For residents of Bashaw, the name “Robin King” is synonymous with community and spirit, though not necessarily in that order.
Reverend King, who has been with the Bashaw United Church for the last 12 years and involved with the Ponoka United Church for the past three years, is celebrating a decade since he was ordained.
“I came to Bashaw as a student to do an internship and stayed. I had been living in Edmonton at the time and attending St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon,” King said.
“I think the most important part about ministry is people and Bashaw and Ponoka have some amazing people. I’m very thankful for the many people in both places who do so much to create and support what we do for the community.”
And support the two communities he has.
“I’ve always thought churches should be part of the community, not just for their congregation but for everyone,” King added.
“In the last 10 years in Bashaw, we’ve become the home of Bashaw Community Theatre and the stage for the Bashaw School theatre program. We host movie nights and community dinners, we upgraded our audio visual equipment and made the church available for community programs and added the community garden.”
A handicap lift has also been added to the basement and Bashaw hosts a popular children’s program in July.
In 2017, a partnership with Ponoka called the “Rising Spirit Ministry,” that includes an online presence called “Six Ways from Sunday,” was formed.
“Especially since COVID-19, we have been looking for ways to connect with people. Rising Spirit has a website, Facebook, live stream, videos, podcast and a blog,” said King.
King also contributes a weekly column to the Bashaw Star and a column to the Ponoka News on a rotation schedule with the Ponoka Ministerial Association.
“None of this would have been possible without the support and enthusiasm of the community, and especially the folks at the church.”
Due to the partnership, King spends a couple of days each week in both communities and alternates each Sunday.
“We use the live streaming to keep the churches connected. I’m grateful to have administrative and creative support in both places and great pastoral care workers as well,” he added.
For its part, the Bashaw United Church is extremely happy to have been able to hang onto King.
“Robin came to us as a student and we worked hard to keep him here as it was unusual for the national church to allow a student intern to remain with the community they were placed at,” stated a Facebook post.
“It was worth the effort though as he has made a profound impact on our faith community. Robin is a progressive minister who has a gift of taking a message and applying it to everyday life. During this global pandemic, he seamlessly developed online supports and resources like he has always planned for it.
“We are grateful for his community work and the messages he creates to help us grow and reflect. We wish him many more years of ministry and pray that his work reaches many more seekers but that he still continues to reside with us.”
While King has helped change Bashaw for the better, his time there has also changed him.
He met his wife, Lori Miller, which led to him being a huge part of the thriving Bashaw theatrical community.
“I have a music background, so I play the piano for Bashaw Community Theatre where Lori is the director. Though she was living in Ponoka at the time, she’s from Bashaw and one of my first community involvements was with the theatre where I met her. We’ve been great partners in everything since,” said King.
King supports other local theatre groups as well as the program at Bashaw School, which Lori leads. He is also committed to assisting other community initiatives and social programming at Bashaw District Support Services and playing the piano and rotates providing services at a local seniors home.
“Bashaw’s a great community and has a real sense of community spirit,” he said.
“There’s a lot going on here, for a town this size, and there’s a very talented creative community — arts, theatre, music, handcrafts. People care for people here and really want their community to thrive.”