I had the opportunity to visit St. John the Baptist, Anglican Church. This is a small parish in Watson Lake along the Alaska Highway. This congregation is very small in number. According to the rules in other places in Canada this little congregation would probably have been closed because it is not financially viable. As I spent the weekend with them I was amazed at how many people they touched in various ways. Let me share with you how God’s love reaches out to the community from this parish.
Capt. Robert Langmaid is a young Threshold Ministry officer (formerly Church Army). Capt. Langmaid has made it a point to be part of the community. He regularly assists at the school. A former wrestler who competed on a national scale, he works with the wrestling team and other sports teams getting to know the youth and the youth getting to trust him. Along with another Church, he has started a Christian youth group. Capt. Langmaid makes himself visible by attending public meetings and serving the community where he can. As we went throughout the community everyone seemed to know him and he knew them by name. Capt. Langmaid has made visiting homes a priority putting one evening a week aside for this purpose.
The sign for the Thrift Shop on the Saturday I was there contained a smaller but very visible sign declaring “$5 a Bag Day”. Throughout the year this ministry to the community is open every Saturday and six days a week through the Summer. This summer ministry provides employment for a student of the community. The Thrift Shop provides clothing and other used goods at reasonable prices to anyone who comes. In disasters and accidents such as fires the clothing is free. As the summer is beginning, they were organizing a t-shirt rack with shirts promoting the area and Yukon to be sold as souvenirs to the many tourists that visit the store weekly. “You can pay 20 dollars for a new t-shirt at the other outlets or $1 from us for a used one”, says Dianne Amann, one of the two ladies who organize the Thrift Shop.
It was common for a conversation that started in the store to end up in prayer in the Church next door. People know that the workers here care and that the minister is usually close by if needed.
This store is the largest suppliers of good rags for the area, supplying them to gas stations, janitorial companies, and the like.
Literally, this small ministry meets the needs and reaches thousands of people every year with the love of God in very tangible ways.
There is a very high participation rate in the Church. In the service, many of the parish would read or say prayers, including a young lady (Cassandra is the granddaughter of the Rev. David and Alice Kalles, retired) in training to be a server. After the service there was a vestry meeting and potluck dinner where they discussed the ramp that was just about finished (being built by the men of the parish), the roof that need recovering and the Bible Study being prepared for the fall. It was noted that little was being done for the age 25 – 30 crowd so a process of discover was begun to see how the Church might reach out to them in the fall.
Some may look at this parish and say with so few people it is a drain on resources. I look at it and see the ministry that it does. I see the thousands of people it reaches each year and I see the potential for growth. Pray for this parish of St. John the Baptist, as it seeks to find God’s will for them as they serve God in Watson Lake, Yukon