When fire rushed through the village of Lytton and surrounding Lytton First Nation, ninety percent of the area burned to the ground. After weeks of wondering, we have now heard from the insurance adjuster that the St. Barnabas Church, hall, and rectory remain standing with surprisingly minor damage to the outside. We have not yet been into the building to assess the condition. Still, we can report that the local congregation will now be working with local officials to determine the best use of one of the few gathering places left standing in Lytton.
Incumbent, The Rev Angus Muir, and Warden John Haugen are busy working with local agencies to find ways to support the scattered people of Lytton and Lytton First Nation through this beacon of hope standing ready to welcome people home.
St Barnabas was built in 1922 to serve the Village of Lytton and joined the ongoing ministry of the Anglican Church in the region since the late 1800’s. Over the years, the parish has developed a strong relationship with the community and surrounding area serving as an evacuation centre during past wildfires, providing space for the local food bank, and serving as a gathering centre for many community activities. St. Barnabas is one of several churches that make up the Lytton Parishes and has been used as the winter gathering place for worship and congregation events. St. Mary and St. Paul Anglican church, located on Lytton First Nation land, was used as the summer worship and gathering space. (We have no news of St. Mary and St. Paul Church to report at this time).
The Fraser Canyon parishes continue to be a key centre for the Anglican Church ministry in the area. The Anglican Church was involved with the running of St. George's Residential School and continues to be committed to the journey of healing and reconciliation to those who lived with the sad legacy of the school through the Lytton Parishes. The Territory of the People has committed to walk with the Nlaka'pamux people and their neighbours to rebuild a strong community and invite others to join us.
Ernie Michel, Pastoral Elder in training, shared a story of his mother, well-known Anglican Church Elder Mildred Michel, praying a blessing over the land that would become the place of a new store in Lytton. Pastoral Elder Ernie spoke of the need for all people to gather for a day of prayer and blessings to the whole community in a "good way" before the rebuilding begins. A day to pray for the land, the animals, the fish, and the people who live in the area.
We need to recognize that the fire did not just destroy homes but also destroyed livelihoods and traditional ways of life that depend on the land and all living creatures. As this day of prayer unfolds, you can be sure that the Anglican Church will be called to pray with those most affected by this devastating fire. Lytton Parishes and St. Barnabas Anglican church will be at the centre of calling us to prayer and to support those who need us to stand with them as a beacon of hope in this terrible situation.