Sent via email on May 18th, 2011
Well, I've been to Borderlands, returned to Toronto and survived. In fact, I think I will quite like living and working there.
Two things prompted me to fly to Saskatchewan for four days over the past weekend: the need to find a place to rent when I begin work as the minister there on July 1st and the fact that Chinook Presbytery, which gathers only three times a year, was meeting in one of the three Borderlands churches (Wesley United in Rockglen) last Saturday, May 14th. So after graduating from Emmanuel at the convocation ceremony last Thursday, I flew to Regina the next evening, drove west to Moose Jaw, and then continued the drive south early on Saturday morning.
The geography of Rockglen, Fife Lake and Coronach -- nestled just west of Grasslands National Park and just north of the Montana border -- is varied, weird and spectacularly beautiful. Rockglen reminds me of the Badlands near Drumheller Alberta with steep hills rising everywhere. The 30 min. drive east to Coronach is one of long sloping hills, which at present are dotted with numerous sloughs that glisten dark blue when the sun shines, as it did all weekend. In between is Fife Lake, a hamlet of 50 people. To me, the latter looked like an abandoned Hollywood set of the Wild West, except that the hotel and church are still operating. The Fife Lake church is tiny and gorgeous, and the five women who came to worship there on Sunday afternoon with the current minister, Rev. Kevin Johnson, and me, welcomed me warmly.
Presbytery was . . . well . . . Presbytery. But I am glad to now know most of my colleagues, even if some of them are more than six hours drive away, and none closer than an hour. After the all-day meeting, Kevin graciously hosted me at his apartment, and I learned a lot by spending many hours talking with him. Borderlands has three worship services every week, with a lunch after the second one in Rockglen. Besides the five people in Fife Lake this week, there were 14 people each in Coronach and Rockglen. Worship in three small points will be a change for me, but one that I look forward to.
A highlight for me was getting a tour of the manse after the first service in Coronach. It turns out that the couple now renting it will probably move into their newly purchased home before July 1st, so after looking at some rental places in both Rockglen and Coronach on Monday, I've decided to take the manse. It is a 5-bedroom, 1970s bungalow, and I quite like it. You can see the exterior of it on Google Maps Street View if you search for 142 3rd Street West, Coronach, Saskatchewan. It is the one with a weeping willow in the front yard. 153 3rd Street W. -- the one with the blue cross on the front -- is the "Lutheran parsonage." The Lutheran minister and a Roman Catholic priest in Rockglen (a recent immigrant from India) are the only paid clergy besides me in the three communities.
Coronach is very isolated, but the beauty to be experienced in driving from there to Assinboia, or Moose Jaw or Regina (the latter is about 2.5 hour drive away) cheers me. The 30-minute drive between the two furthest points in the charge is an easy one, except when it is covered in ice or snow. Monday was a very windy day, and tumbleweed was flying everywhere. Not surprisingly, there is virtually no traffic given that only 900 people live in Coronach and only 400 in Rockglen. I saw one deer by the road when approaching Moose Jaw Tuesday, but very few cars.
And the rottweiler? He was lurking in the entrance to the bar in Rockglen, where I met the chair of the Search Committee for dinner on Monday. But despite his appearance, the dog like the owners of the bar, seemed very friendly.
I may drop you a line about further wild west adventures sometimeafter I have moved out there in July.
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