St. Magloire’s Anglican Church has been a part of Drumheller for as long as the community has existed. The church is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.
St. Magloire was a bishop and missionary who laboured in the English Channel, on the Isle of Sark, in the 6th century A.D.
St. Magloire’s Church has its beginnings in Munson. Though it may seem strange today, in 1911 Munson was chosen to set up the first Anglican Church in the area because it was larger than Drumheller.
In July 1911, Reverend T. L. Bruce started the Munson Mission. In November of the same year Reverend G. M. Morgan headed the Munson Mission.
From Munson, services were held in Drumheller on alternate Sundays, weather permitting. As Drumheller grew and attendance increased the Munson Mission was moved to Drumheller in 1913.
Soon after Reverend Morgan left for Stettler and Reverend L. A. Knight stepped in to fill the void. Under Reverend Knight the St. Magloire’s Church was completed and decided by Bishop Pinkham of the Diocese of Calgary.
The church was dedicated to the obscure saint it is believed because as A. H. Shelton wrote in 1916, “gifts from the Channel Islander were given with the condition that the church should take the name of his church at home.”
The Spanish Flu pandemic hit Drumheller in 1918 and the situation was dire. Drumheller had no hospital and it was with the help of Reverend R. Brant, who replaced Reverend Knight, and a few others helped transform the school into a clean and comfortable hospital. The men were transformed as well and became nurses.
After World War I ended the church ran into hardship. Reverend Brant left St. Magloire’s in the fall of 1919 and the next reverend stayed only briefly to tackle the church’s financial woes and low attendance. Reverend Brant’s successor resigned in May of 1921.
In August 1921 a replacement was found and Reverend H. T. Montgomery began his ministry. During the roaring twenties, St. Magloire’s grew in attendance. The church became more active in the community, the Men’s Club and the Women’s Auxiliary filling a social niche and fundraising role.
Financial difficulty continued to plague the church throughout the twenties. It was not until the thirties, the Great Depression, that the finances turned around. Attendance also boomed during this time.
When World War II exploded Canadians answered the call to arms, including the minister of St. Magloire’s at the time, Reverend C. Griffiths, who joined the war as a chaplain.
The church continued its hard work throughout the war, helping with community events and charities. It was during this time that the church was starting to see more black ink on its finances.
In 1955 the original church was replaced with the present building. It is notable that within two years the building was free of all debt.
St. Magloire’s continued for many years tending to the spiritual and social needs of the community. The seventies were notable for the October Fests held for several years and the use of surveys to determine what parishioners desired of the church. Most respondents to the survey, especially the younger parishioners, wished for a change in the music.
Over the years many ministers have come and gone, few lasting more than a few years. Recently things have changed at St. Magloire’s.
“The best thing we did happened a couple years ago,” said Doug Wade. “We’ve had lay readers, local people, running services.”
“We get a lot of diversity that way,” continued Wade.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of St. Magloire’s, or at least the Anglican Church in the Drumheller area.
“We decided to celebrate our 100th anniversary by doing things for the community,” said Wade. “We took a whole of bunch things, and decided to give back, for example in December we’re helping the Salvation Army manage their kettles.”
St. Magloire’s continues to tend to the spiritual needs of the valley. On December 17 Morrin’s Bethany Lutheran Church will be singing at St. Magloire’s.