In 1956 the seeds for the parish of St. Thomas, Anglican Church in the Diocese of
Edmonton were sown by Ralph and Eileen Johnson. They were one of the first settlers in the only subdivision, Sherwood Heights of the new hamlet of Sherwood Park in the County of Strathcona. They established a community Sunday School which was very successful. Along with other urban pioneer families, they developed support for the establishment of a new mission parish. Parishioners, both women and men, worked long and hard. In 1957 they brought in a Parish Hall from Mannville. In 1961, St. Thomas became self-supporting. In 1965, a new church building was completed at 4A Raven Drive. The ministerial leadership for this phase of the development of St. Thomas included Rev. Vincent Cole, the Rev. Tom Teape, the Rev. Brian Brown, the Rev. B. Mundy, and the Rev. David Crawley.

As Sherwood Park grew so did St. Thomas. Through the late sixties and seventies
and early 1980’s Sherwood Park was first and foremost a community of young families. St.
Thomas, a pastoral church was filled with young families too as witnessed by a Sunday
School attendance of between 100 to 150 children. Socially, the Couples Club and the Foyer Groups were popular. An addition to the church was built in 1979 to accommodate the children. Ministerial leadership was provided by the Rev. Robert Johnson and the Rev. Vic Cabel. St. Thomas continued to grow. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s, St. Thomas evolved into a program church. People had choice in worship style, music, adult education, outreach, community service and social programming. Families on the Parish rolls exceeded 300. St. Thomas was active in the development of the continuing Ecumenical Mission for all Christians in the County of Strathcona. St. Thomas assumed responsibility for the Colchester Cemetary.

Parishioners continued upgrading the church building, installing insulation in the ceiling, remodelling the front and side entrances, upgrading the kitchen, and in 2002 renovating the sanctuary.

The Rev Robert Osborne, the Rev. Bob Peel and the Rev. Dr. Susan Storey provided ministerial leadership.

During its first 50 years, over 1000 souls were christened, over 500 were confirmed,
and over 300 couples were married. In 2006, St. Thomas celebrated its 50 th anniversary. A history was published and a celebratory evening was held in November of that year. In the future, there will be challenges and with God’s help the parish will meet them just as they had in the first 50 years.

Gerry Parlby

Reference: Memoirs of St. Thomas Anglican Church, The First Fifty Years 2006

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