On May 1st, 1865, one hundred and fifty years ago next month, the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Sapperton, was consecrated. In those days the church was a small wooden building in a clearing in the great forest outside of the new city of New Westminster. Columbia Street, which ran by the front of the church, was little more than a dirt track traversed by the occasional farmer’s cart. Today the historic building, much enlarged over the years, sits on one of the lower mainland’s busiest traffic routes, surrounded by homes and commercial buildings. It is one of BC’s oldest church buildings in continuous use.
The current congregation is as welcoming, enthusiastic and committed as any of the previous. The parish has just completed a major renovation to its parish hall to modernize the kitchen and provide wheelchair accessible washrooms, among other improvements. With major increases in people living in the neighbourhood (big changes are in store for housing and density in New Westminster particularly the northeastern sections) expected in the coming years, the future holds challenges but also a great deal of promise!
This year St Mary the Virgin, Sapperton, is celebrating its long and successful history, and looking forward to many more years of ministry. Anniversary celebrations include a Heritage Dinner held in February, a wine and cheese homecoming event for friends and former parishioners on May 2nd, inclusion in the New Westminster Heritage Tour on May 31st, and an anniversary service with Bishop Melissa and invited dignitaries on October 25th. For more information, call 604-521-2314 or check St Mary’s website at www.stmarysapperton.ca.
Church from front - 1898.jpg : Rector John Davis and Churchwarden Charles Digby, former Royal Engineer, meet in front of St Mary the Virgin, Sapperton, in 1898.
The preceding is a brief excerpt from Rob England's feature article which will appear in the May 2015 issue of TOPIC, the monthly publication of the Diocese of New Westminster.