When parishoners at St. Anne and St. Edmund’s Anglican Church look to their compass of compassion, the needle is likely to be pointing in two directions at once.
First, it will point to the 50th anniversary of St. Edmund’s in 2012 and secondly, it will point to the 25 years of service by parish administrator Dianne Snider.
Reverend Andrew Twiddy said the anniversary event, dubbed Compass for Compassion, will take place at the Oceanic Ballroom at The Beach Club Resort in Parksville on Friday, June 8, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
From its beginnings as a parish hall in downtown Parksville, to the construction of St. Edmund’s at the current site of the medical clinic, to the relocation of St. Edmund’s at the St. Anne’s site on Church Road, St. Edmund’s has been a source of strength and inspiration, where thousands of people over the years have worshipped week-by-week, and have marked the passages of their lives in baptism, confirmation, marriage, and at times of grief and family bereavement.
“Our festive atmosphere for the afternoon will include appetizers, a cash bar, memories and memorabilia, and live music and entertainment, featuring Ron Klusmeier at the piano, and the voices of A Cappella Plus under the direction of Rosemary Lindsay,” Twiddy said. “As we take a grateful look backward in time, so we look around us and look forward with anticipation and invite awareness and engagement with our work for the years ahead.”
The event will feature an introduction of the new Charter for Compassion program, a Canadian Foodgrains Bank display, appetizers, a cash bar, memorabilia and a 25-year service award for Snider, who will cut the ribbon at 4 p.m.
The Charter for Compassion was first written in 2008 and has since been translated into more than 30 languages. Essentially, it calls for people to treat others as they wish to be treated themselves and to refrain from inflicting pain, arguing that to incite hatred by denigrating others is a denial of people’s common humanity.
The charter calls on believers to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion and calls any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain illegitimate.
To this end, the charter calls for youth to be given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures — to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity — to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings — even those regarded as enemies.
Anyone is welcome to attend the event, with admission a suggested donation of $10.
NOT MUCH KNOWN ABOUT ST. EDMUND
So who was St. Edmund? Not much is known about the East Anglian king, and for good reason. After the Vikings tortured him to death in 869, they made a point of destroying any evidence of his reign.
What is known from later accounts in the Anglo Saxon Chronical and other sources indicates he was born in 841 and crowned king of East Anglia on Christmas Day in 855.
He was considered a good king, but his reign was relatively brief. In 865 the Great Heathen Army of Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan Ragnarsson and his brother, Ubbe Ragnarsson, turned its attention from sacking Paris to invading England.
In 866 the army conquered Northumbria and Mercia before, in 870, it attacked Edmund’s forces in East Anglia.
Fighting under their dreaded raven banner, the Viking army was again victorious, taking the kingdom in 870. Prior to that, on November 20, 869, they were able to capture Edmund and, after he refused to renounce Christ and submit to their Pagan religion, they tied him to a tree, beat him, shot him repeatedly with arrows and then beheaded him.
The king’s head was thrown into the forest and the Viking army moved on, conquering York and the kingdom of Wessex, eventually occupying most of England.
They were eventually defeated by Alfred the Great in 878.