This morning we went to our local parish Church. It's just a few blocks away, a convenient walk, which was a good thing because this morning was the coldest we've had since arriving in Edmonton. I had fun along the way counting magpies.
I've seen magpies before, in the UK and in Korea, but as near as I know there aren't any in central or eastern Canada. At least, I don't recall ever seeing one before in Canada. We counted eight magpies, and one crow, on our journey. None of them seemed to realize, or care, that it was -14 degrees. We realized it, but I don't think we really much cared, either.
We arrived at Church and were warmly greeted. Being New Year's Day, the congregation was smaller than usual, and the choir and Rector were both off. But no matter. The assistant (Curate?) presided and preached an interesting sermon with references to Plato and Doctor Who. And the service and hymns were just fine. It all felt good. The interesting bit was that we were able to slip in incognito. The greeters obviously knew we were visitors, but none seemed to recognize us. That's good, because it gave us the chance to see – very possibly for the only time in the diocese, given my role as Executive Archdeacon – how newcomers were treated at our local parish. If it were a test (and I suppose it was, of a sort) the parish passed with flying colours. After the service one person came up and said he recognized us from a photo that had been in the diocesan newspaper. And both priest and organist were genuinely friendly and welcoming even before I explained who I was. But I had a sense that we were welcomed as guests rather than as someone with an important-sounding title. I feel sure that anyone else would have had a similar experience.
I look forward to getting to know the rest of the parishes in the Diocese of Edmonton. We're off to a good start. I'm sure today's positive experience will be repeated many times as we explore our new diocese, magpies and all.