The Anglican traditions around the seasons of Advent and Christmas typically include a good deal of music. At All Saints’ in Edmonton, Canada, we are very blessed to have Jeremy Spurgeon as our Music Director. In addition to leading an excellent choir and providing us with spectacular classical hymns on the organ and grand piano, Jeremy invites a brass band to join us for the 11 pm Christmas Eve service.
In the hours leading up to Christmas Eve services, the chancel and sanctuary areas are massed with poinsettias and cedar branches. A very large crèche (approximately 5 feet tall, four feet wide, and two feet deep) is placed below the chancel steps. This particular crèche has a special history for us because it was handmade by a parishioner many years ago. The figures of the Holy Family, the wise men, the shepherds, and the animals were all hand carved by this same fellow. Every year the service begins with the Bishop blessing the crèche. Then the lights are lowered and the service continues by candlelight.
During the season of Epiphany, All Saints’ seems to have a particular affinity with the traditional carol, “Good King Wenceslas”. Perhaps this is because of our own winter conditions which typically include 2 to 3 feet of snow by Christmas, and fairly frigid temperatures; sometimes as low as -40 degrees. In this vein, we believe it is important to continue our winter mission work which is to provide a hot breakfast every Friday morning for anyone who is in need. Generally 50 to 80 people will enjoy this free meal each week. During the Christmas season, All Saints’ “Friendship Guild” distributes pairs of socks filled with a combination of treats and staples to our breakfast guests. A Christmas tree is also placed in the dining area, and we often hear our guests remark that they consider the tree as their very own.
Wishing you every blessing for a special Christmas season!
The Rev. Dr. Joanne Neal
William Temple Professor of Pastoral Leadership
The Rev. Dr. Joanne Neal was ordained as a vocational deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada in 2007 and has since served in that capacity at All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral in Edmonton, Alberta. She is also Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University College of Alberta. Dr. Neal has been involved in the field of education since 1986 when she earned a B.Ed. Degree (University of Alberta). She holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Policy and Management (University of Oregon, 1990) and a Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum Studies (University of Alberta, 1996). In 2010, she was the recipient of an Oxford Foundation Fellowship from the Graduate Theological Foundation. (Read Dr. Neal's complete GTF Faculty Profile.)