A small but beautiful brown church on Hudson Street in Vancouver had a very big 100th Birthday Celebration this year.
Plans for the celebration started months earlier. Committees formed, plans were made and duties assigned. Most members of the congregation contributed in some way.
Elsie Stephens, our choir director and resident musician wrote a special hymn, "Hymn for St., Augustine Centenary." Betty Henshaw, Betty Pearson and Doreen Olson organized and assigned duties.
Some of us brought wine and cheese, and sundry other delicacies. Invitations were sent to members of the community who were not regular church attendees. Invitations where sent to members who had moved as far away as the province of Quebec.
The decoration committee made shadow dancing figures of black cardboard construction paper representing most of the dances that were popular from 1908 to 2008.
Our resident historian Doreen Stephens dug back in the archives as far as 1908. Our priest, the Rev. Graeme Brownlee, could be seen bustling around making sure not a detail was overlooked. He had the responsibility of planning the church service and bulletin among other things.
A candlelight display was arranged and organized for Saturday evening to light up the lawn in front of the church. As the day of the celebration drew near, excitement grew (along with a few frayed nerves). Leslee Hunter, our secretary had many added duties.
Finally Saturday evening arrived and approximately 150 people attended the wine and cheese party. The imagery of the candlelight did not go unnoticed and people passing by stopped to inquire about the celebration.
On Sunday a large group filled the Church. People who had not seen each other for as many as 40 years reunited. There were tears and hugs of love and joy. Extra pews and extra chairs accommodated the overflow crowd.
St. Augustine’s 100th birthday celebration
Bishop Michael Ingham presided, accompanied by the Rev. Graeme Brownlee and the Rev. Patrick Blaney. The feelings of love and joy predominated as the choir led us in lifting our voices to the Lord.
After the service, the congregation moved to the church hall for a smorgasbord luncheon, catered by Cravings Restaurant. Students from Sir Winston Churchill High School served the luncheon and cleaned up afterwards.
Finally two Birthday Cakes were served. One had a sketch of St. Augustine's drawn in icing while the other was decorated with a cross. Finally and a little reluctantly, everyone dispersed and went home.
And what was this celebration really about? Of course it was about Christian love-the love of God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though it is more than presumptuous of me to say....I believe the Holy Trinity must have been applauding, saying "Good work, well done, and Happy Birthday St. Augustine's and may you celebrate another hundred more."