1998 – 2001- In the beginning…
It all started with some Creston families, (Bartletts, Felthams, Basarabas, Viers…) who, becoming frustrated with the ever-shifting winds of protestant theology, began searching for a solid unassailable Christian foundation. Around the same time period, a similar search was begun by some Cranbrook seekers (Ellen Dearden, Bill Graham) joined by cradle Orthodox Meskerem Billey and John and Irina Baciu. In their search, they discovered a pre-protestant reformation, pre-Luther, pre-Roman Catholic world, filled with writings and unchanging Christian teachings written by very early 1st to 4th century Christians before the canon of the 27 New Testament books was even established. They discovered 1st and 2nd Century writings by “Apostolic Fathers” – Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Barnabas, the Didache (the teaching of the 12), and Shepard of Hermes – who were taught directly by the Apostles themselves. Weighty authoritative writings by 2nd – 3rd century Christians such as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, Ignatius, Hippolytus, and Theophilus. They discovered the 4th century ecumenical councils and the ultimate “statement of faint,” the Nicene/Constantinople Creed (325 and 381 AD) as well as the writings of other wonderful Christian Fathers, including Basil the Great, Anthony the Great, John Chrysostom, the Gregory’s, Athanasius, Makarios, Ephraim the Syrian… They were all united in their Christian theology and all members of the same Church. The Orthodox Church! Born 33AD and in continuous unbroken communion until today, and until the end of the ages! But where to find it today?
2001 – 2005: Origin Story
The Bartletts and Felthams from Creston started teaming up with each other and driving down to Post Falls, Idaho to attend the English-speaking Antiochian Orthodox Church where Fr. Gregory Horton was Rector. Fr. Gregory started coming out to Creston or sent some of his parishioners (Matthew Gallatin, Reader Michael…) for some occasional Akathist or Compline services and Catechist instruction. They brought in noted Orthodox speaker, Fr. Peter Gilchrist to Creston for a weekend engagement in May of 1999. In May of 2000, Bartletts and Felthams entered the Orthodox Church through baptism and/or Chrismation! Paul Bartlett was tonsured a Reader by Bishop Joseph of the Antioch Orthodox Church in 2002 and the Bartletts and Felthams began having twice a month Vespers or Reader services at the Rotacrest Hall or the Anglican Church in Creston with the occasional Saturday Liturgy served by Fr. Gregory or visiting priests – Fr. Taras (Jan 2001), Fr. Michael Lupu (Romanian – OCA), Fr. Larry Reinheimer (St. Peter the Aleut (OCA) in Calgary…
Meanwhile, the Basaraba family began driving to Lethbridge to attend the Orthodox mission Church in Lethbridge AB where the Ukrainian Orthodox priest, Fr. Taras Krochak from Calgary served as Rector. Fr. Taras brought them into the Orthodox Church in Dec 1999. He then served his first service in the East Kootenay’s in Creston in Jan. 2001. Finding the drive from Calgary too long and with Cranbrook the more major center, from Jan 2002 until the summer of 2005, Fr. Taras traveled from Calgary to Cranbrook serving 30 Liturgies, weddings, baptisms, and funerals, mostly in the rented Ukrainian Catholic Church Nativity of St. Mary in Cranbrook.
Cranbrook kindred spirits (Ellen Dearden, Bill Graham, Meskerem Billey…) were excited to see an Orthodox Church presence developing in Cranbrook, and so it wasn’t long before more regular Typica (Readers services) began, and a loose community of cradle Orthodox and newly illumined converts from both Creston and Cranbrook began to take shape. They met in Cranbrook in the old theater, in a commercial space above a dentist’s office on Kootenay Street, in Alpenhaus Hall on 7th Ave., in McPherson’s Chapel, and finally settled in the historical Ukrainian Catholic “Nativity of St. Mary” Church.
In mid 2005, sudden heart problems forced Fr. Taras to withdraw from coming to Cranbrook, and Fr. Larry Reinheimer from Calgary’s St. Peter the Aleut Orthodox Church (OCA) was approached to take over. Fr. Larry Reinheimer with some parishioners from St. Peter the Aleut, Calgary, began coming more regularly (about every 6 weeks), and was joined by the newly ordained Fr. Richard Rene shortly after his Ordination to the priesthood in April 2005. In between visits from the Priests, the group held regular weekly Reader Services (Typikas), led by Creston resident, the newly tonsured reader Paul Bartlett. As the closest Orthodox Church was 3.5 hrs away in Post Falls, Idaho, USA or 4.5 hrs away in Calgary, Alberta, the group was determined to establish a local Orthodox Church. Through the grace of God, in early 2006, they became St. Aidan Orthodox Mission Station!