OLDS — Rev. Tammy Allan is leaving as the minister for Olds United Church as well as churches in Didsbury and Sundre.
She held her last services in Olds and Sundre this past Sunday, while her last service in Didsbury was held the week before.
Allan has served in Olds for 9.5 years, Sundre on Sunday afternoons for about eight years, and Didsbury since last fall.
But she isn’t going very far.
She’s going up the road to Innisfail, where she’ll just have to look after one church, the United Church there.
However, Allan said she’s not moving to that community – just relocating to a different place of work and ministry.
At the Innisfail United Church, Allan will replace Rev. Darren Liepold, who is moving to a senior post in eastern Ontario to provide support to about 100 ministers in a vast area. He starts his new job on July 1.
Allan will provide her first service in Innisfail United on the first Sunday of July.
Between now and then, she’s winding up things in her office.
Her change of job also coincides with a pending change at Olds United.
The congregation is looking at downsizing – renovating the eastern side of the church to double as a sanctuary and meeting hall.
Discussions are underway with consultants and contractors as to what would happen to the remainder of the building and property, although Allan said there’s been talk of turning it into housing.
“The timing was right for folks here to go in some new directions and for me to go in a new direction, so it’s kind of become the right time,” Allan said during an interview.
After Allan is gone, Kelly Grittner, a minister from Calgary, will serve the congregation in a transitional capacity for one year.
“He will be working with Olds and Knox United in Didsbury and he will be doing two services each Sunday morning,” Allan said.
She said because it’s only for a one-year transitional period, Grittner will commute from Calgary.
She added congregants in Sundre have decided to “kind of branch out on their own and step away from the cluster arrangement and do their own thing, without ministry personnel.”
"They’ll have occasional guest preachers, but they’re going to do a lot of the worship leadership themselves,” she said.
Allan said the Innisfail’s congregation is a bit larger than Olds’ and is "very active.”
Back in about 1960, Olds United was built for a congregation of around 350, Allan said. Over the years, that number has dwindled to about 60 before the onset of COVID, when it fell even further.
In her new job, Allan won’t have to travel from community to community.
"I’m really wondering what people do with their Sunday afternoons,” she said with a laugh. “I’m kind of looking forward to that, because it’s been eight years supporting both churches. It’s been a long time of long Sundays and so it’ll be a change.”
However, she said her job will actually be “equally busy, just in different ways,” because in Innisfail many user groups make use of church facilities.
Meanwhile, the Sundre United Church has been assigned a pastoral oversight supervisor by the United Church of Canada's Chinook Winds Region.
Stepping into that assigned role, said Joyce Wicks, a Sundre United Church leadership team director, is Rev. Janice Beaudry.
“(Beaudry) has got all the full qualifications of an ordained minister and she then can do all the necessary things (such as) weddings, baptisms, funerals, and communion,” said Wicks, adding Beaudry “will probably be doing at least once a month regular service for us.”