Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Beginnings

At SPPC we are preparing to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary in April;  the twenty-fifth anniversary of the building, that is.  The congregation is actually older than that.
     In the fall of 1981 a small group of Presbyterians on the peninsula began to hold once a month services under the auspices of St. Andrew's, Victoria.  A way to test the waters. Response was significant enough that regular weekly services began on May 9, 1982 -- Mother's Day. Early records show thirty-two charter members and two adherents.  The church school was begun in 1982 and a choir formed under the direction of George Roberts.  Fellowship coffee happened on the first Sunday of every month.
    We began as a mission church, receiving financial support from the Presbyterian Church of Canada.  We relied heavily on the support of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Victoria, and for a time, were known as St. Andrew's North.

    The congregation first met in a portable at Sidney Elementary School.  I came across an accounting for that first service and the rent for the portable was $4.50.  As the congregation grew it moved to Silver Threads, then another portable at N. Saanich Middle School, the Masonic Hall on 4th St., Sidney and finally into the former Seventh Day Adventist Church on Resthaven Drive.  The rent there was $50.00 a week.  When the Seventh Day Adventists sold their building, the congregation was back to wandering, rather like the Israelites but fortunately for less than forty years. We found temporary homes at Sands Funeral Chapel on 4th St. Sidney and Bethel Baptist on Mills Road.
  The Rev. Bruce Molloy of St. Andrew's, Victoria, was a great champion for SPPC.  He encouraged, guided, and shepherded the fledgling congregation, officiating at many services and recruiting student ministers, Keith Atcheson and Bob Wicks, to help out in the early years.  Sadly, Rev. Molloy did not live to see the dream of a physical church on the peninsula fulfilled. He passed away in 1986, but is fondly remembered by our charter members.  His contribution to the congregation is recognized in the naming of our "Molloy Hall."

     In the midst of their wandering, the congregation worked to find a site to build their own church and in 1988 purchased 9296 E. Saanich Road.  In 1987 the name was changed to Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church and in July 1987 Rev. Peter Coutts accepted a call to minister at SPPC.   By June of 1988 the congregation was able to hold it's annual picnic on the cleared construction site of our present building.  There was still a long way to go before the laying of the cornerstone, but the process had moved from hopeful vision to solid earth.  


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