The Rev. Kevin Dixon 60-feet high with the new cross about to be installed above St. Mary’s Kerrisdale. (Photo by Harry Siempelkamp)

The Rev. Kevin Dixon, rector of St. Mary’s Kerrisdale, is a man not afraid of heights.

He was up in a bucket installing the first cross to grace the church that was built in 1913, which completed a $1 million renovation that included a new roof and reconstructed bell tower for the parish of 1,600.

“I don’t have any trouble walking along the surface of the earth, so I don’t have a problem with walking on a two-foot  wide plank up higher,” he said – although he said some people watching him from below were nervous.

The cross is in the Celtic style with flared ends. Many in the parish are quite familiar with it, for the cross played an important part in St. Mary’s Good Friday vigil and on Easter day.

Following the services, the cross of anodized aluminum was passed among parish families. Over 50 families had it in their homes for three days. A journal went with the cross for comments, and lots of photographs of it were taken.

Then, on November 1, with the help of two large cranes, a bell, donated by the Brown family, and the cross were lifted and installed.

Although Dixon is not absolutely sure, it appears that the bell is also the first for St. Mary’s – at least the first for well over 60 years. A loudspeaker had been installed in the tower which played bell sounds – but now the bell is real.

The rector said he would like to have the bell sound at noon every day – an angelus (a pattern of three strokes) followed by the bell striking twelve. However, before that begins the parish will approach the city to make sure it won’t conflict with a noise bylaw.

The Rev. Kevin Dixon (in red hardhat) and workman Harry Siempelkamp install a cross on top of the new bell tower at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale, the last part of a $1 million renovation. (Photo by Gayle Mitchell)

During the baptism of five children last month, the bell was rung each time one was baptised - however that’s a practice that will happen one time only.

Besides the tower, bell, and cross, other work on St. Mary’s included repairs to a wall of the gymnasium, removal of six pews from the front of the nave to provide a more flexible worship space, repairs to some windows, improvements to a lounge, and a repainting. Renovations to the kitchen  now allow the parish to serve up to 150 meals at the weekly community lunch which is held in the parish hall every Tuesday.

“It was just a whole whack of deferred maintenance,” said Dixon.