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Three years turned into 11

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 18, 2012

On July 1, Rev. Ann Bush will be flying out of Fort Smith, ending 11 years of service at St. John's Anglican Church.

NNSL photo/graphic

Rev. Ann Bush has served for the past 11 years at St. John's Anglican Church in Fort Smith. - NNSL file photo

She and her husband arrived in the community in 2001 from England after she accepted a three-year contract to serve as priest at the Anglican parish.

"We knew it would be colder up here and we're not really cold people," she said with a laugh. "So we said, 'OK. We'll come and do this. We can do three years.' That was the plan."

However, she and her husband, Gordon Bush, stayed in Fort Smith much longer than planned.

"We fell in love with the people up here," she said. "From there, it was just automatic to stay on and stay on and stay on."

The 64-year-old Bush and her husband are heading to retirement on Prince Edward Island.

"We're retiring, but I'm sure that there will be something that will come along," she said, noting she may fill in for short periods at parishes and her husband - currently general manager with Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. - will hopefully find a new job in aviation. "So I'm sure we'll continue to be useful."

The couple bought a house on P.E.I. in 2003 and they have been slowly renovating it over the years.

They had planned to retire last year, but the church council asked if they could stay a year longer, and they agreed. In that time, the church found a new priest - Rev. David Lehmann of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

"So it's all worked out for the best," Bush said.

It was a very difficult decision for her to leave Fort Smith.

"It's been good to us and we've made lovely friends," she said. "I certainly got myself enmeshed in the goings-on of the community one way or another. That's going to be very hard to leave behind."

In fact, the couple even thought about staying in Fort Smith.

"We did consider very seriously selling our home over on P.E.I. and trying to find a home here, but one of the reasons we chose the East Coast was to be closer to our own family in England," Bush said, noting living there cuts the cost and distance to travel to see relatives.

Bush, who is originally from South Africa, was ordained a priest in 1992 and spent nine years as a chaplain in the prison system of England.

When looking back over the past decade-plus, she said there were a number of memorable events in Fort Smith.One was seeing her husband ordained a deacon of the Anglican Church, she said. "That was very memorable and very special for both of us."

Bush also noted she helped set up a community drug and alcohol program called the Matrix, which has now been running for four years.

A renovation and expansion of St. John's Anglican Church also occurred in her time there.

Bush's last service at the church will be on June 24.

"I hope to try and make it a special service," she said. "It will be very poignant for me."

Later that day, church members will hold a farewell party for Bush and her husband.

As she prepares to leave, Bush said her experience in Fort Smith has been better than anything she could have imagined when she and her husband first moved from England to a Northern community they knew nothing about.

"It's been absolutely amazing," she said. "We wouldn't have changed it for the world."

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