St. Barbara’s Anglican Church in Okanagan Falls is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, May 26 exactly a half century to the day after its official opening in 1963.
After years of meeting in the dining room of the old Alexandra Hotel and in the Okanagan Falls United Church which was moved from the Fairview townsite in 1929, the Anglican community decided to build a church of its own on two lots donated by Major Hugh Fraser of Okanagan Falls.
Hugh Leir donated the building materials and Deputy Warden Tom Worth designed the original church and was a leading figure in its construction. The Right Reverend Bishop William Coleman of the Diocese of Kootenay officially opened the new church on May 26, 1963.
The first priest was Reverend John Stainer followed by the Rev. Des Holt, Canon Alan Jackson, Rev. Brock Lupton, Rev. Randy Wood, Rev. Hugo Jackson, Rev. Virginia Briant, Rev. Doug Stanley, Rev. Nico Montalbetti and current incumbent Rev. Rick Paulin. Several other priests served St. Barbara’s in a temporary capacity over the years, most notably Rev. Derek Salter.
St. Barbara’s received its name and some of its furnishings from St. Barbara’s Church at the Copper Mountain townsite near Princeton. Initially, there was discussion about moving the entire church from Copper Mountain to Okanagan Falls but it proved to be impractical so only the pews and the original chalice were relocated.
In 1970, the building loan was paid off and the church mortgage was burned at a St. Patrick’s Day supper held in the Legion hall.
In 1968 Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church began holding services at St. Barbara’s, and for the past several years an annual combined community service of lessons and carols has been hosted in December by the United Church, Our Lady of Lourdes, the Community Church and St. Barbara’s.
To meet the needs of the thriving Anglican parish and congregation, Canon Alan Jackson arranged the purchase of a portable classroom from the OK Falls elementary school to serve as a church hall in 1982. Over the past 10 years a number of building projects have been undertaken including a new church foyer, office, washrooms and roof and kitchen upgrading.
To celebrate its 50 years in the community, the public is invited to attend a special service followed by a wine and cheese reception and cake cutting ceremony commencing at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 26 at St. Barbara’s Anglican Church at 1039 Willow Street in Okanagan Falls.
The service will be conducted by the Right Reverent John Privett, Bishop of Kootenay assisted by Rev. Rick Paulin. Guests will include former priests, representatives from other churches in the South Okanagan and original members of the parish.