In 2020, the Parish of Christ Church, Cranbrook suffered a double blow: the first was the shutdown that we all experienced in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second came in June, with the retirement of the Reverend Yme Woensdregt after sixteen years of ministry at Christ Church and in the surround- ing community. The parish was at a crossroads.
Given the unprecedented times, and facing limited options for actively recruiting new clergy, Christ Church made the decision to continue operating its day-to-day office functions while taking the bold step of encouraging its parishioners to worship with other parishes in the Diocese providing online worship opportunities, until the time was right to hire a new incumbent again in Cranbrook.
It would be more than a year before Christ Church was able to call a new pastor, but in September 2021 the parish welcomed its new incumbent, the Reverend Kevin Arndt, to the parish and to the East Kootenays.
Kevin, his spouse Kristy, and their two young sons William and Julian moved to Cranbrook from Victoria on Vancouver Island, where Kevin had served several parishes over many years in the Diocese of BC. For the last eleven years, Kevin was the full-time Chaplain at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre – a maximum security provincial jail on Wilkinson Road in Victoria – and an Associate Priest at St John the Divine, Quadra Street.
While the pandemic raged on without an end in sight, Christ Church was relieved they had an incumbent again. On Sunday, September 12 the parish celebrated its return to a regular weekly pattern of Eucharist on Sunday mornings and pastoral visits with Reverend Kevin during the week.
Unfortunately, we are not able to meet in our beloved historic Church building due to the physical space and ventilation limitations. However, with God’s help we have transformed the Church Hall into sacred space and are welcoming up to fifty worshippers in-person every Sunday. The celebration of Holy Eucharist is also livestreamed on Zoom to parishioners and any others who wish to join us online for worship.
The worshipping community St Paul’s, Golden, has also welcomed Kevin into their life and ministry. Starting in October, once per month Kevin has travelled to Golden to enjoy their hospitality and fellowship, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and to support St Paul’s on-going process of discerning God’s call to service in Golden and the community.
Starting a new chapter in ministry together with a new incumbent is a complicated process at the best of times. It has proven even more com- plicated during COVID-19, as public health precautions hamper the speed and ease of getting to know each other, learning histories, and reaching out into the wider community. But the embers of the Holy Spirit continue to glow warmly in Cranbrook and Golden, and are a flickering flame that lights a faithful path forward.
Thanks be to God!