The establishment of a new museum featuring items from the 120 year existence of Athabasca’s All Saints Anglican Church will help connect present parishioners with those that came before them.
Reverend Greg Lynn welcomed more than 70 guests into the church basement to celebrate the unveiling of the museum on June 25.
“This is a very special occasion,” he said. “This is a celebration and opportunity for us to touch base with all those who have come before us. They want us to carry the torch and continue to serve Athabasca and the Lord.”
He added that the 120-year celebration goes hand-in-hand with Athabasca’s centennial.
The Bishop for the Diocese of Athabasca, Right Reverend Fraser Lawton, extended Lynn’s message, metaphorically speaking about flowers.
“There’s something about that root that hangs on, when you have the right root that flower is going to come back,” he said. “This museum allows us to get a glimpse of that root.”
However, he added, the root is not the whole story. Instead, the museum should help people today realize the work that went into the church throughout the years.
“Faith isn’t about what happened, but what God is doing now. We need to give our very best to spread that seed,” he said.
After the leaders’ short sermons, they led the group in prayer and hymns. The audience was then treated to songs and a Cinderella operetta performed by a group of children organized by a team from Alberta’s Family and Community Support Services.
The operetta and one of the songs were written by one of the main forces behind the museum, Mary Gisalson.
She has been collecting and organizing historical pieces since 1990.
“Because I attend church most every Sunday, I documented many of the activities,” she explained, adding that she has been researching and preparing articles and pictures for twenty years now.
Gisalson also spearheaded a book, “A Spark in the Wilderness,” which documents the storied past of the Anglican church’s role in Alberta, from interactions with the indigenous people and the Hudson’s Bay Company, to Athabasca’s role as a jumping off point to the north.
Although she’s worked hard on putting the thousands of pieces together and presenting them, there is more still to be done.
“A religious museum is an ongoing thing,” she said.
Those ongoing efforts were apparent on Saturday, as Gisalson snapped away with her camera, surely to add to the already extensive collection.