Without a minister for four months, St. George’s Anglican Church in Stettler welcomed the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Langford, who began her new job Aug. 1.
“I am passionate about rural ministry,” said Rev. Langford, who grew up in Lethbridge and wanted to return close to home after 30 years.
Ordained in 1993 in the Anglican Church of Canada in the Diocese of Ottawa, she succeeds Rev. Jack Schulze, who retired in March after 20 years in full-time ministry.
“I have always loved rural,” said Langford, who has served in five rural parishes in Ontario.
“I think it’s the smallness that can make it more intimate that allows me to be a pastor, rather than a manager.”
Most recently, she served three-and-a-half years at a college in Uganda as principal and lecturer in agriculture, theology and veterinary science, with her training as a veterinarian.
“I am passionate about sharing the love of God as shown in Christ with rural communities,” Langford said.
“I love worshipping in community, experiencing the gospel with both children and adults, and ministering to those who are home-bound or in care facilities.”
She said that her Gospel ministry has far-reaching and positives influences in the lives of people in churches, communities and around the world.
“I believe that in loving others as ourselves, we must pay attention to injustices inherent in our social and economic systems.” Langford said.
She said she brings vast enthusiasm and experience to a small but determined parish that has struggled in recent years, and has rebuilt the parish with hopes of an optimistic future.
St. George’s hosts a celebration Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m. to launch the next chapter in the parish, which has a history of more than 100 years.
“They have worked hard to keep this parish and learned from it,” Langford said.
“And it makes them very strong.”
Children’s church also returns that Sunday.
“For families with children, we are planning great things for you all,” Langford said.
“To those who have been hurt in the past difficulties at St. George’s and have not found a faith community in which they are comfortable, I would say you are most welcome to come home.”
She has a deep desire to strengthen the church, reach into the community and work with other local churches.
“Initially, my primary emphases will be to encourage vibrant worship, strong pastoral care and a variety of opportunities for spiritual and community growth,” Langford said.
“Our focus at St. George’s is to continue to grow in our faith through vibrant worship, prayer and study.
“In this way, we will build a community of love and mutual support that can serve the community.”
From that base, she hopes to further impact the community.
“As we grow as a (parish) community, we will then look for appropriate ways to serve the larger community.”
With many small churches in the region, she said it’s vital to have a strong, unified presence.
“I hope we can do a lot of things together,” Langford said. “We need to support each other.”
As a single person, she said she’s available more to the ministry.
Living in a rural area brings Langford back to her farming roots. She had been employed with Agriculture Canada, dealing with safety in foods of animal origin.