FAITHFUL NETWORK-- Christ Church Trinity in Invermere (submitted photo), one of the churches that are part of the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry, which is celebrating 50 years next weekend.

FAITHFUL NETWORK– Christ Church Trinity in Invermere (submitted photo), one of the churches that are part of the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry, which is celebrating 50 years next weekend.

What was once marvelled at as a brave new experiment is now remarked upon as a stable, faith-based partnership across the Columbia Valley. On the weekend of June 11th and 12th, the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry will celebrate 50 years of being under one roof.

The Shared Ministry had its birth in 1966 when Invermeres Trinity United Church and Christ Church Anglican were struggling to afford full-time ministers and maintain two aging buildings. It was decided that they would launch an experimental partnership that would be revisited the following year. When the Joint Council met in 1967 to review the merger, they voted to adopt a formal charter and made their partnership permanent.

After serving several of the smaller community churches from Windermere, Edgewater and Brisco throughout the years, the two Invermere congregations decided to construct one larger church Christ Church Trinity as its known today which was completed in March 1999.

Today, four official religions make up the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry Anglican, United, Lutheran and Seventh-Day Adventist Church. While the organization is strong today, Anne Jardine, a member of the Shared Ministry, said it has experienced its growing pains since the initial partnership.

Theres been pockets of grumpiness here and there but mostly people are patient and tolerant and they just work it out, she said. If theyve got differences, they talk it through and sometimes it means long meetings, but it all kind of gets eventually resolved.

If anything, the struggles have made the Shared Ministry stronger, she said.

Fifty years of experience gives a certain strength to the whole thing because you know you can solve the problems because theyve been solved before.

Under the guidance of Rev. Laura Hermakin, who arrived in the valley in March 2012, the Shared Ministry has combined the Anglican and United ceremonies to hold a weekly ceremony under one roof. Ms. Jardine said this transformation has allowed the Shared Ministry to utilize a lot of the wasted energy from the past to create a more fresh ceremony.

Starting on Saturday, June 11th, they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of this partnership, inviting all Shared Ministry past leaders as well as Primate Fred Hiltz from the Anglican Church, Moderator Jordan Cantwell from the United Church and the dignitaries from the Diocese and Presbytery regional levels to take part in the anniversarys activities.

Ms. Jardine said the ceremonies will start on Saturday with several tours including a museum tour and canoe trip starting in Fairmont in the early afternoon. They will also be going on a hike of the Juniper Trail in Radium before hosting a Songs of Peace and Freedom event at Christ Church Trinity starting at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, Christ Church Trinity will host a ceremonial service with special guests at 10:30 a.m, followed by a brunch and a tour of St. Peters Church in Windermere and All Saints Church in Edgewater. The events are listed as free for the public to attend with donations being accepted by the Shared Ministry.