What do you do when you’re a small rural parish in snowmobile country, anticipating the arrival of your new incumbent from Turks and Caicos? (That’s right, those Caribbean islands Canadians flee to for relief from our frigid winter weather.) Well, you roll up your sleeves and get to work to prepare the sunniest, warmest helping of small-town Anglican hospitality this side of the 22nd parallel.
The parish rectory at St. James, Fenelon Falls, situated next to the church and its community garden, is a small three-bedroom gem, with hardwood floors and charming details, built about 70 years ago. Many incumbents have called it home over the years.
Parishioners of the Parish of Fenelon Falls and Coboconk saw their opportunity when they realized the rectory would need to be not only spruced up for the new residents, but completely furnished. The Rev. Alvardo Adderley and his family wouldn’t be arriving with a vanload of furniture, but on a jumbo jet from the south.
Christ Church and St. James’ churchwardens penned a letter to call for donations and all hands on deck. “But we didn’t even manage to send it out,” says Emily Twigg, churchwarden at Christ Church. “The offers of quality furniture and help just started coming in.” In no time there were beds, sofas, televisions, leather armchairs and a stunning dining set. Some things needed a little TLC, so that was given too. There were repairs, fresh paint and stocking of the kitchen to make sure the new family had all it needed for its household. Lynne Jackson, community garden coordinator and parishioner, planted one of the raised beds with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, okra and summer squash for the family, with an early zucchini already destined for the freezer in the form of zucchini bread.
Parishioners were invited to see the results at a rectory open house on June 26, a rare parish event with COVID-19 protocols still preventing large gatherings, but one that helped channel the excitement for welcoming the new family. The Rev. Alvardo and Michelle Adderley, their two adult children and a grandchild were expected to arrive in July, pending immigration and quarantine requirements.
Fully furnishing a rectory is uncommon — maybe a first — in the diocese, where clergy generally arrive by land, bringing their household effects with them. But the Parish of Fenelon Falls and Coboconk has always embraced new opportunities placed in its path. St. James was the first church established in Fenelon Falls in the 1830s. Co-founder (and acclaimed artist) Anne Langton didn’t shirk from a whole assortment of church duties, including regular preaching, not a common practice for women of her day. More recently, the wedding of parishioners at St. James marked the first Anglican same-sex marriage ceremony in the diocese. Christ Church, Coboconk, which ordinarily offers hospitality in the form of community pancake breakfasts and soup lunches, adapted to months of COVID-19 restrictions without blinking, by offering a take-out version of its Tuesday “Soup’s On.” Now the parish is looking forward to the joy of welcoming all the culture and diversity the Adderley family will bring with them, and new ways to share the gospel message in this small corner of the diocese.
Parishioners are confident there will be plenty of warmth generated in this whole process — warm-heartedness that will perhaps distract the Adderleys from thoughts of the Caribbean when a certain drop in outdoor temperatures seems to last longer than expected.
Diane Engelstad is a member of St. James, Fenelon Falls. The Rev. Alvardo Adderley arrived in the parish in July.