It began in England
The Gateway Centre Ltd. in London, England is the parent organization for the Spiritualist Society and Gateway Centre in Calgary, Alberta. The Gateway's London branch was first organized in 1936 and then re-organized in 1946 by Lillian Brownfoot. After Lillian passed to spirit on February 3, 1950 the Gateway was incorporated as a charitable organization. Lillian was brought to Spiritualism through the death of her seven year old son Lawrence. For more then a year after Lawrence's death Lillian wandered aimlessly around the streets of London. Her husband, George, never knew where she was.
One night as she was standing on a bridge when an elderly lady, fearing Lillian might be contemplating suicide, came up to her and more or less 'dragged' Lillian by the arm to a spiritualist circle. After that first circle Lillian continued sitting in that weekly development circle.
She sat for two years and never saw or heard anything. Then one night she was entranced by her guide whose name was Strongheart. Lillian, who suffered from a debilitating stutter since her earliest memories, found as Strongheart's influence grew stronger her stutter began to disappear until finally it no longer existed. (An interesting note: when Strongheart first began to come through he had a very broad Scottish accent that later disappeared.)
When Lillian began working as a trance medium she was not affiliated with any church or centre. Instead she worked independently, where she was asked. For a time she worked at Edinburgh College in Scotland where Strongheart gave evidence of survival as well as reincarnation (past-life) readings. Even though sittings with Lillian and Strongheart were always very popular and overbooked the directors of the college didn't embrace the philosophy of reincarnation and asked Lillian to tell her guide not to give past-life readings. Needless to say this made for a very interesting exchange.
In 1960 Kenneth Saunders, the Gateway Centre's president, walked approximately 1,000 miles across Britain outlining the form of a cross. It was Ken's way of honouring Lillian and Strongheart's teachings and increasing awareness of the Spiritualist beliefs. He repeated his mission in 1964 by walking approximately 4,000 miles across the United States. He took little more then the clothes on his back and relied on his belief in God and Spirit to shelter him.
In 1968 Ken brought together a group of seven members of the Gateway Centre and formed a troupe that performed drama's illustrating the gospels. They began by touring throughout Britain focusing on the path outlined in Ken's walk. Later, in March 1969, they performed throughout the United States. Again following the path outlined on the walk. The group moved from the United States to Canada changing in size but not in purpose.
In 1986 the Gateway Centre was incorporated in Calgary, Alberta. In the ensuing years we have tried our best to stay true to the unwavering truths taught by the world of Spirit and all those that would give service. We pray that in some small way we have and will continue to make a difference.
Story of a Holy Man
Reverend Ken Saunders Walks Through My Town
By Jeff Forsyth in Illinois:
It was sometime in the mid 60's when he came through our small Illinois town. Word had it, far in advance, there was a Holy Man bearing a cross and wearing white robes, pulling a wagon up Route 67. It was a warm sunny Sunday afternoon and scores of adults and children were gathered at the edge of town waiting to greet this holy man.
We were probably 15 minutes early for his arrival, but since the country side was really flat we could see him coming when he was just a dot on the horizon. As he drew nearer to our welcoming committee we could hear the rocks crunching under his wagon and the distinctive sound of the little bell ringing from high on top of his heavily loaded wagon. As he walked the last few steps into our welcoming group we got a close up of a man well-worn from the summer sun, with red hair and a beard giving us all a big smile.
The towns people had come with offerings of food and drink. The banker's wife, the car dealer, the service station owner; all brought cold sodas and fresh fruit and vegetables from their gardens. The hotel owner put him up for the night. They all offered help in some way to the holy man. It was an event for our small town to have a holy man visit. Soon we had all asked enough questions to know his name was Kenneth Saunders, and he was from the United Kingdom. He was just an awsome figure to our whole group. We kids were fascinated with the huge white cross and all his possessions in the little red wagon. My cousin and I remember the big cross having many cubby holes and secret compartments with secret sliding doors where food, water, and a journal were hidden away.
(Note: The white cross was made by Frank Jones from England, who visits the Gateway often.)
We kids had lots of questions for him: Where do you sleep? What about bathroom stuff? Do dogs bother you? Where is your rain coat? Do you ever accept a ride? What about not having any money?
Ken told us a story about a dog attacking him. In his travels a big black farm dog came running and barking at him in a threatening manner. He told us he began thinking of the dog as a friend and started talking to the dog as if they were friends. The dog became a greeter, wagging his tail seemingly happy to see an old friend. He answered our other questions speaking about sleeping and other everyday needs. He told us his faith, area parks, and public services with facilities were always there for him. The kindness and good will of people in general were his greatest blessings.
He was amused with our questions and enjoyed his dialog with us kids. He mentioned that he was going to write a book about his journeys and would mention our questions in his memoir. One little girl in our group had made a dearly humorous comment and I remember him writing it in his journal.
We all proceeded, kids and adults, to escort Reverend Saunders to mid-town where he went on to have supper at Pinkies Dan Dee and later to the Biola Hotel. Since my grandfather was a tenant at the hotel I was able to have priority to go to the hotel to see what was going on and what they were talking about. I was very interested to hear the conversations he had with my grandfather. I went in the back door and up the hallway to the lobby where they regularly gathered to discuss local news and the like. I could hear the conversation was already underway with Ken, my grandfather, and the other gentlemen. I didn't want to interrupt their friendly exchange so decided to just hang out in the hallway and listen. Of course the conversation was about the disciples of Jesus, their duties to the Lord, what each of the disciples was learning, and how they each represented the Lord to the world. As a young 11 year old it was an amazing experience. Until that day I had not heard my grandfather speak about bible things. Grandfather was known as a great story-teller and a fine teller of jokes. They all did a fine job that evening, sharing, respecting, teaching, and learning from each other. There was a common theme to their conversation that they all seemed to agree on. There is forgiveness for everyone and the Love of God is universal.
This is the end of Jeff's memory. His comments are as follows:
Reverend Ken Saunders was traveling, unfunded, with absolutely no monies, and was relying on his spiritual faith and the universal good will and generosity of the people to survive his walk. He walked 4000 miles across the United States and a thousand more across the United Kingdom to spread the word. In both countries he walked forming the sign of the cross of the crucifixion. For many years I searched for his writings or his books and never had success until I placed the noun Reverend in front of his name. That search took me to the Gateway Centre in Calgary, Canada.
In my search locally I came to know that Ken had stayed at a Spiritualist church in Iowa in 1964. That same church I became a member of later in life. There is no doubt Reverend Saunders made a huge impression on me. Early on, as a young adult I was searching for answers and Spiritualism became my system of belief, along with other metaphysical ideas and spiritual sciences. (It seems to me that I had/have an affinity or some kind of connection with Reverend Saunders in this life and perhaps another life.) I can imagine he had positive influences on many that he met, in his walks, and the rest of his life's journeys. Learning trust, faith in God, universal love and wisdom, and the positive in our brothers and sisters. These are some of the things he taught. Perhaps the forgiveness of all is the hardest and most important for us to understand.
This was written in honor and memory of Reverend Ken Saunders, and in recognition of his lessons, teachings, and the spiritual awareness he brought to the United States.