You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone living in Greater Trail who hasn’t been helped - or helped with - humanitarian causes carried out by the Trail Salvation Army Church.
Whether it’s buying from or donating to the Thrift Shop, dropping money into a Christmas kettle or, on the other side of the coin, requesting what the church offers as a “hand up” such as a food hamper or a free hot meal.
What locals may not be aware of, is that the Trail Salvation Army Church has been part of the city’s social fabric for a century now.
And this weekend, the church is celebrating 100 years of service in Trail and the surrounding areas.
“Our mission it to give hope, to give you hope today,” Major Ginny Kristensen began. “I think that’s just part of why we have become an integral part of the community. For me, that is obvious at Christmas and at all the food drives through the year, it’s the way the community supports us,” she added.
“Because we are seen as part of the community, we are not just a church on the outside, we are right there.”
Major Kristensen invites the community to the weekend celebrations, starting with an open house at the Salvation Army Church on Friday from 6:30-9 p.m.
“This is such a helping community,” she said. “We would like to be able to say thank you, and we would love to have people join us to see our history, have coffee and goodies, relax, and connect.”
The Salvation Army Band will be in town from the Okanagan, to join visiting dignitaries and local members on Saturday from 1:30-4 p.m. in a March of Witness down Bay Avenue, followed by an Open Air Service on the Esplanade.
That night, visiting members will join the local congregation in a dinner at the Trail Legion. On Sunday, a special service will be held in the Trail Legion at 10:30 a.m.
“Again, our special guests will be there and everyone in the community is welcome to come and join us,” said Kristensen.
Looking back 100 years, the first mention of salvationists arriving in town was in the Trail Creek News dated Oct. 11, 1918.
It was an advertisement for “Salvation Army Tag Day - for Rest Huts” on Oct. 22. In the same edition under the title “In and Around Trail” the paper noted “Next Monday Ensign Cox will entertain the Sunday School scholars of the Salvation Army at Thanksgiving dinner at her home at 6 p.m.”
Then on Oct. 18, the writer noted, “Rest Hut Tag Day - What Salvation Army does with the Money.”
According to the paper, the money would be used for the establishment, under the Canadian flag, of more huts in England and France; a Canadian soldiers’ hostel in London, England; homes in the old land for convalescent Canadian soldiers; comforts for men in hospital; homes in Canada for children of soldiers who, whether by reason of being orphaned or otherwise, need guardianship; the immediate dispatch of a party of officers to Siberia with the means necessary to cooperate with the military authorities in anyway possible; and the immediate sending of officers (men and women) to England and France to staff the huts, hostels, and convalescent homes that are to be established as well as reinforce those at places where work is already in operation.
One hundred years ago, like today, it seems the Trail community stepped up to the plate.
On Oct. 25, the Page 1 headline read, “For Salvation Army Hut, $250.00”
“The Salvation Army Hut Tag Day last Tuesday was a great success, the sum of $250 being realized, as reported by Ensign Lizzie Cox. Both the Ensign and Lieutenant Howden wish to thank the young ladies and all those who assisted in making it so successful.”
Fast forward to last week, the Trail Times chatted with two of Trail’s longest serving church members, Edna Bancescu and Lois Pazurik.
“My goodness, $250, ” Edna exclaimed. “That’s like a million dollars for us now.”
After the 100th anniversary weekend, Edna will be recognized for 60 years of service. Lois, an active member for 40+ years, has received accolades for her musicality, she was the church’s accompanist for decades, as well as its long-time Sunday school teacher.
Edna recalled joining the church after Salvation Army officers travelled out to Fruitvale - which was a road trip back in the 1950s - knocked on her front door and offered to bus the children to Sunday school in Trail.
“I believed Sunday school was necessary for children, and they weren’t going anywhere at the time,” Edna said. “They were young and riding on the bus all the way from Fruitvale to Trail was a treat, that’s how it started. I wanted to know what my children were doing and support them, so I joined.”
Edna has many fond memories of church life, but one person - Major Samuel Fame - is particularly close to her heart.
“You see, for a long time, I used to bring a fellow from Fruitvale to Sunday school and to church with us,” she shared. “Sam was just a teenager when I started bringing him. He went on to training college in Toronto and became a minister.”
Major Fame is retired now and lives in Vancouver.
“But he’s still very active, ” Edna added. “And he’s coming to Trail for the 100th anniversary.”
For years Edna made regular visits to senior homes and hospitals doing ministries and gifting what she calls “sunshine bags.”
“The one thing I always heard from the old vets,” she reminisced. “Was how much they appreciated the Salvation Army on the front lines serving free hot coffee and giving out free warm socks. They would always say how much that meant to them, they never forgot that kindness.”
Lois joined the church in the early 1970s when she moved to Trail and met Mrs. Van Tassel, her husband’s grandmother who was an old time salvationist.
“She was such a neat lady,” Lois shared. “And that’s where she went forever in a day, so I started going with her.”
With 100 years of service between the two and 100th anniversary celebrations ready to launch on Friday , the Times asked the two women what kept them so dedicated to the church and its causes all these years.
“The fellowship in the corp has always been wonderful,” said Edna while Lois nodded in agreement. “It’s a family, we are like a family and that is what we need - people who care and people to care for.”