Dick Hunt's Blog

February 28, 2011

Old and New

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 9:04 pm

Old and New
by Dick Hunt, February 28th, 2011

When we first went to Stettler after my Ordination, I called on the Roman Catholic Priest.  He had been in his Parish for 25 years at that point and his name was Father Battle.  He was well named.  His housekeeper showed me in and he was muttering under his breath.  I introduced myself and he grumbled hello.  I noticed he had two hearing aids and remarked that they must be helpful.  He rejoined that they were the best thing he ever had.  “If I don’t want to listen, I just turn them off”.  He was not popular but he was firmly in charge.   A few years later he received a young Priest to assist him, named Father Ayling.

This one was a gentle and friendly chap but didn’t seem very happy. I encountered him on the sidewalk on the way uptown one day and we stopped to talk a bit.  He revealed that the Parishioners really didn’t want to talk with him and he felt very lonely.  I suggested that we should go on to the Hotel Coffee shop and he said. “do you think we should?” I said, “sure” and off we went.  That was about 50 years ago.  We walked in and sat in a booth and the stares we received from the patrons indicated something of a  shock.  “What are these fellows doing together?”  They had never seen any sort of collaboration before between Anglican and R.C. clergy before.

We didn’t let them bother us and after a few such visits they accepted us as friends.  In fact there was very little interplay between the various “Ministers” in the town.  The first time I attended a Ministerial meeting, I was certainly the new boy.  They had a custom of praying in a circle at the beginning of the meeting. When it came my turn to pray, they watched me closely to see if I would “pray from a book”.  When I prayed extemporaneously they accepted me as one of them.
While we were there, I was elected Chair of the Ministerial.  One of my challenges was to persuade the members that we should undertake a request from the Town Council to do a complete visit of all the residents to catalogue them for the purpose of revealing the base for Municipal grants to the Town for tax purposes.  In my talk with the Council, I suggested we also be authorized to ask the residents their religious affiliations.  The Council agreed to advertize that along with their tax base plans.  When I reported back to the Ministers the result of my talk with Town authorities, they were in agreement that we should comply. I phoned Father Battle, but he shortly declined, saying that he knew who all his people were.

We had cards printed and set boundaries to facilitate doing a complete survey, both for the Town and the Churches.  The task was completed in due course and we sorted the cards at a meeting
and turned them over to the various Churches for their records.  We also reported in the Newspaper the results of the survey. Then I had a call from Father Battle.   “Could he have the R.C. cards?”  I said, “well, you know who all your people are”.  Then after an awkward pause, he said “you apparently found people I didn’t know about”. I told him I would have to consult with the other Clergy, which I did, at a meeting.  They were all for refusing and dividing up the R.C. cards among us.  I talked them out of that, saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.  I finally took the cards to Father Battle.

We have come a long way from the traditions of those days.  But we still have a long way to go.  We are called to be one, as there is one Lord and one Body, one God and Father of all.  The world has every right to be suspicious of our motives and divisions.  The divisions  must be only between active believers and unbelievers, based on the Holy Scriptures which are from God and made clear to us by the Holy Spirit.

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