On the weekend of June 11 and 12, 2016, “Juneuary” came in like a lion, with gusting winds and copious precipitation reported across the Lower Mainland. But this inclement weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the organizers of, and participants in the Feast of St. Barnabas, 125th Anniversary Celebration at the Parish of St. Barnabas in New Westminster.
Saturday, June 11 there was a St. Barnabas Day Celebration on the church grounds and in the hall with a special invitation going out to those friends who live nearby in the historic “Brow of the Hill” neighbourhood. There was music, decorations, special guests (including members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos of “Flintstones” fame) and of course St. Barnabas’s, trademark, delicious food. The kitchen team included a couple of New Westminster Firefighters. The fabulous aroma of simmering Central American cuisine filled the parish hall and beyond.
The first round of entertainment got started early as the skies were very threatening. First up on the portable covered stage situated on the parish grounds between the church and the hall was The Syndicate. The Syndicate played a mix of covers and original tunes, light rock, blues, rock with a jazzy edge and a latin tinge. With the rains threatening and the Saturday morning Yoga class still taking place in the parish hall it was great that the band began their set earlier than planned.
Although it was necessary to move much of the celebration indoors, a great time was had by all.
On Sunday, June 12, Bishop Melissa Skelton joined the faith community of St. Barnabas, their rector, Reverend Emilie Smith; Reverend Shannon Tennant of Shiloh 6th-Avenue United Church (now worshipping at St. Barnabas'), some former priests of the parish: the Reverend Elizabeth Beale, the Reverend Kay Schmitt and the Venerable Mavis Brownlee for Eucharist with Baptisms.
At approximately 10:10am (St. Barnabas time according to the rector) the rector, the Reverend Emilie Smith, supported by crutches came forward to the front of the nave at the chancel entrance and welcomed the congregations. Emilie had fallen while out walking with her best friend and suffered a broken foot. She was happy to inform all who had gathered that “we have run out of bulletins…YAY…so please share.” She was quick to make the Shiloh 6th- Avenue United Church community welcome saying that the entire service was printed in the bulletin “but please don’t worry if you get lost…it’ll all work out.” The Opening Hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” was a most appropriate choice for ecumenical worship.
Bishop Skelton’s conversation with the children of the parish was followed by her sermon and both were based on the Gospel for the day, Matthew 10: 7-16. Sitting on the chancel steps with the children gathered around, Bishop Skelton brought forward a good-sized cardboard box. The bishop produced a packsack and then went through the box that contained items that she would like to have with her, or would need to have with her on a hike: coffee mug, cookbook, umbrella, keys etc. and involved the youngsters by encouraging them to instruct her on which of the items she should pack. The end result was a very heavy packsack, difficult to lift and unwieldy to carry which didn’t stop one youngster with almost superhuman strength (he couldn’t have weighed more than 24 kilos) from doing a clean and jerk, hoisting the packsack on his back in one motion. Regardless of the action taking place, Bishop Skelton had illustrated the central message of the passage which is that Jesus sent the disciples out to connect people to the nearness of God. When we bring things with us to distract us we close ourselves to the possibilities of making new relationships. In the passage, Jesus says don’t bring anything with you, don’t take anything, as far as possessions or trappings are concerned, “let them go.”
The Sacrament of Baptism followed the sermon, as Valentina and Jesus were welcomed as members of the Body of Christ. The happiness and joy in the old wooden church as the two young people made their vows, were baptized with Holy Water, anointed with Chrism and marked with the sign of the Cross by Bishop Skelton was a testimony to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Following the Eucharist, Rev. Shannon Tennant (of Shiloh-6th Avenue United), and Rev. Emilie Smith spoke a bit about the partnership involving the two worshipping communities. The Shiloh-6th Avenue building has been sold and the congregation of about 60 began sharing the space Easter Day. Emilie said that so far the partnership has been “nothing but blessings” and she made a humourous reference to potential opportunities for sharing sermons if by chance one of the clergy involved had not had time to prepare a suitable homily.
Shannon announced that the Shiloh United Vacation Bible Camp would be going ahead as planned and volunteers from both communities are needed because there were already 36 registered for the July program.
Then Emilie introduced the former St. Barnabas clergy who had processed, vested and been part of the Sanctuary Party, the Reverend Kay Schmitt and the Venerable Mavis Browlnles. And then she called up former rector, the Reverend Elizabeth Beale who was in the congregation that morning to be greeted by the community.
Warden, Richard Tomkinson had a few words to say before picking up his trumpet and leading the Closing Hymn, "Let Streams of Living Justice Flow". Richard shared with those gathered that for him the third verse of this hymn puts into words the mission, ministry, attitude, history and heritage of the Parish of St. Barnabas' Anglican Church...
Your city's built for music: we are the stones you seek.
Your harmony is language. We are the words you speak.
Our faith we find in service, our hope in other's dreams.
Our love in hand of neighbour. Our homeland brightly gleams.
Inscribe our hearts with justice, your way - the path untried:
Your truth - the heart of stranger, your life - the Crucified.
Following worship the parish met with Bishop Skelton in the parish hall for a Q&A while the Shiloh United folks had a business meeting in the sanctuary and then everybody gathered in the hall for a seafood banquet.
Photos: Randy Murray
For more photos visit the Diocese of New Westminster's Facebook page - ANGLICAN CONVERSATION