Snakes and psychics: Unusual fundraisers help expand Yarmouth church's reach

Carla Allen
Published on February 17, 2016

YARMOUTH - Faced with shrinking congregations and maintenance costs associated with gigantic, century-old buildings, church owners often depend on fundraising.

A snake show in 2014 and psychic event (to be held Feb. 20) stand out from the norm at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church hall on William Street in Yarmouth.

Other fundraising events include church suppers, yard sales, bell concerts and Christmas teas.

Rev. Helen Chandler says her goal is to engage those within the parish (of Yarmouth and Tusket) with people outside the parish.

“We want to turn our liabilities – looking after these buildings – into an asset,” she said.

The parish also owns a church in Tusket. The Holy Trinity Church hall beside the church is often rented out to groups and is available for catered events.

The snake show, Rev. Chandler says, was a well-attended event and was organized by one of their parishioners, a local man who breeds the reptiles.

“It was popular. There was a good cycle of people, youth and families. It was good promotion for him as well,” she said.

The psychic medium, Shawn Leonard, approached Rev. Chandler about renting the hall for Saturday, Feb. 20.

Rev. Chandler says she only had one person express concern about the activity, saying it was “inappropriate in a church setting.”

The priest’s thoughts on this are that the event is in the hall, not the church.

“I probably wouldn’t have done something like this in the church, but it is going to help maintain the church,” she said. “I’ve spoken to many people who are open-minded and are fine with it.”

She adds that some people will find quotes in the Bible that say “thou shalt not go to a medium” but that there are many other places in the Bible where people are going to mediums and oracles.

“In terms of spirits we talk about going to the Church and although there may be only one or two people, we know that there is a whole host of people present. We talk about the host of people who have gone before and are with God. To me, this is all the same thing.”

Shawn Leonard is a Mi'kmaq “spirit talker,” psychic medium, who lives near Halifax. He says he speaks with the dead. 

During the Yarmouth event he says he will talk about a spirit talker’s journey, then read random people in the audience.

“It's a public demonstration of how spirit communicates,” Leonard says. “Helping the people who are read heal their hearts and helping people see that the spirit world is not such a far off place.”

Yarmouth's event will kick off his cross-Canada tour.

To Attend

Tickets are available through Shawn Leonard’s website. Show is from 6:30 - 9 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.) at Holy Trinity church hall, 61 William St. in Yarmouth. Tickets are $60 – pre-sold online – or $70 at the door.