I will slowly be working on this page. I am hoping to add all the material I have from the old site that is about Rev. Norm Russell and to find some pictures of the founding members.
The Spiritualist Church of Salmon Arm, by (the late) Rev. Norm Russell
On August 16th, 1996 my wife Rosemarie arrived to settle in Salmon Arm. Rose had made several trips from Surrey to Kamloops to visit our daughter, and on a couple of these trips, they had taken a picnicking day trip to Salmon Arm. Her description of the area to me was somewhat like a description of Shangri-La. When I later joined her on one of these trips I had to agree.
I had just completed a five-year training course for the ministry in the I.S.A. in New Westminster, and I think the thought of a Spiritualist Church here was pretty high on my to-do list.
Rose and I visited Peter and Lorraine Sawchuk in Vernon, they had migrated here from Delta a couple of years previous. Lorraine had also taken the ministers’ training course in New Westminster. Needless to say, it was not long until the subject of a church came up, and we were all agreed. Peter started the paperwork with the Society people. On Feb. 12th, if my memory serves me well, we were chartered as the Cosmic Awareness Society.
Peter, Lorraine, Rose and I were the Board along with their son Craig and his wife, Christie. It was decided to have services in Salmon Arm on the first and third Sunday and the second and fourth Sunday in Vernon.
It was also decided that any monies from the collection that accumulated after paying rent for wherever we held services would go to charities in the town they were collected in.
There was no worry about that part for quite a while to come. On August 3rd, 1997 we held our first service in Salmon Arm with six people besides ourselves in attendance. The two groups were quite similar in attendance and gradually grew to the low twenties over the first few months.
We had a Candlelight Service in both places the first Christmas which attracted a few more people.
Sadly on March 17th, 1998 Peter suffered a massive aneurysm and passed into Spirit Realms. Lorraine said she would try to keep the Vernon group going, with the help of her church members.
After a year or more it proved too much for her and we were not able to help much as I had become involved in Hospice and other ventures. Lorraine had, met and married Lloyd Hunt and for the sake of his health, they had moved to Alberta.
With the closure of the Vernon church, we started having services every Sunday in Salmon Arm.
With the congregation growing and I getting on into my Eighties, the curse that always haunted Spiritualist churches loomed. Someone to take over. A couple of ladies tried but found it to be too much. Then Heather Howard and Gloria Makey agreed to give the address alternating with me. I still had the messages on my plate. Also, I was warned by both of them “Don’t mention the word minister.”
Lorraine and Lloyd had returned to our area, Lorraine had barely got started again when she was given the sad news that she had cancer. She was booked to do a memorial service, and I had a wedding at coinciding times. Lorraine had an emergency during the night and was taken to the hospital, I called Colleen Rempel and asked if she felt she could take the service for the little girl who had died accidentally. I went with her to the funeral home and did a walkthrough, and the die was cast. There was no hesitation when I asked her if she would like to follow that path further.
In the meantime, sadly Heather’s family had run into the terrible illness of her sister, and she decided to move to the coast. Gloria was due to go on holidays, Lorraine was no longer able to take services. Colleen was taking services, one problem, she was also our pianist. I had gone to Gloria before she went on holidays and said, “I have to ask you a question,” she told me to ask it when they got back, which I did, and she gave the right answer, “Yes I will.” So after a period of study both Colleen and Gloria were ordained. Ann Meakes who served for a long period of time has been studying and serving is now up for ordination in the spring and has taken her place in the many areas of service.
So here I am ninety, still hanging around the edges but very happy knowing that others have stepped forward and the church will go on.
This is only a thumbnail sketch of these eighteen years. There have been times of great jubilation. Times of despair. Times of extreme sadness. One of those times is now, as the gal who helped hold it all together, Rosemarie has been struck by dementia and cannot savor all those great moments with me.
Rev. Norm Russell naming ceremony.
Rev. Norm Russell surprise birthday