It’s Sunday night and I am at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, winging my way back home to Winnipeg after a weekend preaching tour of our LCC stations in Atlantic Canada.
I flew Friday from Winnipeg (via Toronto and Montreal) to Charlottetown, capital of Prince Edward Island. Locals tell me it’s a shame it was overcast. I only caught sight of our tiniest province when the plane descended through the clouds on its final descent to the runway. Glad we weren’t late! I arrived about 5:15 p.m., and the first service was set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Pastor David Milette of Moncton met me at the airport, and within minutes we were driving through this calm, picturesque little capital city to “All Souls Chapel,” the sacred site for our worship. All Souls stands beside the Anglican cathedral of Charlottetown (called St. Peter’s), and the host congregation has graciously offered this place for services free of charge. In recent years, a number of Lutheran people have moved to PEI, but there is no Lutheran congregation. Pastor Milette and the mission-minded church in Moncton have reached out with monthly services for a while now, aided in recent months by a seminary summer vicar who lived in Charlottetown.
A handful of worshipers arrived for the service. Pastor Milette presided, while I preached and tried my hand at the chapel organ. Afterward we lingered and talked with those who attend, most of whom are not native “Islanders,” but have come from far-flung places like Calgary, Winnipeg, Nova Scotia—and, in one case, a woman who returned to her native PEI after decades in western Canada.
Later we drove the “Confederation Bridge” and returned to Moncton, arriving just before 1 a.m. Pastor Milette’s wife, Doris (a former treasured church member of mine from St. Catharines, Ont.), opened their home and a guest room, where I quickly drifted off to sleep.
Moncton is called the “hub” of Atlantic Canada, and it became the hub of this weekend’s travels. On Saturday I drove with Pastors Milette and Paul Williams the three hours to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. We stopped in Truro for wonderful seafood (at Murphy’s Fish-and-Chips downtown … try it when you’re in Truro). One of the proprietors seemed gladdened by having three pastors in the restaurant, and asked me to pray for her business as we left, which I gladly did. There is an extraordinary friendliness here among waiters in restaurants, I find.
By 4 p.m. we were ready to begin the service at Faith in Dartmouth. Members assembled in the small house/chapel as I preached again. Afterwards, we had an indoor picnic downstairs in the fellowship room. This congregation may be an outpost, and may be small, but the people obviously treasure each other’s company. Members stayed for a long time, chatting and telling the stories of how they came to live in this area and find their way to our church here. A graduate student from Ontario, a Nova Scotia native trying to get re-adjusted after years in Saskatchewan, and others with fascinating stories of their pilgrimages in life and in the faith fill our time. It was already dark when we got into the car for the three-hour return drive back to Moncton.
Sunday morning brought a service at Good Shepherd, Moncton, a place whose progress I’ve followed with interest since the 1980s, but which I had never visited. This was a big day for the congregation! In the morning I preached at the regular service, then enjoyed a wonderful fellowship dinner. Then, I took an after-lunch tour of Kingswood Academy, a day-care in a new building right next door to the church.
Upstairs in the same new structure Concordia Academy is launching its first academic year as a Lutheran school. Kingswood is a stunning success and is already hoping to expand the building, since many young families are streaming into Moncton. The hope is it will prove a source of students for Concordia, and the Lord may provide many mission prospects through these ministry efforts.
At 3 p.m. we marked the opening service for the new school year where I preached the last sermon of the weekend. I’m deeply impressed by the devotion of Pastor and Doris Milette and by the willingness of Concordia’s new developer/principal Deacon Shelaine Clasper, who recently accepted the call here after ten years in Prince George, B.C. (Not to mention her “grit” in driving alone all the way across Canada to get to Moncton!)
There’s much more to tell, and … I’m convinced … great prospects to expand the Lord’s work and ultimately to plant congregations in Atlantic Canada. As I rush off to my next airplane, I ask you to hold these preaching stations, their leaders and people, in your prayers.
Greetings in Christ, the Harvest’s great Lord,
Robert Bugbee, President