A Journey in Faith - the Story of the Squmish United Church

Part 3

Fiftieth Birthday of the United Church and More Recent History

United Church float in the Squamish Days/Loggers' Sports Parade in 1975

The United Church float won the grand aggtregate award in the Squamish Days/Loggers' Sports Parade in 1975

New benches donated to the District as part of the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada

The new benches donated to the District as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada prove attractive to budding musicians

The fiftieth birthday of the United Church of Canada was a memorable celebration for the congregation of Squamish United Church. Early in the year, a committee headed by Mrs. W. Campbell planned a number of enduring projects. A dogwood tree was planted on the lawn in front of the Christian Education Centre, as a reminder of church union in British Columbia. Mr. Les Hobby was commissioned to complete a painting of the church building, with Mount Garibaldi in the background. The framed picture now hangs in the sanctuary. The specially designed anniversary spoons will long be treasured by both purchasers and those who received them as thoughtful gifts.

Two very attractive wooden benches were built by Carl Halvorson, and donated to the District of Squamish, to be placed on Cleveland Avenue for public use. Each bench carries a suitably inscribed metallic plaque honouring church union. Two large red rosettes were awarded to the Squamish United Church for the float which they entered in the Squamish Days Parade. A charming replica of the first church won first prize for the best overall float and another for the best in the club category. These various projects remind us of our growth during the first fifty years of church union and encourage us to continue that growth in the Lord's work during the next fifty years.

In the fall of 1975, the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the United Church of Canada were behind us, and the arrival of our new pastor and his young family gave a very evident feeling of being an alive and enthusiastic church family. Outside of the church, the year was filled with many problems and difficulties - slumping markets, labour strikes, spiralling inflation and high unemployment. Nevertheless, the Official Board reported "the spiritual life of our church is t an all time high, our church is completely free of debt and all financial obligations for 1975 have been completed". There were four U.C.W. groups, two bible study sessions, church schools were meeting on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, nursery care was being provided for those aged three years and under during the morning worship service, a junior and senior choir were flourishing, young people were active as T.I.C.'s, and the church was led by a dedicated board of stewards and elders.

Rev. Wilbur Howard visiting Squamish United Church

Rev. Wilbur Howard visiting Squamish United Church with 78 members of Vancouver-Burrard Presbytery. The moderator is on the left. Rev. Jack Lindquist on the right, and also shown is Terry Finch, chair of Presbytery.

Vietnamese Boat People sponsored by Squamish United Church, 1980

Vietnamese Boat People sponsored by Squamish United Church, 1980. Mrs. Khoa Truong, son Lee and daughter Ann

A new year brought new projects: Participation in the Howe Sound Crusade touched many lives, resulting in both a warmer relationship with other churches in the community, and a true spiritual awakening for many in our congregation. Good News Bibles were placed in the pews, a Benevolent Fund was started to meet special needs, and a Vacation Bible School was held in the summer months. The big financial project was the repair and upgrading of the annex, one-half of the building being converted into a carpeted lounge area. This was first used on June 15, when Vancouver-Burrard Presbytery held a one day retreat in Squamish with Wilbur Howard, Moderator, as guest. Improvements continued, with the blacktopping of the church parking lot, and with culvert reinforcement and a newly graded roadbed at the manse. In May 1977, with the arrival of a third son at the manse, additional needs were met there as well. An extra bedroom was added in the basement, and a study was built for the pastor - complete with desk, chair and shelving.

When the Britannia Beach Community Church closed in the spring of 1977, families from that community were encouraged to join our congregation. Pews from their church were entrusted to our use, and cushions were added. In August 1979 a major decision was made to sponsor a refugee family of Vietnamese "Boat People". On January 18, 1980, "our family" arrived, Mrs. Khoa Truang, her thirteen-year-old son Lee and her twelve-year-old daughter Ann. Although a one-year sponsorship had been agreed, they were with us for only six months, before moving to Vancouver to live with Mrs. Truong's older children. They quickly won the hearts of our congregation and it was hard to say good-bye to them, but we warmly looked forward to their regular visits at Easter and Christmas and were glad to see them happy and doing so well. The congregation extended special thanks to the Refugee Committee (Bill Rempel, Harry McCulloch, Ruth Smith, Barbara Howell and Mildred Campbell) for their many hours of hard work and dedication.

The Stewards were now hard at work installing partitions for church school classes in the annex, and reroofing the church (after the explosion of a light bulb during an Advent Service). The women were also meeting new challenges. Responding to the needs of First United Church in Vancouver, a grocery cart was purchased for the deposit of high protein food. Over 100 tins were quickly filled with cookies and Valentine gifts for their handicapped group, and a spring luncheon for this same group became an annual event. Toiletry kits were assembled for underprivileged children attending United Way special camps, and Campbell Soup labels were collected to support an Evangelical School for the Deaf in Puerto Rico. A highlight of the year was a special friendship night in May, honouring Mrs. Kay Morrison for her 54 years of service to every aspect of life in Squamish United Church. Wednesday night and Sunday morning church school, along with the Vacation Bible School in August gave a real feeling of inter-generational ties within the congregation. A highlight of the year for our T.I.C.'s was taking part in an Open Canada Exchange trip to Prince Edward Island. Twenty-six young people, with Pastor Jack and Mary as leaders and chaperones, spent ten days in P.E.I. Friendships were renewed when their young people made an exchange trip to Squamish in early August of the same year.

Many changes in congregational life were noticed as Squamish United Church headed into the 1980's . The new phenomenon of mothers working outside the home, together with their many activities and commitments in the community took a toll on volunteerism in the church. We were saddened to see the cancellation of the Wednesday night Church School and the T.I.C. group.

The annex washrooms were completely redecorated, a wheel chair ramp to the church was installed, and a much needed church office was added, freeing the pastor's office free for study and appointments.

Evaluation and Expectations were to become key words and from a planning retreat in the fall of 1983 a Statement of Purpose was drawn up by the congregation:

"The purpose of our church community is to challenge and enable each individual to worship God, to grow in His love, and to respond to Christ's call to serve others".

The greeters at the door programme, the hospital visitation team, the Ministerial Chaplaincy, Marriage Preparation classes, church membership classes, Stewardship committee, Benevolent Fund, Community Christmas Care hamper project, and Agape Newsletter all became part of ongoing outreach and pastoral care. Remits from the National Church on "Christian Initiation" and "Christian Understanding of Sexual Orientation, Life Style and Ministry" created many hours of soul searching, study, and prayerful consideration. And in the midst of it all, we found ourselves saying good-bye to our pastor of nine years. Jack and Mary Lindquist and their four boys left us in the summer of 1984, to assume their new pastoral charge in Cranbrook. Rev. Christina Burnett served as interim minister from September 1984 until her induction on June 9, 1985, which was not only her birthday but our official celebration of the 60th anniversary of the United Church in Canada as well. How fitting that only a year later we were to celebrate the 50th anniversary since the first woman, Lydia Gruchy, was ordained!

While the manse stood empty during the summer, considerable work was done inside. Kitchen cupboards were painted, the walls washed, and new flooring was installed. At the annex, the foundation was renewed, the building skirting was replaced and insulated, and a drainage pipe was laid around the perimeter of the building. Responding to the national church's Ventures in Mission programme (for support of the pre-1955 pension plan, new church development, and church redevelopment), we answered the call with pledges of over $30,000.00 - more than doubling our goal.

In October, the Jean Neil Unit of the U.C.W. started hosting birthday parties at the Squamish intermediate and acute care facility (Hilltop House). Later, the Harmony Unit took turns in hosting these enjoyable afternoons of outreach. The Caring Ministry team was formed in the spring of 1985. The purpose of this group was to care for those who were bereaved, sick, lonely, having difficulty coping as a single parent, arriving as a new member, and so on. A well-attended workshop in April provided the starting point for congregational visitation.

A Peace and Justice group was initiated, and their needs and goals were formulated. They became affiliated with Project Ploughshares and Vancouver Interchurch Ploughshares. A Peace Picnic was held on the church grounds in July. The committee worked with the Squamish Citizens for Peace to petition Squamish Council and the regional district to become a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

A Youth Ministry team was working for our congregation for the summer. Four young people and their leader lived and worked together, under the guidance of an advisory team. They accomplished a great deal; painting, working with seniors and children, working in our office, leading worship, cutting lawns, and planting.

The 25th anniversary of the United Church Women was celebrated nationwide on January 11, 1987. A special service commemorating this event was written for the U.C.W., and a history of the mission and work of women in Squamish was included.

The inaugural breakfast of the Men~s Club was held in March. This was followed by a spring clean up of the church grounds and the planting of trees, shrubs and bedding plants. The complete renovation of the church washrooms was the highlight of 1987. The Board of Stewards and the U.C.W. initiated this major undertaking, and it was successfully completed with the financial support of the U.C.W. and the congregation. A long term planning night in May was most successful. A Three- to Five-Year Planning Booklet was compiled after our congregational had completed a goalsetting project. September saw the beginning of an ecumenical youth group, as our church and the Catholic Church jointly provided fellowship for our young people. In November a part-time youth worker was hired to help unite youth in the church.

With the community of Squamish celebrating its 100th birthday, and the congregation of Squamish United Church the 25th anniversary of the Christian Education Centre, it seems appropriate to be remembering our church history. May it be a tribute in remembrance and gratitude to all who have kept the faith in the past and an inspiration for those in the future.

Love one another as I have loved you" John 15:12

Our Ministers

Methodist
  • 1891. Rev. Elihu Manuel held the first service in the Squamish valley.
  • 1894-1895. Rev. Irwin, Rev. Wellington, Rev. Eben Robson and two students, Ed. Braden and Charles Batzold.

Presbyterian

  • 1913. Mr. Matheson, a student from Queen's University, ministered for the summer
  • 1914. Mr. Corkill (Mr. Corkhill later died on active service in World War I)
  • 1915-1918. Students from Westminster Hall, Vancouver, led Sunday Services: J. C. Goodfellow, A.C. Smith, J. C. Clerihue and D. Donaldson, assisted by Robert Young, a layman of the Presbyterian Church, and Mr. Wm. Mashiter, a lay reader of the Anglican Church
  • 1919-1920. Rev. Wm. Burton
  • 1920-1921. Rev. Alex Dunn
  • 1921-1922. Rev. Allan Pound
  • 1922-1926. Ministry provided by students, assisted by layworkers

United Church

Rev. J.R. Hewitt Rev. W.O. Mackenzie
Rev. J. Lindquist Rev. Brenda Faust
Rev. Doug. Lobb Dr. Daniel Bogert O'Brien
Rev. Karen Millard  

From top left: Rev. J.R. Hewitt; Rev. W.O. Mackenzie; Rev. J. Lindquist; Rev. Brenda Faust; Rev. Doug. Lobb; Dr. Daniel Bogert O'Brien; Rev. Karen Millard

  • 1926-1927. Rev. Allan Pound of Lillooet, visited Squamish once a month
  • 1927-1928. Mr. J. Finney and Mr. A. Broatch, students
  • 1928-1929. Rev. Ruddell
  • 1929-1930. Rev. Evan Baker, first resident minister
  • 1930-1942. Rev. J.G. Gibson
  • 1933. Rev. Robert Wilkinson for nine months during the absence of Rev. and Mrs. Gibson
  • 1942-1943. Retired ministers from Vancouver provided a supply ministry
  • 1943-1944. Rev. George Walker
  • 1944-1946. Rev. A.B. McIntosh
  • 1946-1949. Rev. Chas. Addyman
  • 1949-1950. Mr. B.S. Boyle, Student Minister
  • 1950-1955. Rev. J.R. Hewitt
  • 1955-1957. Rev. A.O. McNeill
  • 1957-1958. Rev. H.S. Clugston
  • 1958-1964. Rev. N.J. Penrose
  • 1964-1972. Rev. H.M. Wingfield
  • 1972-1975. Rev. W.O. MacKenzie
  • 1975-1984. Rev. J. Lindquist
  • 1984-1993. Rev. Christina Burnett
  • 1993. Rev. Bob Thompson
  • 1993-1999. Rev. Claire Bowers
  • 1999-2004. Rev. Brenda Faust
  • 2004-2005. Dr. Douglas Lobb
  • 2005-2008. Dr. Daniel Bogert-O'Brien
  • 2008-2009. Rev. Janice Guthrie (Supply)
  • 2009-present. Rev. Karen Millard

Postscript - Into the 21st Century

The Official History of the Squamish United Church terminates in 1988, and it may be premature to set more recent events in their full historical perspective. Suffice it to say that the Church continues a lively, enthusiastic, caring and dedicated group of Christians, now under the direction of a Unified Church Board. The U.C.W.and the Men's Group remain very active, and a full programme continues for children and youth. New ground has been broken over the past decade with the appointment of a succession of three outstanding female pastors. The "Annex" has, once again, undergone a very extensive renovation, using volunteer labour generously overseen by Wilf Grolman; a congregational vote established that in future it would be described as "Trinity Hall", and a room within the Hall dedicated to church functions would be known as "The Gathering Room." The kitchen in the main church building has been totally remodelled by the efforts of the ladies, and the exterior of both buildings has also been completely repainted with volunteer labour. enthusiastically supervised by Val John-Orchison. New technology has seen installation of a modern sound system with wall baffles, and the choir has profited from the tremendous leadership of Ian Brown as it cut its first CD, as well as participating in various community events and music festivals. The church also has developed its own extensive web-site,detailing all upcoming events., and the "electronic church" is a growing feature of our community, with some sixty-five participating families.

Phil. Harness thanks Wilf. Grolman for his efforts in the restoration of Trinity Hall

We notice a strange resemblance to Moses, as Phil. Harness (Chair of Board) thanks Wilf. Grolman for his efforts in organising the restoration of Trinity Hall.

Carol Grolman's piano selection for welcome to Trinity Hall

Church Organist Carol Grolman prepares a piano selection to welcome us to Trinity Hall

Dedication of the renamed Trinity Hall in May 2002

Dedication of the renamed "Trinity Hall" May 2002

Perhaps even more importantly, the congregation is looking actively to the future, as can be seen from a perusal of the current Annual Report, posted on this web-site. In particular, a detailed facilities report has been prepared, looking at the physical facilities that will be needed to carry the church into the current millenium.

Rev. Brenda Faust concluded her ministry in June of 2004. The Rev. Doug Lobb, former senior minister of Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto, and former Secretary-General of Congregational-Christian churches in the Unitred States served as Interim Minister from August 2004 to November 2005. His ministry was marked by powerful, challenging and profound sermons, and memorable weeknight classes on new paradigms of Christian thought. Laura Thompson was appointed as Youth coordinator, also in August 2004, and she quickly established an active youth group. In October of 2004, an outstanding concert of artists from our community and from Vancouver dedicated a sophisticated electronic keyboard to the music ministry of our church and to the memory of Burt Wray. Dr. Daniel Bogert O'Brien moved from Ottawa to serve as full-time minister with Squamish United Church from the end of October 2005 to August 2008; he stimulated us with his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, his deep passion for the sacred, his ability to relate deep theological issues to current movies and his virtuosity on the banjo. During his ministry, Laura Thompson, Judi Rhodes and Grace Halvorsson in turn coordinated the Sunday School programme.

In September of 2008, Dr. Dan acepted a call to Eastminster Church in Toronto. During the fall of 2008. worship was sustained by our lay leadership, but we were pleased to welcome the Rev. Janice Guthrie as our Supply Minister in time for Advent. She continued to lead our worship through May of 2009, faithfully making the long and tiring journey from her Vancouver home on the 5.00 a.m. bus each Sunday morning. We learned to respect both her wide knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures and her quiet but deep spirituality. The Rev. Karen Millard began her ministry in June of 2009, coming from a previous pastorate in Smithers, BC.