On Sunday, May 30, 2021, Bishop Stephens visited his parish of Church of the Holy Trinity for their Feast of Title (Patronal Festival) and Centenary Year Celebration Eucharist.
The Eucharist was livestreamed and only the sanctuary party and liturgy participants were onsite. This would be the first Sunday following the May 25th announcement by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry that she would allow onsite gathering for religious services for up to 50 people (of course that would depend on the size of the facility and its ability to accomodate that many people and retain social/physical distancing and all other COVID protocols). Bishop Stephens had not given permission for the churches of the Diocese of New Westminster to open in this way for May 30. A slower more cautious approach has been chosen for our diocese as re-opening progresses. Parishes are asked to move forward at a pace with which they are most comfortable and in collaboration with diocesan staff ensuring that their re-opening plans are well thought out with the focus always on complying with health orders and safety of those in attendance. .
At 10am, Warden, Patrick Finch who is also the parish livestreamer began the broadcast and Bishop's Warden, Sean Latimer welcomed the 10 people in the building and the 50+ online to worship. He gave some context about the liturgy informing the congregation about the Patronal Festival and the Centennial Celebration being recognized that day. Following his greeting and address, organist, Ulo Valdma played the Processional Hymn, "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation."
Prior to the Gathering of the Community prayers, Bishop Stephens asked that the onsite and online congregation pause for a time of silent reflection on the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School.
The Eucharist continued with the lay people present taking on the roles of reader, psalmist and intercessor. The liturgy took place entirely in the chancel between the choir stalls and the reredos. The psalmist for the liturgy, Lenore Richards chanted Psalm 29 and Bishop's Warden, Sean Latimer sang two verses of the Gradual Hymn chosen for the Feast Day, "Holy, Holy, Holy" Bishop Reginald Heber's well-known 19th century hymn. Both Lenore and Sean are accomplished singers.
The first paragraph of Bishop John's sermon was of a personal nature, his thoughts on being there that day, again online, unable to "physically be together." However, in his second paragraph he turned the clock back 100 years and took a look at the centennial:
One hundred years is a full and rich history for a parish. As I thought about this, I wondered about what life was like back in 1921, here are a few things to ponder… The average life expectancy was about 59 years. Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had only been in existence under that name for one year. The first original White Rock pier was actually built in 1912, but that had to be replaced again in 1914, either way both versions were well over 100 years ago. In 1921, the village of White Rock had a population of about 500. The first Anglican service was on Easter Sunday, 1920, and was held in the school, and led by the Rev. W.M. Holdom. The next year it was determined that a church should be built, and after the building lot was purchased, it was all volunteers, save for one paid person, who erected the first church. 68 people attended the service of dedication on May 1, 1921, with Archbishop dePencier presiding. Those were the humble beginnings 100 years ago. And the Holy Spirit has guided this parish in so many ways ever since.
At the conclusion of worship, Bishop John was called back to the chancel where he received a physically distanced COVID conscious version of Happy Birthday sung by Sean and Lenore as he would be celebrating a birthday two days later.
There was a very small reception held in the meeting room/lounge located adjacent to the parish kitchen. In order to respect the COVID-19 attendance restrictions, Warden, Simon Johnston, ODNW had remained at home during the liturgy but attended the meeting with the bishop that got underway at about 11:30am.
The Parish of the Church of the Holy Trinity, White Rock at this time in their history are in transition and the transition has been challenging. Please keep the parish in your prayers as they enter into the next 100 years of ministry.