A Brief History of St. Michael’s

The real history of St. Michael’s should be told by the thousands of people who have been touched one way or another in the hundred years that this congregation has existed. It should be told by those who have found their connection to God through the ministrations of this church, or by those who have experienced renewal, joy, peace, love, and hope – above all, hope – because of what happens here. It could be told by those who have found the church ready for them when they needed it, for celebrations, for baptisms, marriages, for weekly worship and the sacrament, and for solace in time of sorrow. Through the years, that is our real history.

The first Anglican service in Kelowna was held above Lequime’s Store on Bernard Avenue on May 27, 1894, with the Reverend Thomas Greene officiating. The first building was put up on land donated by the Lequime brothers, where the Kelowna Museum now stands, and was consecrated on October 5, 1895.

This building immediately proved too small, and plans began for a new structure. By 1908 land on the current site had been acquired, and a local architect, W. A. Peters, was chosen to design the building. The fine new building, of local sandstone with granite trim, was consecrated on June 13, 1913, and continues in use to the present day.

This bright beginning was followed by the outbreak of World War I, and by its end the parish had lost forty-seven members of the congregation. But the parish recovered from this blow, and through the ‘20’s and ‘30’s planted new congregations in the Okanagan, and became renowned for its Boys’ Choir.

Again, after WW II, the parish renewed, and in 1949 built the Parish Hall that served Kelowna so well for so many years, giving the town a first-class gymnasium and stage. A rectory was built on the site in 1956.

The ‘60’s and ‘70’s proved a difficult time for St. Michael’s as it did for so many “mainline” churches. The renewal movement that resulted saw changes made to both the church interior and to worship practices, so as to reflect an emerging view of the spiritual relationship that church membership involves.

In 1987 St. Michael’s was named the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Kootenay. (Formerly the pro-cathedral had been located in Nelson). The Cathedral has served as home to three bishops: the Right Reverend Fraser Berry; The Most Reverend David Crawley, who was also Archbishop of British Columbia and for a time the Acting Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and our current Bishop, the Right Reverend John Privett. The first Dean of the Cathedral was the then incumbent of St. Michael’s, the Very Reverend Jack Greenhalgh. When he retired in 2000, Archbishop Crawley, with the support of the selection committee, appointed Allan Reed as Dean of Kootenay and Incumbent of the Cathedral. When Dean Reed’s retired in January of 2009, Bishop Privett appointed a Bishop’s Personnel Commission to conduct the search for a replacment. This resulted in the appointement of Nissa Basbaum as Dean of the Cathedral, effective November 26, 2009.