Sister ministers help their childhood church cross the bridge into the 21st century

Ella Groves and Jane Fleming were raised in a religion where the spirit world is everywhere and can be reached through clairvoyant abilities. The sisters stepped away from their religion for a little while, however, the disrepair of their Calgary childhood church brought them back to carry it into the new age.

Both sisters are ministers at the Calgary First Spiritualist Church located in West Hillhurst in a simplistic refurbished duplex.

Growing up in the church as children, they attended Sunday school. It was there they learned the seven principles and major doctrines of spiritualism.

The Calgary First Spiritualist Church located in West Hillhurst boasts blue solid oak doors and a parking lot reserved for its spiritual leaders. The signs in the parking lot read “Mediums Only.”

Photo by Nora Cruickshank“One of the major premises of spiritualism is service to others,” says Grove, which the sisters agreed has stayed with them for all their lives.

However, the two of them “stepped across the street” and strayed away from the church while attending university, as well as during their later years.

“We like to say we went to university in the fifties when god was dead. So when you take a university education you learn to look at life only through empirical evidence and science really rules at this time” says Fleming.

During that time Grove adds that she, Fleming and a few of her siblings went into fields of work where they were in service to others. Such as, social work, psychology and teaching, but that the needs of their childhood church pulled them back.

Fleming says, “We live by the principles we were taught as children — that’s more or less what called us back — the need to be of service and to help them to get bridged into the next century.”

When they came back to the church in the 1990’s Fleming described the church as being in a disturbing state after 20 years of wear.

“The front doors were weather beaten beyond belief… So Ella and her husband Tom were just experts at taking charge of details and getting volunteers to step in.”

Sisters Ella Groves (left) and Jane Fleming (right) sitting in Fleming’s cozy home in Calgary.

Photo by Nora CruickshankNow Fleming is trained as a spiritual healer and Groves is a medium, offering training in both areas at the church to those who feel they have the heightened abilities and wish to pursue them.

“Its just natural for me to teach spiritual healing now and help people who have said, ‘I’ve never done this before but I have a sense that I should be doing this,’” Fleming says with a smile.

The church will soon be celebrating its 94th anniversary and holds services every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday night.

Their services and teachings are open to public, as well as the church’s congregation. It’s a “home” to anyone who feels they need a place to feel safe with their spiritual gifts, to people who wish to pursue training in their abilities and to those, Fleming says “Who come when they are thirsty, and drink at the well until they feel comfortable with what they want to find out”

ncruickshank@cjournal.ca