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All Saints’ Anglican Church in Drayton Valley celebrated All Saints’ Day in a special way this year, with the induction of their rector, the Rev. Christopher Cook. All Saints’ is blessed with plenty of space so that 35 people could attend in person with room to spare, while the service was also streamed live through Facebook.

Some who came along to the church were local area dignitaries: Yellowhead MP Gerald Soroka, Devon-Drayton Valley MLA Mark Smith, and Drayton Valley Town Councillor Amila Gammana. The Rev. Randy Rye of the Drayton Valley Life Church represented the local ministerial association, and two clergy of the diocese made the 90 minute drive from Edmonton to show their support; the Rev. Ron Hörst and the Rev. Arthur Dyck.

All Saints’ people’s warden Rita Stagman gave the opening welcome and announcements, in which she made clear the church’s feelings, saying to Cook, “We like you here, we got you here and we’re going to keep you here!”

Bishop Jane Alexander started the service, then chair of the local ACW Miriam Roberts brought the readings, including Revelation 7:9-17, which describes the saints from all the world gathered around the throne of God: 

…and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9, 10)  

That passage was the focus of Bishop Jane’s sermon, which she began with the question, “How does one become a saint?” Her answer: “Trust Jesus; be confident in him and follow him by living in love and charity with all.”

“It’s not pie-in-the-sky,” she said. “Jesus enters our ordinary lives and calls us to action that is totally within our ability.”

“And Chris, here, your rector, is in the saint-making business. He will be helping you on that path, and you help him. Has he got all the answers? I expect not. But that’s good too because finding God’s plan is a corporate activity. We expect to work together. Ministry is never a solo effort.”

Bishop Jane spoke of the fact that Cook’s arrival in Drayton Valley came at a “crazy” time. He arrived at All Saints’ in February, only one month before the pandemic lockdown in March. However, she encouraged the parish to look forward to a time when they would worship together again in greater freedom.

“May you always find joy in the service of the Lord.”

Following the Creed, the service of induction continued with the presentation of the symbols: a Bible, a vessel of water, oil of annointing, the canons of the Diocese, the keys of the church, a Book of Common Prayer, and a paten and chalice. All point to an aspect of the ministry of the rector and are usually brought forward one at a time by members of the congregation. For safety however, Stagman, along with rector's warden Tammy Flett, read out the name of each symbol as Cook held it up, leading the congregation in the responses.

Of the whole event, Cook says, “Honestly, I am overflowing with joy and happiness and feel at peace where I am.”

"I have a compassionate and loving church family in Drayton Valley that makes my heart overjoyed. I am blessed to be called here and am touched by all those with me today in person and online who showed their support. May God continue to guide my steps on this journey with all of the saints at All Saints'."