Christ Church Trinity
Christ Church Trinity is the coming together of the Anglican parish of Christ Church Anglican and the United Church pastoral charge of Trinity United in Invermere in 1998. There are within the southern interior of British Columbia several “shared ministries” whose circumstances, form, and history of development vary. The United and Anglican Churches desire to continue with and support the development of Shared Ministry which has benefited both the local and the wider church communities since the 1960s. Through the cooperation of the Diocese of Kootenay and the United Church Kootenay Presbytery, Christ Church Trinity continues to thrive today in the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry.
Here is a brief history of the founding churches:
Christ Church Anglican
Before the building of Christ Church in 1923 the needs of the parish were served by ministers who travelled from Spillimacheen or Golden, usually by train. Services were held in the homes of parishioners, and later in the elementary school.
As early as 1912 the parish was organized and plans were being made to build a church in Invermere, and a subscription list established to raise the necessary funds. By the early 1920’s sufficient money was on hand, and building commenced on property donated by the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands.
The first service in the new building was Holy Communion and Harvest Festival, September 9, 1923 and the Dedication Service took place on October I4, 1923 with Bishop of Kootenay A. J. Doull officiating.
Its location was on the site of the present day Christ Church Trinity on 7th Avenue. Christ Church Anglican was known as “The Little Church on the Hill” when it was erected in 1923. It has a magnificent view across the Columbia River Valley to the towering Rocky Mountain Range.
The church was designed by George Allan Bennett with the guidance of the then rector, the Rev. Bertram Atkinson. It was built on land donated by the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands. Many gifts were bestowed on the new church. The bell was given by Robert Randolph Bruce, then Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, in memory of his wife, the Lady Elizabeth Northcott, who died in 1915 in Invermere. The altar was made by early day resident Gilbert Cartwright with the wood carving by Cuthbert. The font was made of ore from various mines in the valley augmented by stones collected by the Sunday School children under the supervision of their teacher, Miss Dora K. Bodecker, who was also the church organist. Pioneer citizen, John Taynton, made the font. Many gifts were given by Major and Mrs. Frederick Young. Mrs. Young was the daughter of the Very Reverend Prebendary A.J. Ingram of St. Paul’s, London. A book rack made of olive wood brought from Jerusalem by her father was one gift; also a Bible that had been his. They donated two prayer desks and a foot place mat in front of the altar, which had been made by Major Young while he was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War 1. A reading desk was presented by Christ Church at Cranbrook.
Before the church was built Anglican services had been held wherever arrangements could be made. The Rev. Ernest Thatcher, who lived at Spillimacheen, would come by train to Invermere to officiate. He would spend the night with friends and hold the service on The Benches west of Invermere or wherever arranged. At one time services were held in the golf club house, now a private residence. At one service the clergyman arrived late and his churchwarden later. The warden came hurrying down the aisle with the communion wine in a beer bottle. This so incensed Mrs. B.G. Hamilton, a devout communicant, that she determined a church would be built with the proper accoutrements. Church services were often held in the schoolroom until the church was built.
A handsome wood and leather bound Bible, a first edition King James version, which had been donated to the church, now known as the Dort Bible, is placed in the present church sanctuary. The first stained glass window was a memorial to the young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Richardson. Two others in the nave were erected in memory of Herbert Northcott and his wife, Lucy, devout worshippers in the church. Behind the altar are fourteen beautiful stained glass windows depicting the twelve disciples, Mary with the Christ Child and John the Baptist. These, except the Richardson window, are the work of Michael Nutgens of Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island.
On April 28, 1998 the Diocese of Kootenay, Anglican Church of Canada, held a Service of Deconsecration of Christ Church Invermere.
Trinity United Church
On June 10, 1925, the United Church of Canada came into existence. It was a union of Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational churches. Between 1895 and 1925 there had been three Presbyterian churches in the Windermere Valley, one at Windermere built in 1985; St. Andrew’s in Wilmer built in 1903; and St. Columbia in Athalmer, built in 1912. Upon the formation of the United Church, the new congregation met in the little “Legion Clubroom” while they raised funds to build a new church in Invermere. During this time, the children attended the Anglican Sunday School.
In December 1929 Trinity United Church was consecrated in a service with Rev. J.A. Rowland officiating.
It was recorded in the local news of the day: “Sunday, the 15th, marked the opening and dedication service of their new recently erected edifice on Bruce Avenue by the congregation of Trinity United Church. The structure is an imposing one for a village of this size and red owns to the credit of the ladies aid and members of the congregation who have so industriously worked to bring about the result…”
The Chancel was illuminated by five stained glass windows which would be moved to Christ Church Trinity in due time and placed in the back of the Sanctuary.
In 1963 a Christian Education Centre was added onto the Church. It provided much needed space for the Sunday School which had been meeting in the basement of the main building. The new wing was described as an attractive, comfortable venue for organizational meetings, wedding receptions, and other community events.
On January 25, 1998 Kootenay Presbytery of the United Church of Canada held a Service of Deconsecration of Trinity United Church.
Christ Church Trinity
Christ Church Trinity is located on the existing site of Christ Church Anglican in Invermere, BC. It was constructed in 1998.
The Rev. John Smallman wrote the following message in the Building Plan Book entitled “Building Together, Sharing Our Future”:
Over that time, Invermere and district have grown, and the congregations too have grown. Old differences have been long put to rest, and a single congregation has formed, which carries forward the traditions of both denominations.
Many people helped lay the track as we explored our past, and envisioned our future. And with great care, a course was set which shortly will lead to a splendid new jointly owned facility, on the Anglican lands on Seventh Avenue. This church building has been designated “program ﬁrst.” That is, feedback was solicited by our architect about the nature of our church life together. From these discussions, decisions were made about the type and form of worship space, infants’ and toddlers’ areas, Sunday school rooms, ofﬁces, kitchens and so on. To use a down-home metaphor, the house has been designed to suit the family. Many consultations with the congregation have led to many improvements over the course of the design, evolving into what is presented here. This will be a superb church facility.
We will preserve some qualities of the church homes we have come from. The bell tower, the stained glass and some furnishings will all remind us of our former church homes. However, the new church is only marginally a monument. It is ﬁrst and foremost a place of ministry. With the encouragement of both denominations, it is also a church which is not only In the community, but For the community…”
Rev. John Smallwood initiated the construction of the new church with a sod turning ceremony on May 31, 1998. During the next several months construction was sufficient to have an inaugural service on November 29.
Christ Church Trinity was formally dedicated on Sunday, March 28, 1999.