The "Know Your Church" Project

Objects, colours, sacred space – what does it all mean? St. Augustine’s is a very interesting church with many fascinating features, and many have a story to tell. Have you ever wondered? Well, a small group interested in church history and liturgy has come together to capture those stories before they are forgotten. The Know Your Church Project is focused on creating an historical record of St. Augustine’s Lethbridge. But more than that, the group seeks to share what it learns about individual objects and practices, such as the main elements of Anglican worship – a sort of an “Anglican 101” for people who may not know, for example, why the colours change in the church or the significance of the procession or the priestly vestments. 
Here’s what we’ve learned so far …







Come Unto Me: These stained glass windows in the Narthex were dedicated to Canon Leslie L. Grant, Rector of St. Augustine’s Church from October 1942 to the fall of 1961. The dedication plaque which is now in the Narthex refers to the windows as being in “His Memory.” He said at the time that the phraseology was rather premature as he was then still very much alive! The windows were installed by a group of his friends in 1948 in recognition of Canon Grant’s great devotion to the Eucharist. They depict Our Lord celebrating Holy Communion.

The Ray Cook Memorial Window, located inside the church’s main entrance, commemorates the life of Ray Cook, a devoted member of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in North Lethbridge. Ray served his church faithfully over 50 years holding almost every position that a lay member can hold including 35 years as Rector’s Warden. He also supervised and performed most of the work in a major renovation and modernization of the interior of the church. This window, along with Cowan window, was bult by Demes Art Glass Studio in Hill Spring, Alberta. The colours in the border were chosen to match the woodwork in the interior of the church. The subject is the Ascension of Christ, a central part of Ray’s strong beliefs. The flowers are irises and forget-me-nots. The 11 Irises represent Ray’s wife, Iris, and their eleven children. The forget-me-nots represent Ray’s losing struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Near the top of the window is a small plane which appears out of place. Ray was a pioneer in the building and flying of radio controlled model airplanes and this small model is a tribute to Ray. The artist’s signature is represented by an ant hidden in the windows.

The Cowan Memorial Window features a Madonna and Child set in the Oldman River valley in Lethbridge. The Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen as the focus for this window as the Cowan family ministered to the parish church of St. Mary the Virgin from 1944 until their passing. The scene was chosen to commemorate the lives of Canon Robert and Mary Cowan who loved nature in all its forms, but particularly the large trees which brought shade to this area of the city. Bob walked the river valley area daily, for over 40 years. The deer, peregrine falcon and cottontail rabbits are other reminders of the natural world. The rabbits also represent the Cowan’s love for children, particularly their own two sons. The wild rose, a symbol of the Virgin Mary, encircles Mary Cowan’s family crest, the Bradbrooke coat of arms. The lily growing from the riverbank is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary as well as a reminder of Christ’s resurrection and promise of eternal life. The Chalice and Paten found in the uppermost part of the window celebrate Robert’s ministry as a deacon and priest of the Anglican Church of Canada for over 50 years.

~ Know Your Church Project, May 2022



Large Banner ~ Matthew 28:1-7 The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead
At the tomb where Jesus had been laid following His death, an angel indicates the now empty tomb and says, “Do not be afraid … He is not here. He has risen, just as He said.”
Banner 1 ~ John 20:11-16 ~ Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb
Location = North Front
Early in the morning while it is still dark, Mary lingers, weeping outside the empty tomb. She does not recognize Jesus until he gently speaks her name and then she knows Him.
Banner 2 ~ Luke 24:13-31 ~ On the road to Emmaus
Location = North Centre    
Cleopas and another disciple were journeying from Jerusalem to Emmaus discussing the crucifixion of Jesus.  As they talked, Jesus Himself came up and walked with them but they were kept from recognizing Him.  The wounds on his hands and feet are visible to the disciples as they are in all His post resurrection appearances.
Banner 3 ~ John 20:19-23 ~ The Upper Room
Location = North Rear 
Jesus enters the upper room where 10 disciples are meeting behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Thomas is not with them. With the words “Peace be with you,” Jesus shows them the wounds in His hands and feet and in His side.
Banner 4 ~ John 20:26-29 ~ The Upper Room
Location = South Rear      
A week later Jesus again comes to the upper room. This time Thomas is present with the other disciples.  Jesus shows him the wounds in His hands, feet and side with the words, “Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas believes and worships with the words “My Lord and my God!”
Banner 5 ~ John 21:1-14 ~ Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish
Location = South Centre                    
Simon Peter and some other disciples fished unsuccessfully all night. Jesus stands on the shore but they don’t recognise Him; however when He tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat, they do so and are unable to pull the net in for the weight of the fish in it. John says to Simon Peter, “It is the Lord.”
Banner 6 ~ Luke 24:50-53 ~ Jesus Ascends into Heaven
Location = South Front     
Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed the disciples. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.
~ Know Your Church Project, April 2022



Some of you may be wondering why Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday. ‘Maundy’ is derived from the Latin ‘mandatum’ which means basically “commandment.”

Because Thursday night of Holy Week corresponds to the Last Supper, it includes Jesus saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” This is the night of that New Commandment, in other words, it is New Commandment Thursday.

Maundy Thursday services traditionally include a focus on the Last Supper, not only as the beginning of the Triduum (the Great Three Days), but also as the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Communion. In many places, a foot washing service is included, and the service often ends with the Stripping of the Altar.

The Stripping of the Altar did not grow out of a liturgical decision made from “on high”.  Instead, this tradition developed simply because the altar guilds needed to strip the altar after Maundy Thursday in preparation for the bare, stark altar on Good Friday. People stayed after worship to observe this, and it was soon experienced as a powerful spiritual moment.

Today, the stripping of the altar is often an integral part of Maundy Thursday.

Traditionally, there would be no Eucharist on Good Friday. But in some places, the sacrament is reserved from Maundy Thursday to be administered on Good Friday.

Either way, Maundy Thursday ends with the starkness of the empty, bare altar. Our souls are bare as well, as we begin to walk through the rest of the weekend. During the Stripping of the Altar, we sit in silence and we depart in silence. This is not intended to be sad or depressing. It is contemplative, reflective, and reverent.

Maundy Thursday doesn’t end on Maundy Thursday

This New Commandment and the Holy Meal are instituted this night, not completed. Jesus was shaping his disciples around servanthood and fellowship. Serving one another, serving the least and the outcast, and seeing ourselves not as masters but as those who serve. And this servanthood is grounded on holy fellowship, with God and man at the table.

Maundy Thursday was only the beginning! We are called to be Maundy Christians every day.

Information is from The Anglican Compass:

~ Know Your Church Project, April 2022



Everywhere you look in St. Augustine’s there are crosses, the primary symbol of our faith. Look up, down, left or right you’ll see a cross… on the pews where you’re sitting or on the lamps overhead, and of course the large, beautiful cross above the High Altar. But there might be a few crosses you haven’t noticed before!


This beautiful Celtic cross standing in front of altar in St. Monica’s chapel was a gift to the church from a thankful bridegroom married at St. Augustine’s in 2008. He made three of these metal crosses, adorned with traditional Celtic knots (a symbol of eternity) and a halo (symbol of holiness).


Look up as you are leaving the church and you will see this “Christus Victor” cross hung just under the archway. This cross, which came to us from St. Mary’s, oversees all processions into and out of the church. With a fully robed and resurrected Christ, it is a reminder to us as we leave the church and go out into the world that Christ is alive and has won the victory over death!


You’ll see a crucifix over the pulpit in Anglican churches all over the world, a reminder to whoever takes the pulpit to preach that, as St. Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified” – proclaiming what God has done through the cross.


If this cross is new to you, it should come as no surprise, as it is always covered by the lovely linens on the High Altar.  This Canterbury Cross is etched into a piece of stone from Canterbury Cathedral and embedded in the top of the High Altar. It is a beautiful reminder of that we are part of the Anglican church throughout the world.


And what is the biggest cross of all in St. Augustine’s? The shape of the building itself! Like many traditional Christian churches, St. Augustine’s is in the shape of a stylized cross. The aisle up the centre of the nave is the base of the cross, with “arms” extended to the right and left where the choir and ministers sit, and the “head” of the cross at the High Altar. Our church also follows another ancient tradition in facing east: a symbol of looking to Jerusalem and to the rising sun, a symbol of looking towards a new heaven and a new earth.




~ Know Your Church Project, April 2022




Liturgical and special occasion banners enhance scripture readings, psalms, sermons, and hymns. They are not simply decorative art, but carry a message, the visual word, calling us to remember, the year, God in Christ has done and is doing for us.
Having made over 100 banners in the past 50 years, I considered myself retired. When I first learned, from Harriet, that the Sanctuary Guild needed a white banner, I confess that I was very “dense” and did not rise to the occasion. A few days later, Carol said she had been approached, but chose to decline due to other commitments. And there it was left—someone would do it! Or so I thought.
One night, having prayed and thanked God for the blessings of that day, I waited for sleep to claim me.  Instead, into my mind drifted a clear picture of a completed banner depicting the 7 Holy Sacraments: a white background, gold cross with white dove, surrounded by circles containing a design for each Sacrament. The next morning it dawned on me that perhaps God was telling me something, “Come on Muriel, just one more banner. I’ve given you the design, all you have to do is make it.”
Have you turned a deaf ear to God? Well, I have and I’ve always regretted it. So out of retirement I came with shaky hands, dimming eyes and got started.  When I ran into difficulties, who did I call but Carol, of course, the other reluctant banner maker. This was the first time I had worked on a banner with someone else and what a blessing it was to me to have her clear thinking, suggestions and sewing expertise for the journey — not to forget the fun as everyone who knows her can attest.  The banner travelled back and forth between us several times and slowly took form as close to God’s design as we could make it.
~ Muriel McCuaig, March 2022
I have always appreciated the artistry and divine work Muriel has shared with St. Augustine’s in creating many banners to celebrate and teach about our faith. When she asked for help with this banner, I immediately volunteered, especially since she had done the more challenging artistic/visioning portion and just needed help with sewing. As the banner passed between us over the fall and winter, Muriel and I shared a lovely journey of creativity and friendship. I was honoured to work with Muriel and learn more about the process of banner making and to spend time with a beautiful Christian servant.
~ Carol Young
Central on the banner is the cross and descending dove of the Holy Spirit, involved in all Sacraments.  Above the arms of the cross are Baptism and Communion; the 2 greatest Sacraments ordained by Christ as necessary to salvation until He comes again. The font contains the water for baptism and the shell on the ewer is the symbol of pilgrimage. To show Holy Communion, the chalice, for wine, symbolizes the blood of Christ and the host wafer symbolizes the body of Christ.
Below the arms of the cross are the 5 lesser sacraments instituted by the Church centuries ago. Confirmation is shown by the bishop in red, to symbolize the flames of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. Matrimony is shown by the conjoined wedding rings superimposed on the “CHI ROI,” the first 2 letters of “Christ” in Greek. You see a penitent praying for forgiveness, between the 2 branches of hyssop, from Psalm 51: 7a, “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean.” Note that hyssop has white flowers, but we took artistic liberty and opted for purple, a link to the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. Holy Orders is represented by the red stole, the badge of priesthood; the bible is the liturgy of the word; and the chalice, represents Holy Communion. Unction is the anointing of sick, or those approaching death, with Holy Oil.
This banner shows how God cares and provides for us throughout our lives with the seven Holy Sacraments.   
~ Know Your Church Project, March 2022



Mary the Virgin ~ Mother of Our Lord, Annunciation 25 March

As the mother of Jesus Christ, it is hardly surprising that many churches have chosen her as their patron saint. She needs little introduction, but the words of the Angel Gabriel have cemented her place in church history:

“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”  Luke 1:28


St. Monica 331-387 ~ Patron Saint of mothers/wives/abuse victims/wayward children, Feast Day 27 August

In addition to being the mother of St. Augustine, St. Monica is a power in her own right. She is known for her perseverance and prayful life which was dedicated to the conversion of her son, Augustine.

St. Monica was probably a Berber who endured life with an abusive mother-in-law and a philandering husband. She is credited with guiding them both to conversion, but Augustine proved to be particularly intractable and was even expelled from his mother’s table because of his views and lifestyle. Monica is said to have experienced a vision which convinced her to reconcile with her very wayward son. She followed him to Rome and Milan and steadfastly prayed for him for 17 years before Augustine converted to Christianity. As she neared death St. Augustine revealed that she said:

“Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in the world being now fulfilled”. She died nine days later.

St. Augustine, who credited her with his conversion, wrote of his mother:

...she had not died in misery, and death was not her end. Of the one fact we were certain by reason of her character, of the other by our Faith.” (Confessions 9.12.1)


St. Cyprian 200-258 ~ Bishop of Carthage, a Berber/Roman

He was an early Christian theologian who was important in the development of Christian thought and practice, especially in Northern African. He lived against the backdrop of a Roman Empire in decay. Little is known of his precise date of birth and early life except that he was born of wealthy pagan parents. He practiced law until he converted to Christianity about 246.

Conversion freed him from what he believed was the sinful and useless life that he led. He concluded that the only refuge was the temperate, studious and prayerful life of a Christian. Within 2 years he was elected Bishop of Carthage, an honor which he reluctantly accepted.

Forced to go into hiding in 250 when confronted by Roman Emperor Decius’ persecution of Christians who were punished and tortured until they recanted. Cyprian found himself embroiled in a bitter internal struggle over the readmittance to the sacraments of church members who had lapsed in the face of persecution.

His stance on Baptism and Penance also incurred the wrath of Pope Stephen who even threatened to excommunicate him. The schism split the Church in Carthage and Cyprian’s centrist position increased his influence. His dedication during the Great Plague and famine further increased his popular support.

At the end of 256 a new round of persecution began under Emperor Valerian. Cyprian was brought before the Roman Proconsul in August 257 where he refused to conform to “Roman rites” and continued to proclaim the glory of Christ.  He was imprisoned on 15 September 258 and executed the following day in an open space where a vast multitude followed him on his last journey. Cyprian removed his garments and blindfolded himself without assistance, knelt, prayed, and was beheaded by sword.

His martyrdom was followed by the martyrdom of 8 of his disciples in Carthage.

~ Know Your Church Project, March 2022



by The Rev. Canon James Robinson

On March 25, 1886, Bishop Cyprian Pinkham consecrated the first Anglican parish church in the newly named community of Lethbridge.Following an ancient practice of the Church, this new parish was dedicated in prayer and liturgy to the glory of God and was given the name of the Saints of the Church – “St. Augustin.” In last week’s “Know Your Church Project” message, we were told that from 1886 until the amalgamation with St. Cyprian’s in 1919, the parish’s name was spelled “Augustin”. Following the merger, the parish changed the spelling to “St. Augustine.”

In addition to the spelling, people often ask about the pronunciation. Should it be “St. Augustine or “St. Augustine”? Both are correct.Augustine is the usual American pronunciation and Augustine is the usual British manner. Since we are Anglicans, it isn’t surprising that in our parish, we usually say Augustine. Perhaps “St. Auggies” is less confusing and the most fun!

Beyond the questions of spelling and pronunciation is the question of identity:which St. Augustine are we named for? The records of the consecration of the parish in 1886 give us the name but do not tell us whether we are named after St. Augustine of Canterbury or St. Augustine of Hippo! There are numerous parish churches whose patron saint is St. Augustine. Most of them are named for St. Augustine of Canterbury, the 6th and 7th century missionary bishop who was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. There is, however, another Augustine, who has many parishes around the world named for him and who arguably has had the greatest impact on the Christian Church of any saint not found in the New Testament. This Augustine is the great North African Bishop, scholar and saint, Augustine of Hippo (AD354-430).

There is good evidence that from the beginning, St. Augustine’s, Lethbridge, was known to be named after the Bishop of Hippo. This includes the establishment in 1919 of St. Augustine’s “daughter church” on the southside which was named after St. Cyprian (d.258), who was another African bishop and whose episcopal see was in Carthage, very near St. Augustine’s Diocese of Hippo. When the new church was built in the 1950’s, the chapel was named after St. Monica (d. 387), who was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo.

Augustine served as bishop during a time of tremendous upheaval. This period is often called the “twilight of the Roman Empire” and Augustine, who was very much a Roman, lived to see the sack of Rome by the Goths and experienced the brutal attack on North Africa by the Vandals - including the destruction and scattering of his beloved Diocese of Hippo. During that time, he provided Godly, courageous and compassionate leadership to the flock he served.

Throughout those years, his literary output was astonishing: approximately 500 sermons, 240 letters and 100 books have survived. His books include volumes of theology and biblical commentaries. Also, among his works are two of the most well-known and influential books ever written: The Confessions (famous as the first autobiography) and The City of God (Augustine’s profound spiritual response to the first sack of Rome on August 24th, AD410). The importance and influence of Augustine’s writings are impossible to overstate. His works helped guide and shape the new civilization which arose out of the ashes of the classical world.That new civilization was Medieval Christendom. In the words of E.M. Blaiklock: “St. Augustine’s work did not perish. It shaped Gregory, Charlemagne and Aquinas, gusting more widely to touch Calvin, Luther, Pascal…” And the influence of this great Saint continues to enlighten and inspire humanity right up to this present day. We are blessed to belong to a parish which bears the name of a profoundly faithful and brilliant follower of Jesus Christ, St. Augustine of Hippo.

~ Know Your Church Project, March 16, 2022



Three Churches Become One

In the latter part of 1885 there were only three Anglican clergymen in Southern Alberta namely; The Rev. H. T. Bourne and The Rev. Mr. Trivett who were missionaries on the Blood Reserve and The Rev. Ronald Hilton who was in charge of Fort Macleod. This district was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Saskatchewan which was based in Prince Albert and led by Bishop Maclean who instructed The Rev. Bourne to arrange for Church services in Lethbridge. The town at the time comprised 200 homes with a population of 800.

The first definitive steps towards forming a parish were taken in March 1886 and a cottage was rented to hold services. On 6th October 1886 the first sod was turned for a Church dedicated to St. Augustin (no ‘e’). The brick building, 40 feet by 25 feet, was located on 2nd Avenue and 8th Street South.

On March 25th, 1886, St. Augustin’s was dedicated by Bishop (William) Cyprian Pinkham, the newly consecrated Bishop of Saskatchewan, who had been mandated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to form the Provisional District of Alberta into a separate diocese. Bishop Pinkham presided over the creation of the Alberta Dioceses of Athabasca, Edmonton and Calgary. He would eventually become the first Bishop of Calgary.

St. Mary the Virgin 1906-2003 In 1906, the Mission known as St. Mary’s was started in North Lethbridge assisted by members of the St Augustin congregation. A small building was erected near the corner of 13th Street and 9th Avenue North and a Missioner (outreach missionary) was provided. In 1908, the members of this Mission applied to become a separate parish. St. Cyprian’s 1910-1928 On December 12, 1909, Bishop Pinkham suggested the planting of a new parish and in 1910 St Cyprian’s was opened as another off shoot of the Mother Church. That part of the city lying to the south of 6th Avenue South was the responsibility of St. Cyprian’s. The sum of $2,000 was also given towards construction of a building at 11th Street and 8th Avenue South. The first service was held in St Cyprian’s on 27 February 1910. By the following year, the Rector, The Rev. Murrell-Wright, was able to report that the Anglican Church in Southern Alberta had grown from one to three churches with three priests.

Amalgamation with St. Cyprian’s 1928

The First World War Years were difficult financial times for the churches and in 1919 the Mother Church and St. Cyprian’s amalgamated under the original name of St. Augustine’s (adding the ‘e’). Combined services were held in the former St. Cyprian’s building. The old St. Augustin’s building, located on 2nd Avenue and 8th Street, was closed. Rector Cecil Swanson appointed one warden from each parish and he also made sure the Vestry was equally representative of both congregations. In 1928 the building housing the two congregations was moved to its present location at 11th Street and 4th Avenue. The brick structure was veneered and the rectory built. The first service in the refurbished building was held on 16th September 1928. Church services were initially held in what is now the Parish Hall.

Canon Leslie L. Grant - The building of the new Parish Church of St. Augustine’s

The most notable event of Grant’s tenure was the building and consecration of the new Parish Church on 10 April 1960. During his incumbency, the Altar, the Bishop’s Chair, the Credence Table and the Servers’ Pew were acquired. The Altar was the one used in the Parish Hall.

Amalgamation with St. Mary the Virgin in August 2003

After several meetings with a ‘church growth’ consultant appointed by the Diocese, members of St Mary’s, after much prayer and discussions with the people of St. Augustine’s, concluded that the Anglican community in North Lethbridge would be better served by one church rather than two smaller ones. Formal discussions between the two parishes led to a decision to close St Mary’s on 15 August 2003 which was the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. A “New Beginnings Committee” was established to oversee the smooth transition of personnel and assets. The following Sunday, a “Welcoming Liturgy” was held at St. Augustine’s. Lay readers and communion ministers from St. Mary’s led much of the service. A young parishioner who had recessed St. Mary’s banner out of the church at their closing service, processed the same banner into St. Augustine’s where it hangs proudly in St. Monica’s Chapel.

~ Know Your Church Project with input from Canon James Robinson and Sylvia Besplug, March 2022



Muriel McCuaig has creatively and lovingly made one large and six small banners for each season of the church year. Muriel’s banner making has been a personal journey in her walk with Christ.

The large purple Lenten banner (by the lectern) depicts Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha. Note the black rocks of Golgotha and Jerusalem behind the city walls in the background. The chalice in the left-hand corner, the wheat in the lower right corner and the grapes across the bottom signify the bread and wine.

You can begin the sequential story of the banners with the one nearest the altar in St. Monica’s chapel.

Banner 1:  Palm Sunday. Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. The crowd is waving palm fronds shouting “Hosanna”

Banner 2:  The Last Supper. Jesus is breaking the bread to celebrate the Eucharist with his twelve disciples. Not the chalice and plate on the table.

Banner 3:  Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. Peter says “No, you should never wash my feet…” (John 13:1-17)

Banner 4:  Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest.

Banner 5:  Jesus is crucified.

Banner 6:  The Tomb. Joseph of Arimathea is walking away from the tomb. Note the beautiful sunset!

~ Know Your Church Project, March 6, 2022



Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. It is a time of 40 days fasting and prayer leading us to easter; the most important season of the church year when we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The color of the church season is purple and you will see the clergy, altar frontal, and pulpit dressed in purple to remind us that it is a time of reflection and repentance.  Beginning the first Sunday in lent You will also experience the use of the Tenebrae wreath. “Tenebrae” means “darkness” and the six lighted candles will be consecutively extinguished over the six Sundays of lent until we reach Maundy Thursday service. This service, sometimes called “Tenebrae,” ends with all of the lights in the church being extinguished to represent the death of Jesus, the Light of The World.

The use of colors and the lighted wreaths were developed by the mediaeval church to remind the congregations, most of whom could neither read nor write, and who did not have access to calendars, of the seasons, their meanings and the timing of the approaching festivals. The symbols are a visual link with the multitude of faithful Christians who have worshipped in a similar way for nearly two millennia.

~ Know Your Church Project, March 2, 2022