St. Aidan’s Grows

2016 – Present:

In 2016, we hosted the 3-day Healing Earth Conference at the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook: “Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Ecology and Climate Change”  Ninety participants came from across Canada and from the States. with speakers Archpriest Michael Oleksa from Alaska, Fr. Kaleeg Hainsworth from the BC coast, Fr. Nilos Nellis from St. John in the Wilderness in Kaslo, and Mark Sandford from Post Falls Idaho. Also of note in 2016, our Subdeacon Paul Bartlett was ordained to the diaconate, the parish was incorporated, and our St. Aidan’s Bookstore was started to supply the Orthodox faithful in the area.

Theophany 2017, Joeseph Creek, -22 Celsius!

In 2017, at Theophany, we purchased the church building we had been leasing from the Ukrainian Catholic Church and began restoration work with the help of a $70,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust and Heritage BC. There had been a fire in 1979 which weakened the rafters, and with the larger snow loads now incorporated in the BC building code, the roof structure needed immediate replacing. We twinned up the rafters, put on a new 26 ga. Prolock metal roof with a snow management system and lightning protection. We also extended the eave and gable soffits and re-did them with cedar, re-stuccoed the exterior, and built new front stairs and a front entrance timber frame roof. The contractor Jeremy Eisenhauer and his crew from Eisenhauer Build came over from Kaslo and did a wonderful job.

Deacon Paul and his wife Matka Trish moved from Creston into the church manse which came with the Church purchase. Deacon Kurt and Diakonissa Victoria moved to Creston from the Maritimes after Dn. Kurt finished his University degree to begin his medical practice– we now have two Deacons serving on most Sundays!

Archbishop Iréneé visited our new (to us) church and performed 10 baptisms during the Paschal season!

Shortly afterward we were blessed with the wedding of two of our parish members. Fr. Andrew served a Parastas (memorial) service for four WW1 Slavic prison camp victims discovered at the internment gravesite in nearby Morrisey, BC. We began helping a local charity, Street Angels, with their meal program and helped support some orphan and outreach work in Kenya. Fr. Larry retired from over 30 years of Orthodox parish priesthood., and moved with his wife Myra from Victoria to nearby Wynndel, near Creston. He is now attached to St. Aidan’s, has a small chapel in his home, and often serves at St. Aidan when Fr. Andrew is away.

In 2018, we started our Breakfast Program – every Monday morning from 7:30am – 9:30am we provided a free, full serve, hot meal of 3 meats, 3 egg choices, 2 pancake choices, fresh fruit, yogurt, hashbrowns, coffee, juice… for 20-30 needy people. This full menu continued until we had to change to a simpler format and move the breakfast out to our churchyard tent during the Covid in 2020. We started Orthodoxy 101 Education Classes, which continue to run every year, and held our first Perogy Dinner Fundraiser (which sold out immediately) with everyone making perogy’s together beforehand at the church.

During the exterior restoration project of 2017, the existing cupola was found to be in much worse condition than was anticipated and complete reconstruction of the cupola was required, together with an improvement in the structure and sheathing of the tower to support the new cupola.   In 2018, Andrei Botezatu and his company “High Standard Installations” in Calgary was commissioned to design, build and install the needed replacement cupola. The crowning touch was a pure aluminum 7-ft.-tall 3-bar Orthodox Cross, re-proportioned from the Cross that used to grace our parish’s Mother Church, Saint Peter the Aleut in Calgary at their original building.  This is very appropriate as we have been hugely supported with prayer, finances, and Godly people from St. Peter’s from the very beginning of the pre-formation of St. Aidan, and truly look to them as our Mother Church! The Cross was very appropriately installed on Saturday evening, 10 March, just as Vespers ended and the 3rd Sunday of Great Lent, “The Veneration of the Cross” began.  After Vespers, the parishioners went out and sang “O Lord, save Your people…”.  After the Divine Liturgy of the Sunday of the Cross, they again went out to sing, and Fr. Andrew blessed the Cross from the ‘manlift’.

In March of 2019, Fr. Michael Oleksa from Alaska once again joined us to speak at our Lenten Retreat. He presented a fascinating series of lectures on “The spiritual World of traditional Alaskan cultures and Orthodoxy as the fulfillment of it” as well as wonderful insights into the lives of Orthodox Saints Innocent, Jacob, Herman, and Matushka Olga.  

In Aug of 2019, the monks from Holy Transfiguration Hermitage (near 100 Mile House, BC) delivered our new Holy Table. Fr. Moses had been working on the hand-carved table for 3-4 months carving the Icon of Abraham’s Hospitality on it. A special service of Thanksgiving (Moleben) was served in early pre-byzantine chant which the monks have been developing and using for several years now. (monks Gregorian chant website) The monks hardly ever leave the Hermitage, so their visit was a very special occasion. *Correction: in the above article, it should say “the angelic figures visiting Abraham in the icon represent the Holy Trinity with God the Father on the Left;  God the Son in the middle; and God the Holy Spirit on the Right.”

We hosted our 2nd Perogy Dinner Fundraiser, started a women’s book study group, and put together Christmas Hampers to help support some of our parish members. Father Andrew was away for a month due to family health problems, so several priests visited to provide occasional services, and Typika services were held each week between visits. Our Breakfast Program continued, and we gave out Food Gift Cards.

In 2020, Fr. Vladimir Lysak came to do a 2-week icon painting course just before Covid arrived. After Covid Protocols shut everything down, we met for the Men’s and Women’s Book Study Groups, parish council meetings, fellowship gatherings, as well as practically everything else, on zoom. The little house behind the church we had been praying and hoping to purchase came up for sale by foreclosure and we were able to purchase it at a very good price with only a $50,000 mortgage from Community Futures. The papers were signed in March, the week Covid hit, and we were able to then do a major renovation as our “Covid project” for the next 10 months. Finally, in December we were able to finish and rent it at a reduced rate to a young parishioner family. We celebrated a wedding, some births, some baptisms, and held to a fairly regular cycle of services through the various Covid Govt. restrictions, adapting many times to keep things going in any way we could.

The Breakfast Program continued throughout 2020 and has continued up to the present (2023) without ever missing a Monday. We received generous grants from Teck and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) to purchase a large 15’ x 30’ wedding tent with windows and 2 peaks photo of tent and heaters, so that people could eat under the “outdoor” shelter in our church yard. The breakfast program continued unabated through all of the Covid restrictions by handing out Hot Breakfasts to go, or to eat in the tent, and we distributed badly needed $25 food cards whenever we were able to afford to purchase them. Mondays we served a 2-egg sandwich with thick heritage bacon and cedar cheese on a fresh bun as well as yogurt, fruit, juice and coffee. We added in the first two Wednesday mornings of each month, going to a large double burrito meal which was very popular. Thirty-five breakfasts for the homeless were made and delivered every Monday and Wednesday of the month (300/month) for those who were put up at the local Travel Lodge when the shelters were closed due to Covid.

2021 – 2023:

5 clergy serving Dormition, Aug 2021

Our building has been undergoing renovations for the past 2 years in order to make our building accessibility friendly. 

In 2021, we received a CERIP grant from the BC govt. to install an elevator, interior connecting stairs, and an accessible bathroom so we did some preliminary work – moving underground pipes, rezoning the lot, developing engineering and architect plans, etc. In May of 2022 we moved to a temporary space just down the block and began construction on the addition to accommodate the elevator/ stairs/ new handicapped bathroom etc. We also gutted the interior as we had to re-position the Altar and the main entrance, expand the kitchen for our Breakfast Program, and add a children’s education and overflow loft, etc. By August 2022 we had the foundation poured and the framing begun. We are now at the lock-up stage and working on the interior of the building.

Click on the photo below to see the progress:

We have also started a gofundme fundraiser to help with the 40% increase in material costs, please click on the photo below to help:

This undertaking began for the sake of making our building accessibility friendly. The original budget for completion was +/- $700,000. Despite our small size, God blessed us, and we raised $840,000 in funds through donations ($380,000), grants ($230,000) and a mortgage ($230,000).

However, there has been a dramatic 40% inflationary increase in costs throughout the construction industry since we began, and we are experiencing this difference first-hand. We have a cost increase of $350,000 to complete our building project above our $700,000 budget (now: $1,050,000 total) and have exhausted all our building funds. The need is urgent as we are in the final stage and are scheduled to finish construction this July, but in our present financial situation, we will be out of funds to pay bills in May.

We are therefore reaching out to you, our friends and family, and brothers and sisters in Christ for help!

If you are willing and able to help, we would be most grateful!

Thank you for your prayers and donations, they are most appreciated!