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The Ven. Travis Enright is certain communities grow stronger when people of faith are empowered to use their gifts to live the Gospel together.

Recently, Enright, Indigenous Ministries’ Archdeacon for the Edmonton diocese, accepted a call to lead the parish of St. Mary’s. This would not be unusual if Enright were not already rector of St. Faith’s. 

The two Edmonton parishes are within a 10-minute drive from one another. Yet, the churches serve diverse communities. St. Faith’s is in the heart of the eclectic Alberta Avenue district, while St. Mary’s bridges the historic Highlands, an emerging arts hub, and the Beverly neighbourhood which is also home to a large Indigenous population and immigrant families from all over the world who are beginning life anew in Canada.

Enright says the churches will continue to be community spiritual centers. He will lead Sunday services at both parishes, alternating with other clergy members at St. Faith’s, and lay leaders at St. Mary’s.

Through collaboration and pooling their resources, people, and otherwise, St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s will be enabled to share Jesus’ love with an even wider community circle. 

The need for the support provided by PrayerWorks ministries at St. Faith’s intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing three community meals every week, PrayerWorks also began offering freshly baked sourdough bread and market-priced produce at the Lodge Pole Market. 

St. Mary’s is “a hidden community hub,” says Enright, with several spaces, including upper and lower halls. The parish currently distributes food hampers for Edmonton’s Food Bank and houses a daycare, but that still leaves lots of room. 

One of the most impactful ministries of St. Faith’s, where new voices find a safe space for creative expression and reflection is Bleeding Heart. Bleeding Heart has not had a physical gallery since its lease expired in 2020. But the monthly service continues and artists were invited to take over Bleeding Heart’s social media accounts, giving them the opportunity to share their stories and art with the community. Soon, the Bleeding Heart Gallery will re-open at St. Mary’s. 

“We hope to hold an open house this spring,” says Enright.

The Standing Stones ministry, traditional Anglican liturgies incorporating traditional Indigenous spiritual practices, which also includes ceremonies and teaching circles on the Seven Sacred Teachings led by elder Russell Auger, will be based at St. Mary’s, as well. 

Eventually, St. Mary’s may even be home to a Healing of Memories Wisdom Centre to foster healing, reconciliation and communities of belonging.

By working together to provide community-based, lay-empowered ministry, as well as space for healing conversations, Enright says St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s will be able to help more people “see Jesus, not as a mythical figure, but the incarnate word animated in their lives.”

Caption: On a Sunday in February, Indigenous cultural teacher and youth life skills instructor Adrian LaChance leads a virtual workshop at St. Mary’s, Edmonton, while community members participate in a work bee.