Bishop Robert Hardwick was in Estevan on Sunday to participate in the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of St. Giles Anglican Church. The important day started with procession hymn St. Giles – One Hundred Years written by Betty Ribling.
After candle lighting, Hardwick talked to children about the symbolism and meaning of candleholders and the light. And then the preaching turned towards the 100-year anniversary of St. Giles Anglican Church.
“Today is a very special day, the day when we give thanks for 100 hundred years of this building here in the town of Estevan,” said Hardwick.
Hardwick talked about the importance of church building for the community.
“(It’s) a place where people can come at good times and bad times, but to come and know of God’s presence in this place,” said Hardwick.
He also touched on the symbolism in Anglican churches, which usually not only look like a ship but are also organized alike.
A few people present at the ceremony were baptized or had their children or grandchildren baptized at St. Giles and were a part of the church for a long time.
The history of the Church of England or the Anglican Church started in southeast Saskatchewan before St. Giles Church was built. In 1892 the Reverend Guy P. Terry was appointed as the first incumbent of Oxbow and in charge of the whole Souris District.
And the first, open-air, Anglican Church service took place in Estevan in September of that year. Soon after, when Estevan’s Central School was built, it was agreed that services could be held there until the new church could be built.
The construction started in 1893, and two years later St. Matthews was finished and dedicated.
But by 1913 the existing church was becoming too small and plans were made to build a new church, which would have a basement with rooms for Sunday school and other functions. The First World War put these plans on hold, however, parishioners continued to fundraise for the new building.
And 100 years ago, St. Giles Church in Oxford, England, offered their help in building the church as a memorial to those who paid a supreme sacrifice in the Great War. They offered $3,000, which was used to build the present St. Giles Anglican Church in Estevan, which then was known as St. Giles Memorial Church.
St. Giles Oxford also donated stained glass windows, which were shipped to Canada and installed in the new building. These windows can still be seen in the church.
Because of post-war inflation the cost of building the new church was $3,500 more than estimated. A loan was taken out and because of unforeseen circumstances, it wasn’t paid until 1945.
The church was always there to support people. In the 1930s hailstorms, cyclones and drought made life almost unbearable for many parishioners, leaving them out of work with no money. The church helped as much as it could, but finances were running short. Women held teas, rummage sales and other fundraisers to ensure bills could be paid. Although money was scarce, the fundraising activities brought the people closer together. Everyone worked hard to ensure the church would survive. And the mortgage was finally paid and symbolically burnt.
The church had to go into another debt in the 2000s when the money was needed to renovate the building. The project was completed in 2013. Along with a new face on the southwest corner of the church, the building received new offices, washrooms and an upgraded kitchen. The roof of the new foyer was completed in the style of the original building.
And as many years ago, the church representatives, who this time were Hardwick, Venerable Wilma Woods and the Reverend Deacon Barb Wright, burnt mortgage the church paid off to Affinity during the 100-year anniversary. Just as before, it took a joint effort of the community and the church and once again proved that together people can overcome challenges.
St. Giles Anglican Church still does a lot of fundraising and they still have more bills to pay. They provide service at the Estevan Motor Speedway; work at concerts and Bruins games at Affinity Place. They do fair cleanups, and in 2019 they started selling B.C. peaches. They hold a bake and craft sale every November and serve two big suppers every year. One of them, the Fowl Supper when St. Giles Church serves 400 turkey dinners, is coming on Sept. 22. and will be another event that will bring the community together.