with his grandmother, Flossie Nesbitt, was the closest he came to attending anything resembling church.
“The church has changed too much” was an observation of Bob’s and he prefers the old way of doing church. He explained that he has a relationship with the Creator but doesn’t feel the need to go to church now. It was something his mom never stopped encouraging him to change his mind about.
In talking about his mom, Hazel, Bob said that she had to become an Anglican before she and his dad, Bill, could be married in the church. And there have been three generations of the Tuohey family who have been married at St Alban’s—Hazel and Bill, Debbie and Bob and Kelsey and Grant.
Hazel became what Bob called an “Anglican Anglican”. She organized teas and many other activities—the church became her whole life and she was devoted to St Alban’s. There is a light in the sanctuary that burns permanently in memory of Hazel that has been placed there by the Tuohey family.
The Tuohey’s consider St Alban’s their church and Debbie and sometimes, Bob, took their children to church. When Shamus was young, he, Josh White and Trevor Bennett were permanent fixtures on the back pew of the church during their growing up years. They were there again at Hazel’s funeral, occupying the pew now as grown men.
Sylvia Strathearn’s history with St Alban’s began in 1974, when she and Ron were married there by Rev Selby Irwin. Sylvia noted that she didn’t attend regularly after the Irwin’s left but when Ian was born in 1982, he was baptized there and she began coming to church more frequently.
When Ian started Sunday School at 5 years of age, Sylvia began to become more involved in the life of the church. She credits Lois Petty with mentoring her and teaching her throughout the years.
Sylvia notes that coming to St Alban’s has “kept her centered throughout all the difficulties in their lives”. She says something would always bring her back to St Alban’s and that attending has made her stronger and helped her a lot, especially in her darkest times. Sylvia says she learned about prayer—how to pray—and she’s learned to be at peace with things. She’s also learned that things always workout no matter how they might look at a given time.
Sylvia says there is something special at St Alban’s; she highlighted others who are constantly drawn back to the church whenever they are in town. She remembered Karla and her artistic gifts to the church, the community choir and a member who felt “something special” when they had a practice in the church and especially, Lois and Dan and the teachings that have been so helpful to her. Now, Sylvia says, she looks forward to Sundays when she attends and is part of the St Alban’s family.
Marg Lomond started coming to St Alban’s in 1974—the first time she attended, Rev Selby Irwin was priest and she and Kitty Keyes were the only two people at the service. Marg said he had a young adults group which she attended and then she continued to come to St Alban’s.
Joe and Marg were married in the Roman Catholic Church in Kamloops; after Joe got an apprenticeship at the Mine, they moved to Ashcroft. Marg says she went to Joe’s church but felt more comfortable in the Anglican Church—“it’s the same God but different religions”—so she continues to attend at St Alban’s. She said it is nice to worship in a familiar way and it is nice to know the same lessons are being read throughout the Anglican communion. And Joe occasionally attends St Alban’s for special services or functions and feels welcomed here—he’s an “honourary” member of St Alban’s.
Something Marg appreciates about St Alban’s, too, is that there are many different understandings among the congregation members but we follow the same faith tradition in our church. And there is room for all the different ways people believe without being judged for their beliefs.
Marg notes Lois Petty has been a big influence in her life. “Lois’ first answer is ‘Yes’—she’s always positive and is a good example for us”. Marg appreciates the fellowship in the church every Sunday—it helps to start the week with good thoughts on how to keep on the right path. She says a lot of people don’t understand church—that it helps you stay on the right track and follow the Ten Commandments.
Marg appreciates, too, that everyone has their own gifts which they offer to the church. She’s thankful to have Molly as our organist and loves that we sometimes sing some of the old hymns. Marg is comfortable with the changing ministry model at St Alban’s, saying Lois was the first when she was ordained as a Deacon and now Angus and Martina are on their way.
Marg enjoys going to church regularly and says she “picks up little things every Sunday”. She’s learned to “accept people and to be there for them, to accept what comes your way and to turn things over to the Lord”. “God is with us through the hard painful things and God is always with us”. All good things to hold onto . . .