St. James is 50
left to right: Wardens Frank Gardner and David Parker, Canon Charles Alexander, Bishop Morse Goodman
St. James Anglican Church, one of the first buildings in Ranchlands (1977), will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on Sunday June 2, with an Open House and Homecoming on Saturday June 1 from 10 am – 4 pm.
Over the years the church has served Ranchlands and the surrounding northwest Calgary communities in many ways, including Sunday School, youth group, Good Food Box, moms’ groups, parenting classes and bible studies, and St. James welcomes the community to attend the Celebration Service and the Homecoming Open House.
St. James was officially formed on May 29, 1969, meeting at Brebeuf Junior High School (5030 – 37th Street, NW), after All Saints Cochrane’s Rector Canon Howes knocked on doors in Brentwood, Dalhousie, and Varsity to build interest in a NW Anglican Church. The church had to be ingenious in its portability, using students’ desks as pews, obtaining a fully collapsible Altar and Altar Rail (which sometimes suddenly collapsed during communion), and the Alter Guild used a suitcase to bring everything needed for communion to the school every Sunday. Baptisms and confirmations were held at St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church.
In 1971, when the church grew to 30 members, they rented space at Hope Lutheran Church. There they had a church office and time for a 50-minute service and Sunday school. Though the church lacked fellowship time and space at Hope Lutheran, they made up for it by meeting in each other’s homes mid-week, and thus building an intimate community. Canon Howes was rector from 1972-1973, and Canon Ted Weare (UofC Anglican chaplain) assisted from October 1973 – January 1974 along with many other priests supplied by the diocese.
On June 23, 1974 Rector Charles Alexander arrived at St. James and the church continued to grow, averaging about 200 people per service. In 1975, a building committee was formed, with Mark Millions as project supervisor and later general contractor. With a mortgage obtained from the diocese, the project began with Canon Buildings and architect Roger Woods. The sod turning ceremony (pictured above) was on March 27, 1977. At that time there were no buildings yet in Ranchlands. The building was completed by August, the first service was on September 4, 1977, and the dedication (attended by 600 people) was on September 11, 1977.
Since its early days, the church has had an open style of worship, a focus on renewal and a personal relationship with Jesus, and is characterized as an evangelical, catholic and charismatic Church. Today, under the leadership of Canon Arthur Sheffield (1992-present) members strive to serve as Christ’s body in the world, and the church service itself has a strong focus on praise, prayer and seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit.
St. James is currently gathering historical photos and stories for the celebration. If members of the community have photos or stories they wish to share, they are welcome to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the celebration, please see our website: www.stjamescalgary.com.