Bishop Hills Memorial Church of St. Mary the Virgin more commonly referred to as St. Mary’s South Hill celebrated 100 years of ministry Sunday, June 27th, 2010.
This beautiful little wooden church in Southeast Vancouver has seen the world around it change dramatically over the past 100 years and move in directions that the founders in 1910 couldn’t have imagined. But on this misty Sunday morning none of that mattered as the church, filled to capacity welcomed one and all to worship together and celebrate the Eucharist.
For this special liturgy the St. Mary’s community welcomed: Bishop Michael Ingham as the preacher and presider, Bishop Gerard LaPlante and the clergy staff at St. Raphael’s Old Catholic Church and His Honour, The Honourable Steven Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
St. Mary’s Priest-in-charge, Rev. John Firmston, Director of Music, David Caird, and the members of the 100th Anniversary Committee are to be congratulated for assembling a wonderful day in commemoration of this milestone.
Music in worship was led by David and the St. Mary’s Choir who were joined by members of the Roberts Community Choir and others. The opening anthem, “Like the Beat of a Drum” by Jay Althouse was particularly inspirational and featured some very proficient drumming by Rev. Firmston in support of pianist Eiko Izeki’s accompaniment.
For his sermon text Bishop Michael presented the congregation with some information about Bishop George Hills, the first Bishop in British Columbia and the person to who’s memory the church is dedicated. Using events from Bishop Hill’s truly extraordinary life of ministry, Bishop Michael illustrated that the beginnings of the Anglican Church in British Columbia were fraught with challenges and controversy, division and dissension but Bishop George Hill’s principled leadership and adherence to his profound belief in the inclusive and enduring love of God prevailed and is part of the foundation of the Anglican Church in this part of the world.
Following worship, Rev. Firmston and Sacristan Bob Tipping greeted everyone as they left the sanctuary for the Parish Hall where they were welcomed to a celebratory lunch by The Honourable Steven Point.
The Reverend Michael Batten of St. David of Wales wrote the following words describing his reaction to His Honour’s address at the celebratory luncheon.
At the reception following the liturgy, the Lieutenant-Governor was invited to address the gathering. After making a few formal remarks, His Honour put away his prepared text and spoke movingly from the heart about his own spiritual life. He emphasized the fundamental and basic human need to maintain a connection with the Creator, regardless of cultural background or religious conviction, and described how he had returned to active participation in the Christian community. He acknowledged the sadness that many of us feel at the dwindling of our churches, and also spoke with joy of the gladness with which he will join in prayer and worship at any church to which he is invited. "We are all praying to the same God," he remarked. He specifically thanked the Anglican Church for the role it had played in educating his mother at a church-run Indian Residential School, and expressed appreciation for the ways in which neighbourhood churches such as St Mary's help to make their communities strong and healthy. His remarks reminded everyone present that, despite the many challenges faced by churches and other communities of faith in a secular culture, we are engaged in important spiritual work.
Above on Right - Bishop Michael during the Peace
On the left the Rev. John Firmston thanks the congregation as they leave the sanctuary. On the right the Honourable Steven Point greets the congregation as they enter the Parish Hall for lunch.