Jamaicans Worship in “Homestyle” Church in Calgary, Canada

The Ogden House Seniors, a building in southeast Calgary, Canada, the Ogden House Seniors building is generally used as a place for some 60 individuals gather for various physical fitness and social activities. However, on Sunday mornings, these activities are suspended as the hall is taken over for “homestyle” Jamaican worship services. The hall is home to the Southeast Hope of Assembly, which was organized by Aaron Russell, 55, an area businessman and native of Clarendon. Russell previously worked as a dancehall promoter and deejay, using a sound system he designed, and traveling across Canada. Now, Pastor Russell, who moved to Canada in 1980, offers the non-denominational church services as part of what he calls “a long journey back to the fold.” He is following in the footsteps of his mother who was a minister. Although he grew up in the church, his career as a dancehall promoter and deejay took him away from his religious roots. A lack of financial success plus a warning from his mother ultimately prompted Russell to combine his musical interests and his faith at 11 am every Sunday morning, when a chorus of Jamaican voices can be heard “pummeling heaven.” The Ogden House Seniors is now a place where Jamaicans worship.


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Stephanie Korney