The church building where the Parish of St. Augustine’s, Marpole worships is a great example of the traditional single room structures that typify the earlier wooden church buildings in our diocese. Many of these churches built in the first and second decade of the 20th century still exist and serve their communities well. St. Augustine’s is certainly one of those buildings. There have of course been renovations, improvements, extensions and other buildings built on the parish grounds, and that has continued with the current program of improvements. The current work includes a red cedar and wrought iron railing between the Memorial Garden and a new porch and stairs which connects the 1908 church building to the parish hall built in the 1980’s as well as some ambitious upgrading of the lawns and gardens.
The parish hall over recent years has evolved into a centre for the Marpole community and the home of a number of compassionate service meal programs like the Eburne Outreach Society. The parish and their ordained leader, the vicar, the Reverend Andrew Halladay has welcomed new members into the flock and those new members have had a great impact on the community. David Ormsby and his wife Petra were largely responsible for the porch and railing project, relative newcomer Eric Fair has taken a leadership role not only in worship but as the Outreach Kitchen Coordinator, and diocesan Children and Youth Ministry Coordinator, Caitlin Reilley Beck joined the parish relatively recently and takes on numerous leadership roles including Treasurer and Children’s Ministry Coordinator. Elsie Stephen who is an excellent accompanist and more than adequately fills the role as musician for parish is also Rector’s Warden and Stewardship Coordinator. By mentioning these folks there is always the danger that others are being missed, but the point here is that this small worshipping community that was in decline is experiencing a resurgence and that is something most worthy of gratitude to God.
The Harvest Thanksgiving service at St. Augustine’s on October 9, 2016 was definitely a gathering of “family”, family who are thankful for the opportunity to worship together. The Reverend Andrew Halladay was not present as he had committed to being at the Sorrento Centre in BC’s interior for a special long weekend event. Some bad luck had befallen Andrew as four days prior to Harvest Thanksgiving he had broken his ankle and was participating in the Sorrento Centre event on crutches. The preacher and presider for the liturgy was guest priest, the Reverend Donna Kirkpatrick who has in the recent past attended St. Augustine’s and been of assistance to Andrew and others in the parish and therefore considered part of the St. Augustine’s community.
The Eucharist was a lovely service and Reverend Kirkpatrick’s sermon examined the concepts of thankfulness and gratitude to God primarily through her examination of the Gospel for the day, Luke 17: 11-19, “Jesus Heals the 10 Lepers” and also the Epistle, Philippians 4: 4-9 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice.”
The exchange of the Peace was an extended community experience much enjoyed by all, particularly by Rocky, the “church hound”. The small choir sang very well and offered an anthem during Communion, “A Thanksgiving Prayer” with the half dozen choristers gathered in a semi-circle around Elsie Stephen at the piano. I was honoured to be introduced to St. Augustine’s parishioner, Grace Lungley who had turned 100 on August 29. The parish celebrated her birthday with a special party on September 4.
The space was beautifully decorated for Harvest Thanksgiving with multiple flower arrangements positioned all over the sanctuary, punctuated with displays of harvest fruits and vegetables. At the conclusion of worship, members of the Altar Guild and others (including the aforementioned Grace Lungley who rolled up her sleeves and joined in) collected all of the flower arrangements and transported them across to the parish hall where they would be available for people to take to brighten their homes over the thanksgiving weekend. Members of the parish had also responded by bringing donations of food in order to participate in the second year of “Sharing the Harvest”, an initiative in joint ministry with St. Faith’s. The two parishes invited members of the Marpole neighbourhood to come by the St. Augustine’s hall on Thanksgiving Monday (the 10th) and pick up bread, fresh produce, non-perishable food items and share in some coffee and conversation. St. Faith’s deacon, the Reverend Christine Wilson is the principal organizer of this now annual event.
I was made to feel very welcome and included and was grateful that David and Petra took some time to speak to me about the Memorial Garden railing and new porch project. One of the features of the finished railings is that they have been decorated with wood burning calligraphy beautifully executed by Petra. The first full length rail contains the following poem:
“Lord, you stand with arms outstretched and bread and wine at hand, and here the ancient word should live as new, “Take, eat and drink all this meant for you.”
And on the second railing the milder version of the well-known 18th century children’s prayer often attributed to The Spectator editor, Joseph Addison:
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Thy Love guard me through the night, And wake me in the morning light.”
Many thanks to the Parish of St. Augustine’s for their hospitality and for their ministry of sharing and caring for those around them in thanksgiving for all God’s Blessings.