History of St. Michael’s
The real history of St. Michael’s should be told by the thousands of people who have been touched one way or another in the hundred years that this congregation has existed. It should be told by those who have found their connection to God through the ministrations of this church, or by those who have experienced renewal, joy, peace, love, and above all, hope – because of what happens here. It could be told by those who have found the church ready for them when they needed it, for celebrations, for baptisms, marriages, for weekly worship and the sacrament, and for solace in time of sorrow. Through the years, that is our real history.
The first Anglican service in Kelowna was held above Lequime’s Store on Bernard Avenue on May 27, 1894, with the Reverend Thomas Greene officiating. The first building was put up on land donated by the Lequime brothers, where the Kelowna Museum now stands, and was consecrated on October 5, 1895.
This building immediately proved too small, and plans began for a new structure. By 1908 land on the current site had been acquired, and a local architect, W. A. Peters, was chosen to design the building. The fine new building, of local sandstone with granite trim, was consecrated on June 13, 1913, and continues in use to the present day.
This bright beginning was followed by the outbreak of World War I, and by its end the parish had lost forty-seven members of the congregation. But the parish recovered from this blow, and through the ‘20’s and ‘30’s planted new congregations in the Okanagan, and became renowned for its Boys’ Choir.
Again, after WW II, the parish renewed, and in 1949 built the Parish Hall that served Kelowna so well for so many years, giving the town a first-class gymnasium and stage. A rectory was built on the site in 1956.
The ‘60’s and ‘70’s proved a difficult time for St. Michael’s as it did for so many “mainline” churches. The renewal movement that resulted saw changes made to both the church interior and to worship practices, so as to reflect an emerging view of the spiritual relationship that church membership involves.
In 1987 St. Michael’s was named the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Kootenay. (The now ‘pro-cathedral’ is St. Saviour’s in Nelson). Since then, there have been many updates and changes to the property. This includes the replacement of our old Parish Hall, built in 1948 and demolished in 2006. A new structure was built and attached to the cathedral on the north side. It is called St. Michael’s House, which enables us to carry on our mission to Kelowna today. It provides space for meetings, choir rehearsals, church school, small gatherings, kitchen facilities, and washrooms — yes, washrooms! No such facilities had been included when the church was built. There is an outdoor terrace area and Columbarium. That project was completed in 2011. The parking lot was completed in May 2015 and following that work began on the renovation of interior of the cathedral to make it more contemporary and functional while respecting the nature and heritage respects the heritage nature of the building. This has included structural repairs and upgrades, the replacement of the front pews with chairs for to create a multi-purpose space, and the addition of up-to-date audio-visual equipment.
In 2021 the Cathedral produced a video introduction to the history and architecture of the building, hosted by retired Archbishop David Crawley. You will find this on the Cathedral’s Youtube page here.
To date, the Cathedral has served as home to three bishops: the Right Reverend Fraser Berry; The Most Reverend David Crawley, the Most Reverend John Privett and The Most Reverend Lynne McNaughton. The clergy who have served as incumbents at St. Michael’s are:
- The Very Reverend David Tiessen, 2021 to present
- The Very Reverend Nissa Basbaum, 2009-2020
- The Very Reverend Allan R. Reed, 2001-2009
- The Very Reverend Jonathan (Jack) Greenhalgh, 1973-2000
- The Reverend James A. McCullum, 1972-1976
- The Right Reverend R.E. Fraser Berry, 1967-1970
- The Venerable Desmond S. Catchpole, 1942-1966
- The Reverend Canon Charles E. Davis, 1925-1941
- The Venerable Thomas Greene, 1897-1925
WHAT IS A CATHEDRAL?
A Cathedral gets its name from the chair (a cathedra) in which a bishop is installed. In former times we would talk about the Bishop’s throne, but that suggests the bishop as a ruler rather than a servant of God. These days a bishop is the chief pastor of a diocese. In Canada, there are 30 dioceses and St. Michael and all Angels is the cathedral for the diocese of Kootenay, which covers a triangular area in the south eastern part of BC.
As a cathedral, St. Michael’s enjoys three arenas of ministry.
- The first arena is that it is a fairly large parish church. Those who enjoy the splendour and majesty of the Cathedral style of worship, come to St. Michael’s. We try to offer a wide variety of worship experience for those who call the Cathedral their parish home. A lot of our parish resources are devoted to maintaining a standard of excellence in traditional and contemporary liturgy and music. There is a high expectation on the quality of preaching and on breadth of expression in music.
- The second major arena of ministry is as the mother church of our diocese. Often, major events happen at St. Michael’s as people gather from around the diocese. Synods, ordinations, and major celebrations often take place at the Cathedral so that a primary ministry is one of hospitality. The chief pastor or incumbent at the Cathedral is also the Dean of Kootenay and as such is the second ecclesiastical officer, next to the Bishop. The Dean participates significantly in the offices of the diocese.
- The third arena in which the Cathedral exercises ministry is to all of the people in the city in which it is located. In England, before a town can become a city they must have a cathedral and thus a bishop and a dean. In Canada, cities often have a number of cathedrals. For example Winnipeg has 23 cathedrals of various denominations. St. Michael’s enjoys the distinction of being Kelowna’s only cathedral. Thus, we very much want to live up to being Kelowna’s Cathedral. As such, we try to provide people with a window to God whatever their religious tradition and experience. We have no desire to entice people away from the loyalties they may have to their own congregation. What we try to do is mark special events and lift up various contributions of people and occupations in our community. We strive to be a patron to the performing arts in the community and to go out of our way to support any initiatives that address human need.
Juggling these three arenas of ministry is indeed challenging and enriching and we find ourselves blessed in our adventure of being a cathedral. We attempt to undertake that adventure with a commitment to excellence in ministry.