On January 3rd, 2010 at 2pm the final Eucharist service in the long life of the parish of St. John the Divine, Burnaby
was celebrated. A capacity congregation prayed, sang, wept, laughed and shared stories of what this incredible faith community meant to them personally and to the growth and development of the City of Burnaby.
St. John the Divine parish has had three homes over the 110 years.
Since 1999 the parish has worshipped at the Smith Street location and continued until the fall of 2009 when the congregation, trustees and clergy realized that there wasn’t enough money to keep the community going.
The parish met in a special vestry November 15th to vote on a recommendation for closure.
The parishioners decided by 78% in favour to petition the Bishop for closure. This decision was not arrived at easily or hastily but followed a series of meetings both in the parish and with the Bishop, staff and Regional Archdeacon.
Prior to the commencement of the final worship in the sanctuary, Bishop Michael Ingham and the Venerable John Bailey, Archdeacon of Westminster deconsecrated the ground situated on the north side of the church building that contained the Memorial Garden where the ashes of many former St. John’s parishioners rest. The contents of the garden was then moved to Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster where those remains will be cared for in perpetuity.
In place of a homily Bishop Michael invited St John’s parishioners to speak and share a favourite church memory. More than a dozen people spoke, some choking back tears while others suppressed laughter as they recalled a particularly humourous event in church history.
What really made an impact was the consistent thread in the stories told on that early January afternoon and they had little to do with; structure or a roof, pews, chancels, naves or organs. The consistent thread was the community, the people, 110 years of disciples of Jesus meeting in Burnaby to witness God’s love for the world and carry out God’s mission on earth.
Longtime parishioner Bill Corson paused for a few seconds after sharing some special memories and said, “the memories flow deep and will be with us always.”
This church has completed its life cycle. It was a long productive life. Thanks be to God!