Nobody was more surprised than members of the historic Grace United Church in Coombs when the 70-year-old church was selected for inclusion in the 2017 Canadian Church Calendar.
Indeed, they didn't even know a photo of the church had been submitted.
"They called us to say we were in the calendar, and we said, 'What? Really?'" said Christine Bell, a member of the United Church Women's Group.
Bell and Donna Jollimore staffed a table in the church basement during the UCW craft bazaar Saturday. The table included a stack of the calendars, which they were selling as a church fundraiser.
The photo, one of 12 included in the 2017 edition of the nationwide United Church Calendar, was shot by Courtenay photographer Claude Dalley.
Dalley, a retired provincial government employee who has been shooting photos professionally since 2005, is a member of the United Church, and recalls an announcement in church a few years ago requesting submissions for photos for a calendar.
"So I photographed every United church from Campbell River to Victoria, something like 37 of them altogether, and I heard back on none of them."
But the photos were apparently saved for further review. Dalley's image of Grace United used in the 2017 calendar was shot in December of 2014 and is ideally suited for the month. It shows the front of the church building with a skiff of snow on the lawn and the legend "Wise men still seek him" on the reader board at the front of the building.
It is one of two Dalley pictures selected for this year's calendar — his image of James Bay United Church in Victoria illustrates the May calendar page.
2017 is proving to be an auspicious year for the photographer, a member of both the Comox Valley Community and Campbell River arts councils. In addition to the selection of his photos for the calendar, he will be holding his first solo show of more than 42 photos at the Pearl Ellis Art Gallery from Jan. 10-29.
"I figured I'm too old to hunt and fish," he said with a laugh. "So I picked up photography 10 years ago, and I'm loving it."
The ladies at Grace United are just as happy. They have acquired a number of the 2017 church calendars and will continue to sell them, for $10 each, to help raise funds for the church.
To order a calendar, call Bell at 250-586-8397.