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Friday, October 23, 2015

All Saint's Day: What Exactly Is a Saint?

November 1st is All Saint’s Day in the Roman Catholic Church ( probably put at that place on the calendar to counter the pagan festival of Samhain). The RC Church has quite a list of criteria in order for someone to become canonized as a saint but really what is a Saint? According to the Bible, specifically the New Testament, a saint is simply a believer in Jesus.  We tend to think of a saint as someone who has a halo above their head and is as pure as the driven snow; however,  that’s not what the Bible describes.

The Greek word hagios is where we get “saint” from – it means Holy, separated unto God. The early Greeks used it of something separated unto the gods but the Christian term signifies something that is separated unto God not by man but by God Himself. Someone who is not holy in and of himself but made holy by God through faith in Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection. In the Bible it refers to both believers who have gone before us and those who are now with us on earth. The Bible also uses hagios to refer to Jesus Christ as the "Holy One" or "Saint" of God (Mark 1:24 , Acts 3:14, 1 John etc..).  

Easton’s Bible Dictionary tells us that “It was not used as a distinctive title of the apostles and evangelists and of a "spiritual nobility" till the fourth century. In that sense it is not a scriptural title.”

Vine further says “This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men ; yet believers are called to sanctify themselves …consistently with their calling.”

They are not a saint because they are holy; they are holy because they are a saint – and they are only a saint because they believed in Jesus and trusted Him to forgive their sins.

Methodist, John Wesley did not agree that saints of any kind should be venerated or prayed to but he did agree that there is much for us to learn from the saints ( all believers) who have gone before us. After all that's what Hebrews 11 is all about. Reading the biographies of believers who have gone before us can be very edifying, encouraging and challenging. 

So if I am to honour this holiday at all then it will be to be thankful that God, through Jesus, has made me, ever the sinner,  into a saint – not by my works but by His grace. I can also glorify God by thanking Him for the many godly examples of past believers and current mentors, friends, brothers and sisters whom I can call saints and who have blessed my life and my Christian faith. 

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” Ephesians 2:19

You may also be interested in:

A Bio Sketch of Hilda of Whitby 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Bible (Short Bio) 

A Bio-Sketch of Maurice of Thebes: The Legionnaire Who Died for Christ 

5 Historical Facts about St. Nicholas of Myra ( The Origins of of Santa Claus)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

4 Fascinating Facts About the BX Area (Vernon, BC)

#1 The Land

According to local real estate websites, “The BX area is divided into North and South for real estate marketing purposes, but the area effectively skirts along the eastern boundary of the City of Vernon.  The North BX is a large rural neighbourhood to the north and east of the City of Vernon… with its northern boundary being the Swan Lake intersection. The quieter, country atmosphere makes this a favourite neighbourhood while the City and Silver Star Mountain are merely minutes away”. The South BX border is Highway 6 and together they contain much of the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Greater Vernon Area.

My daughter and I at BX Falls

The BX is also known as Electoral Area C in the Regional District of the North Okanagan and there is a BX-Swan Lake Community Association that includes residents of both the BX and Swan Lake areas. Other things bearing this name in the area are BX Creek, BX Falls, BX Road, BX Elementary, the BX-Swan Lake Fire Department and the BX Ranch Park. The BX Press Cidery is a local business that operates in the area and they too have a great write up of some local history here . 

#2 Francis Barnard

So why is it called the “BX”? The history behind the name begins with Frances Jones Barnard (aka Frank Barnard Sr.), born in Quebec City in 1829 who came from a Loyalist background. In 1858 Barnard headed for the Fraser River gold fields of B.C., travelling via New York and the Panama Railway in Central America.  In Yale, B.C., he mined for gold, split cordwood and even became a constable. Many of his shipmates died on the trip from New York to Panama and he almost died again when a ship’s boiler exploded killing five crew members and throwing Barnard clear from the dining saloon.

Francis Jones Barnard

Barnard had a large impact on the town of Vernon and the Okanagan in general. He, along with other prominent historical men, began an enterprise to build the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway – a spur line branching off the great Transcontinental Railway at Sicamous and travelling to Okanagan Landing. The   S & O Railway effectively opened up the entire Okanagan Valley to the rest of the world. Barnard Avenue was named in his honour and is today Vernon’s main street ( 30th Avenue) travelling through the heart of downtown Vernon.

#3 The Barnard Express – “The BX” 

In 1861, Barnard acquired a carrier service which he would eventually turn into the Barnard Express  - the BX.  Later it would be named the B.C. Express and would deliver her Majesty’s mail from Victoria all the way to Barkerville in the Caribou Interior (near Prince George).  He also established a stage coach passenger service and, by 1864,  “…Barnard’s stagecoaches travelled some 110,000 miles, carried all the mail to the interior, transported 1,500 passengers to and from Soda Creek at the one-way fare of $130, and conveyed $4,619,000 worth of gold from the Cariboo to Yale. He employed 38 men, owned 400 horses “.  A restored BX stage coach can be seen at the O’Keefe Ranch.

(Barnard’s Express At Yale. Provincial Archives)

His “BX” stagecoach line at one point delivered mail as far as Wrangel, Alaska and was at one time said to be the longest stage coach line in North America. Frances Barnard effectively kept out the American express lines such as Wells, Fargo and Company from taking hold in Canadian territory and his BX Ranch and Express are a major part of the history of our province.  For this and more, he is considered one of the Fathers of British Columbia.

#4 The BX Ranch 

It was in 1860, though, that Barnard began ranching about 5 miles east of present day Vernon. In 1868 he sent his foreman, Steve Tingley to California and New Mexico to purchase 400 of the finest horses for breeding purposes for his coach line and drive them home to the BX Ranch near Vernon.  By the 1880’s, his son, Frank, had expanded the ranch to about 2,000 head of horses and about 7,000 acres of land. The Greater Vernon Museum records:  “These horses became the breeding stock from which Barnard drew the horses needed on the stagecoaches and freight wagons. The run from Cache Creek to Priest's Valley (Vernon) and Okanagan Mission operated until the completion of the Okanagan branch of the CPR in 1892.”

BX Ranch at Vernon, BC 1898 ( BC Archives #D-02455)
The original ranch house and barn burned down in 1911 but part of the property can still be seen around the the BX Ranch Park. Francis Barnard has indeed left behind a rich heritage for the BX area which residents today enjoy and continue to carry on.

"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness..." Isaiah 43:19

Sources & Further Reading:
Greater Vernon Musuem:;rad
Margaret Ormsby:;rad
The BX Press website:
Vernon Real Estate website: