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Boswell Historical Society buying St. Anselm’s Church

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An Anglican church on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake is expected to be acquired by the Boswell Historical Society and preserved for community use.

In early March, the society reached an agreement with the Diocese of Kootenay to buy St. Anselm’s for $97,500.

Society chair Margaret Crossley says in addition to accepting the offer, the church agreed to a “very generous period” of fundraising that gives them until mid-October to come up with the money.

If they are unable to do so, they can “back away virtually without penalty. Of course, we have no intention of doing that.”

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Crossley says since their relationship with the diocese dates back to the society’s inception in 2015. The following year they signed a lease, allowing them to use St. Anselm’s as the site of their annual general meetings, public presentations, and two major fundraisers.

In return, they have supported the diocese by paying the power bill and carrying out repairs, including to the cross and belfry. Members of the historical society and general members of the community also painted the building’s exterior.

“[We] came together to keep the beautiful little building in a functional state and we’ve been very committed to maintaining our side of the partnership over the years,” she says. “The diocese has appreciated that and we have very much appreciated having access to St. Anselm’s”.

Last summer, the church decided to sell over 50 rural properties, including St. Anselm’s and Harrison Memorial Church in Crawford Bay, which an arts group is also in the process of buying.

Crossley says St. Anselm’s will be renamed The Heart.

“The beautiful church is really a landmark. Members of the historical society, but really just Boswellians, have come to love the church and consider it an important part of our community.”

She says the church is home to all of its historical liturgical materials from the original church services held in Boswell near the start of the 20th century in the old memorial hall. When that building was replaced with the current hall, the community decided to build a Panabode structure as a new church, which was dedicated in 1964. All of the furnishings were moved to St. Anselm’s and remain there.

The last religious service in the church was Mary Smith Carruthers’ memorial service in the fall of 2014. The building was important to the devoted community member and longtime choir leader.

Crossley says she was “the champion of St. Anselm’s. She really almost single handedly lead the various upgrades to the church over the years … Many of us say that Mary’s sitting on our shoulder, guiding us forward, and very much continuing to influence many of those working hard to purchase St. Anselm’s.”

Sales from the historical society’s recently-published book, Boswell Beginnings and Beyond, will go toward purchase of the building. Crossley says society members and others have made donations, and they have several grant applications on the go, including one to the Columbia Basin Trust’s land acquisition program.

A series of fundraisers are also scheduled, starting with a Mother’s Day strawberry tea and local history celebration on Sunday, May 8. A fine art raffle will also be launched that day for works by several local artists, including Karen Arrowsmith, who has painted a landscape that features St. Anselm’s.

A rummage sale is planned for early July and an online silent auction will take place for a couple of weeks over the summer. A musical fundraiser is planned at the Boswell Memorial Hall in mid-August, followed by a dinner in September that may be organized in collaboration with local first responders.

Crossley says as they transition from St. Anselm’s to The Heart, they are also entering into a partnership with the Ktunaxa for a translation on their signage and correspondence.

“We want to extend the functions for The Heart well beyond the historical society,” she says. “We want The Heart to be a true community service facility. We believe The Heart can become one node along the East Shore to promote compassionate community development.”

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