The Church, cricket and Canada. Can you think of a connection there? You may not know this, but one of the earliest references to cricket and the Anglican Church goes back to a match between St. James Cathedral and St. Matthias, Bellwoods, held in Toronto on July 20, 1889. Moreover, at least two Anglican clerics – the Rev. F. W. Terry and the Rev. T. D. Phillips – had a big presence in the early days of cricket in Canada, with both representing the Canadian national team in the 1880s.
If the popularity of cricket in Canada during confederation reflected the British roots of the general populace at the time, cricket’s new popularity comes from changing demographics and how it shapes local recreation. It is with that in mind that two local Anglican churches in Mississauga planned to capitalize on the resurgence of cricket and organized a friendly cricket encounter in 2016. The event evolved over the next three years, attracting 10 churches in the Greater Toronto Area to what is now known as the Anglican Church Cricket Festival (ACCF).
The organizers regrouped in late 2021 and planned to recover and rebuild the great network of churches established through the ACCF, and held the first post-pandemic event last year. Despite the uncertainties around the pandemic, the organizers were pleasantly surprised to see over 70 parishioners, family and friends from five GTA churches attend the event on a glorious summer day. The Rev. David Matthews, incumbent of St. Thomas à Becket, welcomed the guests and officially opened the event with MPP Charmaine Williams, who is a parishioner of St. Joseph of Nazareth in Brampton. Addressing the gathering, Ms. Williams spoke about her love and passion for the mission of God and emphasized the importance of community-engagement events like the ACCF to share God’s love with the Church and people in the wider community.
All plans are now in place for another great ACCF event on July 15. While they may not have a repeat of the historic 1889 cricket match between the cathedral and St. Matthias, organizers are excited to welcome the Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen Fields, sub-dean and vicar of the cathedral and a avid cricket fan who has confirmed his attendance at this year’s event. Come, join your fellow Anglicans for a day of cricket, lovely cricket!
For more information on the cricket festival and to register your church to play, contact Ranil Mendis, ODT, at [email protected].