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VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 3   |   Release date: November 19th, 2007

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US Border Churches Change Attitudes Toward Stronger-Dollared Canadian Members

Years of ridicule end for many as loony outpaces greenback

OGDENSBURG, NY – It’s a brisk November afternoon in this small town perched near the top of New York State, and Pastor William Barth is huddled behind the desk in his modest office at Ogdensburg Presbyterian Church. All four walls are plastered with pictures of Barth’s family, Thomas Kinkade prints, and a bevy of other items that speak to his decades of service as a minister. But one 24- by 36-inch spot of bare wood paneling begs an obvious question.

“Yep, that’s where the ‘Canada: America’s Hat’ poster used to be,” says Barth with a hearty chuckle that sends jolly ripples up and down his portly frame. “The Elder Board, ahem, strongly suggested I take it down once the Canadian dollar got to be worth more than ours.”

About one-third of Barth’s average Sunday morning congregation is made up of Canadians who make the trek across the border from nearby Ontario.

“It’s kind of hard to take,” Barth says. “We’ve even got people talking seriously about putting the Canadian flag up next to ours in the sanctuary.”

Ogdensburg Presbyterian is just one of a host of US churches along the Canadian border that are having to reexamine their attitudes toward Canadian parishioners now that the Canadian dollar has become so strong against its American counterpart.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Allen Gorden, who commutes from Windsor, Ontario every Sunday to attend church at Second Baptist Church in Detroit. “You don’t know how long we’ve been hearing the cracks about mounted police and Eskimos. Every Sunday, Lance Mcconkey would sit next to me, and when the offering plate came around, he’d lean over and say, ‘Thanks for the six percent.’ Let’s just say, Lance found another place to sit a few months ago.”

But silence from erstwhile wisecracking Americans is not the only benefit being enjoyed by these longsuffering border-crossing brethren.

“I’ve been checking the currency exchange every morning on the computer for months,” said Kurt Holscher, who travels from St. Catharines, ON to Lewiston, NY each Sunday to worship at Lewiston Assembly of God. “This is the fifth year in a row I’ve been up for Deacon, and I just knew that if we could beat the greenback before the selection process started that I’d finally have my chance. Sure enough, I got the call. I’m the only Canadian I know of to hold a position like this at an American church. If the old loony keeps soaring, who knows? We could even see a Canadian pastor some day.”

Barth told The Holy Observer that his church, which has long been grudgingly tolerant of its Canadian contingent, is now even considering conducting outreach activities north of the border to bring in more Canadians.

“Well, when you’re bringing in a buck-o-five on every dollar or better, it’s kind of hard to argue,” Barth said, casting another wistful glance at the bare spot on his wall. “We sure had some good times with it when our money was worth so much, why not at least pocket a little funny-lookin' coin while they’re on top?”End of story

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