Monday, April 27, 2015

We knew you when . . .

     We bid adieu to one of the saints in our congregation this week.  It was a joyful service, for our sister knew she was going home.  In fact, she wrote the service herself, and left strict instructions with those partaking not to go on too long "and bore all those lovely people."
    I wasn't bored as I listened to stories of a life well-lived.  My greatest regret is that I had to wait for the funeral before I learned the story of a life.  I knew, for instance, that she had worked as a missionary for many years in South and Latin America.  But I didn't know she took up painting in her retirement. 

Her pictures didn't surprise me though, for they were the autograph of someone with the biggest smile in the world and the light of God pouring through her.  
    I knew her through Bible Study and enjoyed her thoughtful questions and insights into the scriptures we read.  Of course I wasn't surprised when I saw her Bible, open on the communion table, well marked up and showing one of her favourite passages.

   I knew she loved the hymns and the choir and was always grateful for the work of the Living Flame.  What I didn't know was that she once played a mean trumpet herself, was part of a marching band and played at the Chicago World's Fair.  

Something I know that others may not is that she was a loyal reader of this blog and often sent me little thank you notes.  I'll miss that.  I'll miss her assertion that "I'm well" even as she struggled with a relentless cough and needed a walker.
    I know she was generous and gracious.  Just look at the spread that was laid out for her service.  

     My grandmother lived to a very old age.  She said, as she approached her 98th birthday that she didn't mind being old, but sometimes felt lonely because there was no one left who'd known her as a girl.  When I imagine our friend as a girl I see music and laughter.  I see dedication to her faith.
    Our friend shared her stories with family and friends-- a great gift.  And I know she followed Christ every day of her life, she prayed fervently and without ceasing.  She shared her faith and her love for God with all who came within her ken.
    And I know that she looked forward with joy to going home to the loving arms of Jesus.  Farewell, dear friend.  We'll see you again, "Beyond the Sunset."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Anniversary Service

Yesterday, Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The creation of the congregation and the construction of our present building took about seven years in total, but this Sunday we remembered the exciting days when we acquired a plot of land, cleared it and put in place plans for a foundation, walls and a roof. 

The first service on our property was held outside on newly cleared land.  Lawn chairs instead of pews.  

Pick up choir

     Twenty-five years later, here we are.

 Rev. Peter Coutts, who conducted the first outdoor service, wasn't able to attend, but clergy, past and present were well represented in the pulpit and in the pews. 

  Rev. Barbara Young was the first minister "called" to the congregation.  Rev. Irwin Cunningham is our current minister.  Rev. Noel Kinnon was the first minister appointed to the church once we had our building.

Rev. David Smith and Hazel Smith "retired" to our congregation where we put them to work, grateful for the many gifts they brought from years of ministry.

Rev. John Allen, with Marjorie Allen and Edna Kinnon.  Rev. Allen, too, retired to SPPC and was frequently called upon to pinch hit in the pulpit.  
Both the Allens and the Smiths have "retired" again and moved up-Island.  We hope their present congregations allow them some time off.

Now, we wouldn't be SPPC if we didn't break bread together.   I hear one of our charter members, Eileen Enns, shamelessly exploited her relatives to provide a catered lunch with a beautiful cake. 

Russ (left) was chairman of the building committee when work began.

Jean (seated left) is our clerk of session.  Frank (right) is an elder.
Non-founding members keep our church growing and our fellowship strong.

These people just like to eat.
 Wasn't that a party!

Thanks to all the organizers, caterers, cleaner-uppers and "all the saints" who made SPPC a reality and today's party such a success.

Monday, April 13, 2015

News and Views

Building Committee
This coming Sunday, April 19, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of our present church building.  I've outlined a bit of our history in other  blogs including the fact that we didn't begin to worship in the present building until 1991. However by April 1990, we had purchased the land and construction was set to begin.

      As part of our celebration, Rev. Peter Coutts will preach.  Rev. Coutts was the minister during construction of the building and preached the dedication service in 1991.  How happy we are that he accepted our invitation to return for the celebration.  That's him  in the picture above, second from the right front row.

       Rev. Coutts was also a contributor to our early newsletter called "News and Views, from Pulpit and Pews."   Here is an excerpt from the July 1990 issue. 
This summer also marks the beginning of another significant change in the life of our church: the erection of our building.  With its completion we will be shifting into a new kind of permanence and open to new avenues of life and service before God.  Jobs like putting out the sign on the roadside each Sunday will give way to vaccuming OUR carpet.  We will have a central meeting place that is always there as well as the control of the thermostat!

The life of our congregation has seen many changes over the last three years, but none will be as great as the ones we will see as we move into our own building.  So much more will be available to us because it is there.  And we will no longer have as an excuse, "if only we had a building."

With this change I will still be learning what it is to be a minister.  but at the same time you will be challenged even more to learn what it is to be a congregation, as we are faced with new issues and tasks made possible by the building.
  I look forward to making this journey in learning with you.  Peter.

     At the same time as the congregation was absorbed with the challenges of erecting a church building, they were also following the progress of Rev. David Smith and his wife, Hazel, in the Interior of B.C.  The Smiths, in retirement and with David facing significant health challenges, had taken on a support role for a foundering congregation in Castlegar.  Rev. Smith was under doctor's orders to conduct Sunday worship and visit one day a week only-- a restriction he found difficult to observe but one essential for his health.  Despite this constraint the Smiths spend several months helping a small congregation move from despair to hope.   
     The ladies group, which had ceased to operate, began meeting again and gave two luncheons, headed up an Easter breakfast and organized a garage sale.  They found an organist and had regular Bible study during Lent.  Eventually, under Rev. Smith's guidance, three congregations joined into one mission charge and hired a full-time minister.  The Smiths had been so successful they'd worked themselves out of the job!
   How apt that our congregation, which began life under the Board of World Mission, should become an informal sponsor for another.  Presbyterian's Sharing, indeed!
Early landscaping

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

   Here is our annual Easter sunrise picture.  Please note, the sun is actually shining this year.  

We have a little bird join us every year too.

Back at the church we had breakfast -- delicious sausages and eggs,  our regular service and finally, birthday cake.


Happy Easter!