No, it's not the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Elizabeth Rushton (pictured right). Rather, this month (December, 2015) marks the 50th anniversary of John's ordination to the ministry!
The majority of the following informative and loving words come from Elizabeth, with only minor editing done by your faithful webmaster (thank you, Elizabeth!)...
Our Honourary Assistant, John, graduated from the Anglican Theological College in Vancouver (now part of the Vancouver School of Theology) in May of 1965 and was ordained deacon that month at St. Michael & All Angels, Kelowna, the parish where he was assigned as Assistant Curate. (Mike Lynch currently holds this position in our parish.) He was ordained priest on December 19th the same year and celebrated his first Eucharist on December 21st, 1965.
The following year, the Rushtons headed to Kimberley, BC for a three-month interim stint while the rector was on holiday, following which they moved to the parish of Golden and Field, BC with John as rector. It was there that their first daughter, Judith, was born. After that was a position with a team ministry, centred at Nelson, BC.
In November of 1968, the three Rushtons moved to Onoway and John continued his calling for the first time in the Diocese of Edmonton. The parish at that time consisted on St. John's, Onoway and All Saints' Church, Seba Beach year 'round, with summer services at St. Aiden & St. Hilda Church, Rexboro and Trinity Chapel at Bull Bay near Alberta Beach. The rectory was behind the church at Onoway.
While doing visiting duties at the Stony Plain Hospital, John met some other Anglicans and began with services at the home of Mrs. Lily Looker, before arranging monthly services at the then Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Stony Plain, which eventually became weekly. Around that time, services had also been started in Spruce Grove and that community was eventually added to John's care. As the parish was growing, a move was made to Stony Plain in the fall of 1972 and the family have lived there ever since. During the Rushtons' time at Onoway, two more daughters were born, Beverley and Carol, both in the old Stony Plain Hospital.
Unfortunately it wasn't too long after that that John began to experience symptoms of exhaustion after ministering to such a far flung parish. So, in 1974, he resigned as rector and began a career with CN Rail, trains having always been his second love. Although it was a secular job, he found many opportunities for ministry among the other employees and, as his shifts permitted, participated in the re-organized parish of Stony Plain and Spruce Grove, still under the name of St. Augustine's Mission, later St. Augustine's-Parkland when the parish became self supporting.
John was delighted to participate in the weddings of his daughters Beverley and Carol, and also to baptize his three grandchildren, Hayley, Josh, and Dexter.
Since his retirement from CN, John has volunteered for many years with Family & Community Support Services in Stony Plain as their Grief & Bereavement Co-Ordinator and has co-facilitated many groups, walking with members of the community on their grief journey following the loss of a loved one. He feels privileged to be able to share with them and with all those he meets during that difficult time in their lives. He gained a Certificate in Death & Grief Studies through the University of Colorado by attending many courses at the Centre for Loss in Fort Collins, Colorado. His is a quiet ministry, but is always ready to lend a listening ear to anyone at any time, and feels privileged to have shared in many deeply moving moments in hospitals or nursing homes.
Unfortunately John's health in the last year has curtailed his efforts to (figuratively) swim across Canada, following many main line and branch line tracks on both CN and CP. For many years he was a fixture in the pool at the Tri Leisure Centre in Spruce Grove and has a certificate for swimming 400,000 lengths! However he did manage to accomplish his goals and enjoyed the challenge of reaching various stations as he went along. (Too bad there weren't any track-side signs to read along the way! -- ed.)
All of us at St. Augustine's - Parkland acknowledge and thank John for his many years of service to the Anglican church and to the people of Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Parkland County. Way to go, JR!
Editor's Note: With that bit of history now documented on our website, I believe this qualifies the Rushton family as the longest-term parishioners of St. Augustine's - Parkland Anglican Church.
Addendum: On December 20th, John was honoured by the parish with a special prayer, conducted at the conclusion of our regular Sunday worship service. Pictures of that event can be viewed here.