the early days
Soon after the turn of the century, it became apparent that, in a community growing as fast as Calgary, one Church of England parish would not suffice. This proved to be the case, and Dean Paget, with true apostolic zeal, set out to meet the increasing need. Settlement began to develop westwards, and it was found advisable to divide the city – the centre and newer districts to be the responsibility of the Mother Church, and the old original Calgary site in the east to be looked after by the creation of the first daughter parish.
Having bought from AE Cross, Esq, four lots situated on what is now the corner of 9th Avenue and 12th Street East, the first church, a frame building, was the very generous gift of the dean, who conducted the first service therein on the Feast of the Epiphany, 6th January 1905.
In 1907, events moved rapidly for this mission in East Calgary. On 23 August Rt Revd W. Cyprian Pinkham, DD, the first bishop of Calgary, issued title deeds for the new parish of St John the Evangelist. On 28 August, with due legal notice, the first parishioners meeting was held, with the incumbent-elect, Revd George A Ray, in the chair.
Revd George A Ray, MA, was inducted as rector of the parish at Evensong on Wednesday, 28 August 1907 . . . on 25 July 1910 Mr Ray forwarded his resignation to the bishop and conducted his last services in St John’s on 28 August, three years to the day since his Induction. From St John’s he went as Assistant to Holy Trinity, New Westminster, BC.
At a vestry meeting on 19th September and at parishioners’ meeting on 21 September 1910, the appointment of Revd GE Gale to succeed Mr Ray as rector was gladly and unanimously approved. On 2 October Mr Gale held his first services in St John’s, assisted by Mr Eccles, lay reader, who had conducted services during the interim since Mr Ray’s last Sunday, 28 August. Calgary was experiencing that winter one of its famous and periodic “pioneer booms.” The old St John’s rapidly became too small to accommodate the fast-growing congregation.
On 2nd November 1910, lots 31, 32, 33 and 34, block 12, plan A-3, were purchased for the new church site from W. Stuart and F. W. Jones at a cost of $1,250 per lot. On 9 November two further lots (29 and 30) adjoining were secured at the same prices per lot from WJS Walker, Esq.
In the spring of 1911 the construction of the new church began; the old church and rectory were moved to the new site and feverish activity, destined to complete the new property by the fall, marked the summer months of that year. The new church, impressive beyond words to express, was dedicated by the late Bishop Pinkham on the 16th Sunday after Trinity, 1 October 1911. The remarks in the service register state: 24 September – “Last service in old St John’s. Excellent congregations for Dedicatory Services.” Canon Dewdney assisted in the morning and Canon Hogbin preached at the evening service. Thus, with a new rector, was a new era in the life of the parish so well begun.
St John's was built at the end of 1911 by the architectural and civil engineering firm, Lang & Major, which had only been founded months earlier, on 1 January 1911.
St John the Evangelist Church was constructed in 1911 to serve the growing Anglican community of Inglewood. The church’s Gothic Revival architecture and decorated interior expresses its identity as an Anglo-Catholic Anglican church. Rooted in the desire to reconnect with the primite piety of the Middle Ages and often accented during the Victorian period by the sumptuous tastes of the times, the Gothic Revival style was favoured by Anglo-Catholic Anglicans for its associations with historic Christianity and the rich symbolism of medieval worship.
The cruciform plan of the church and its subtle buttresses, lancet windows, and pointed-arch doors all express the Gothic Revival style. The incongrous east-west orientation of the church within a residential context defined by north-south buildings is also indicative of the Anglo-Catholic vision. This orientation and the placement of the altar in the easternmost part of the church embody the medieval Church’s symbolic identification of the resurrected Christ with the sun rising in the east.
The interior is furnished with a host of items that embellish the Anglo-Catholic liturgy, a liturgy distinguished from other Anglican worship services by its elaborate symbolism and ritual. Many of these items were donated to the church by congregants, some in memory of the departed. Gifted items include the rood screen, the stained glass windows, the baptismal font, and the church bell. The congregation also spent lavishly to furnish the church with a Casavant organ. It is one of the few pneumatic organs extant in western Canada.
The church’s architecture and furnishings define a sacred space of powerful symbolism and beauty. Although many churches in Alberta were built in the Gothic Revival style, few — if any — were as thoroughly influenced by the spirit of neo-medievalism as St John the Evangelist. Thoroughly intact, it remains a good example of Anglo-Catholic ideals.
Following Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, St John’s, as a parish of long-standing Anglo-Catholic practice and conviction, began to explore the real possibility of entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church whilst, at the same time, retaining much that was dear and of value to us as Anglicans — customs and traditions in music, liturgy and pastoralia, as well as elements of our spiritual and theological tradition.
After almost a year spent in prayer, study and discussion under the leadership of Fr. Lee Kenyon, the parish voted by nearly 90% in November 2010 to accept Pope Benedict’s generous invitation for us to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, through the provision of an Ordinariate.
In October 2011, in the 100th year of the dedication of the present church building, we entered into a eucharistic fast and began a period of intense catechesis in preparation for our reception into the Catholic Church. On 18 December 2011, Advent IV, the majority of St John’s parishioners were either received into, or reconciled with, the Catholic Church. On 31 December 2011 the Anglican parish was dissolved by the Diocese of Calgary, at the request of the Churchwardens and Vestry, and became the first Anglican Use parish in Canada, initially under the care of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary. Following the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter on 1 January 2012, St John’s was formally established as a Parish of the Ordinariate on 4 November 2014, the Feast of St Charles Borromeo.
For 106 years we were a parish of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. We are now very happy to be Roman Catholics of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. Our century-old commitment to serving the people of Inglewood and the wider city of Calgary remains as firm as ever as we look to the exciting future we have ahead of us. We are passionate Roman Catholics, proud of our noble English heritage, eager to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of all nations. Come and join us as we seek to live out the call to unity in our unique vocation within the Ordinariate.
The parish is currently served by Fr. Robert-Charles Bengry (Parish Priest), Fr. Sean-Patrick Beahen (Parochial Vicar) and many kind and talented volunteers.
The Rev’d George A. Ray
The Rev’d Canon Gervase Edward Gale
The Rev’d Canon J. B. Thomas
The Rev’d John H. Oriel
The Rev’d Warren Turner
The Rev’d David B. Houghton
The Rev’d Maurice William Helston
The Rev’d Canon Johannes J. van der Leest
The Rev’d Anthony H. Bullman
The Rev’d William Michael Birch
The Rev’d Graham Goode
The Rev’d Canon Douglas H. Skoyles SSC
The Rev’d Michael Heidt SSC
The Rev’d Lee Stuart Kenyon SSC
The Very Rev’d Lee Stuart Kenyon Ev
The Rev’d Adrian Martins
The Rev’d Robert-Chas. Bengry GSmp
The Rev’d Sean-Patrick Beahen GSmp