So on the third (and the first, incidentally) Sunday of the month (that would be today), Rev. Jon Russell, the rector of the Allendale with Ninebanks and Whitfield Anglican churches holds the 9:30am communion service at St. Mark’s of Ninebanks, and then makes a dash back to St. Cuthbert’s to hold a very similar service at 11. If it were the fourth Sunday, as next week for example, or even the second Sunday, he’d start out at St. John’s in Whitfield before zooming back to Allendale.
My dad did this sort of peripatetic ministry too for a while, but he was always worried about speeding infractions as he tried to make it along to the next service in time. In his later ministry he claimed that he had a special dispensation from the Ontario Provincial Police (nearly the Mounties, just a rung below) to drive fast carefully along the rural roads on Sunday mornings between churches. I was never quite sure if he was joking or not, but I’m confident that Jon does drive carefully, and not too fast, along our roads.
Just as carefully as his sermons are crafted, and you can read them on the Parish website any time you like! Well, like, after they’ve been delivered from the pulpit.
When Jon and Hil came to Allendale, I had to admit that my religiosity was strained, and that I was unlikely to be there on Sunday mornings (though Carrie loves the services, and keeps a strain of holiness running through the family). But Jon was kind and gentle with me, and not judgemental, and I’ve so much appreciated that christian (I think small ‘c’) empathy over the past years.
Sylvia Milburn writes to carry on the theme of the church family ‘being there’ for the folks of the parish: ” I suppose a lot of the time it’s a place there for all, and which some folks feel they need to visit regularly particularly on a Sunday, while some go at special times. It’s surprising how many go to just have a quiet time. We do have a prayer group which meets each week and requests can be left in church.”
Sometimes the choir, ably led by June Welch who has been playing the organ with increasing facility, have an anthem, and sometimes there’s another musical interlude, though mostly the communion services are traditional in feeling and in empathy.
The church has also had a set of portable components, architecturally designed by Jane Derbyshire, placed to consolidate a quiet space for children at the rear. And the whole church is warm and welcoming now, thanks to the wood pellet boiler recently installed in the basement of the Church Hall, so that the quarterly classical music concerts put on by ‘Music in Allendale’ can be enjoyed in comfort by attendees. It was especially lovely too that the church received special diocesan permission to mount a sculpture of St Cuthbert by local artist Charles Sansbury up near the vestry.
And so, St. Cuthbert’s is an ancient church that’s always there for the flock it serves, because of the people who work steadfastly for the greater good, together.