This history of Squamish United Church is based on a document prepared in 1988. It is dedicated to the memory of Freda (Munro) Clarke (1907-1983), who was responsible for researching and writing the largest part of the material. Because of her love of history and our congregation, we are able to pass her knowledge on to future congregations to enjoy. She is lovingly remembered.
Our past is worth knowing. It gives the present its setting, and thereby has a steadying influence. It gives a sense of proportion. What seemed a mountain, with the lapse of time, may be seen to be only a molehill. The document has a charm all its own. It warms the heart with interest and amusement. It awakens memories; many that bless, and perchance some that burn. Over its landscape there ever stands a rainbow.
Committee: Nancy Hutchinson, Fern Green, Lynette Halvorson, June Halvorson
July of 1891.... It must have been a beautiful summer day when a Methodist Minister, the Rev. Elihu Manuel and a companion rowed from Gibson's Landing to Squamish. His journey took him along the west shore of Howe Sound, north of Anvil Island to the head of the Sound, and then up the Squamish River to near its present confluence with the Mamquam River. In the area now known as the North Yards, he and his companion visited the home of an early settler, presumably that of the Rae family, where they held what is believed to have been the first divine service in this region.
Upon his departure, the settlers were once more left to worship in their own unassisted way until 1894. On May 6th in that year, Miss Annie Edwards (later to become Mrs. Harry Judd) started the first Sunday School and Bible Class in the community's first schoolhouse, close to the duplex just north of the Wagon Wheel Trailer Court. During 1894 and 1895 a number of Methodist ministers and students periodically found their way to Squamish to assist and encourage the worshippers. Each Sunday, Miss Edwards would appoint one of the settlers to lead the service on the following Sunday. At these meetings, hymns were sung, prayers offered and a portion of the Scriptures was read and discussed. Attendance was good, ranging from twenty-five to forty. The services continued on an interdenominational basis until 1904, when a lay reader of the Anglican Church Mr. William Mashiter and his wife went to England, and the organist (Miss Judd) moved to Vancouver.
But changes were taking place. In 1907, the Howe Sound and Northern Railway decided to construct a railway from the head of Howe Sound, passing through the Cheakamus Canyon to Pemberton, with the hope of continuing onwards into the interior. However, progress was slow. In 1913, the Pacific Great Eastern took over the original company, and backed by the provincial government, continued the project. The centre of the valley had moved southward to what is now downtown Squamish. And as the population grew, Bishop Dart recommended that the Anglicans in the community appoint their own minister. The Rev. Allan Greene began to hold regular services every second week; the first communion service in the Valley was held on July 7th, 1912, with seven taking part. The Rev. Pentcroth officiated. The Rev. Greene soon recommended building a church and raising funds for this purpose. He left in the fall, and was succeeded by the Rev. Baxter, who carried the project to a successful conclusion. Thus, the Anglican Church on Sixth Street was officially opened on July 20, 1913. This left those who were not Anglicans without a church home, but not for long.
With the Anglicans firmly settled into their own church building, the Presbyterian Church of Canada took the remaining Protestants of the Squamish Valley under its wing. Mr. Matheson, a Theology student from Queen's College, Kingston, Ontario, was appointed to serve Squamish, or Newport as it was then known, for the summer months. Services were held in the school building, a two room wooden framed building which had been constructed on the west side of Third Street, almost directly across the lane behind the present Christian Education Centre. In 1914, Mr. Matheson was replaced by another student from Queen's, a Mr. Corkill, who served the Squamish community until he enlisted in the First World War.
During the next few years, services were taken by Mr. Robert Young, a lay member of the Presbyterian Church, and by Mr. William Mashiter, a lay member of the Anglican Church. A number of students from Westminster Hall, the Presbyterian Theological College in Vancouver, also travelled to Squamish to hold Sunday Services. Among these travelling ministers-in-training were J.C. Goodfellow, J.L. Clerihue, D. Donaldson, A.C. Smith and H.M. Rae.
The first Sunday School in Squamish itself was started by Robert Young. He served as Superintendent, assisted by Mr. William McNeil. This Sunday School also included the Anglican children until 1927, when a second Sunday School was started in the Anglican church. When the new Mashiter School was opened, the Presbyterians continued to hold services in the unused school building until 1919, when Dr. N.J. Paul returned from overseas and purchased the structure for his home. During the next two years, services moved to the Rex Theatre, now the Howe Sound Business Centre.
The search for a permanent church home was begun by the ladies of the Presbyterian Church. On August 12, 1913, they had founded the Ladies Aid. Approximately thirty ladies were charter members, including Miss Jean Matheson (later Mrs. Jimmy Neil), Mrs. H.A. Munro, Mrs. H. McNeill, Mrs. M. Bazley, Mrs. Minnie Armstrong, Mrs. Charles Lamport and Mrs. Frank Scott. The first president was Mrs. Hume, with Miss Matheson as Treasurer and Mrs. Ludke as Secretary. These ladies were responsible for renovations to the old school building, and also purchased the first Communion Service. In addition, they found money to pay the students who came from Vancouver to hold Sunday services. In 1916, they decided to start a Building Fund, and a year later gave $60.00 to the Board of Managers for the purchase of a lot just north of the present Christian Education Centre.
Due to the demands of numerous war aid activities, the Ladies Aid recessed for the next two years. However, they were reorganized in 1919, under the presidency of Mrs. Art Young. One year later, with Mrs. Jessie Bazley as president, they asked Mr. Frank Scott to prepare plans for a church building. By 1921, Mr. Scott had built the main portion of the present Annex on a lot to the north of the present Christian Education Centre. The vestibule and rear of the building were added much later. The ladies contributed an initial $300.00 to the Building Fund, and later provided another $125.00 to reduce the debt. In addition, they contributed furnishings and other improvements. At last the Squamish Presbyterian Church had a home of its own!
The congregation of the Squamish Presbyterian Church realized that a Union of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches in Canada was fast becoming a possibility, after more than thirty years of discussions. On June 10th, 1925 a majority of the three churches united to form the United Church of Canada, and on August 23rd, 1927 the Squamish Presbyterian Church decided to become the Squamish United Church.
As yet, there was no resident minister; theological students still served the congregation, and a minister from Lillooet came to Squamish occasionally to hold a Sunday Service. Finally, in May of 1929, the Rev. Evan Baker was posted to Squamish, serving our church for one year. He was succeeded by the Rev. J.G. Gibson who, with his wife, ministered to the Squamish United Church from 1930 to 1942, broken only by a nine month period holiday in Europe in 1933. Rev. Gibson's long ministry gave the congregation a much needed feeling of solidarity and permanence.
With a resident minister and his family firmly settled in Squamish, permanent living quarters were needed within easy reach of the church. In 1930, the Ladies Aid under the presidency of Mrs. D.D. Morrison bravely undertook the task of providing a manse; Mrs. Morrison retained that post until 1939, when the mortgage on the manse was finally burned.
On the 8th of November 1930 the P.G.E. railway offered to sell Lot 19, on the south eastern corner of Victoria St. and Fifth Avenue to the Squamish United Church for the princely sum of $25, the deed to be presented as soon as the manse was built and occupied. At approximately the same time, the Lillooet Board of Church Managers donated $200 towards the project. The ladies lost no time in setting up a building committee (Mrs. J. Kuntze, Mrs. D. MacCollum, Mrs. D. D. Morrison, Mrs. J. A. Quick, Mrs. C. B. Ingraham and Rev. J. G. Gibson).
The location of the building posed a problem, as the adjacent house had been built very close to the lot line, with windows facing the proposed manse. This difficulty was resolved by placing the new building at an angle, with the main floor higher than that of the adjoining house. This was a decided advantage, as there never was any difficulty in finding the manse. "Turn off Cleveland to Victoria, and keep going till you come to the house that sits kitty-corner on the lot."
Built almost entirely by volunteers, under the supervision of Mr. T. K. Smith, the material for the foundation was on site early in January, and more lumber and other materials arrived in the spring. Work continued steadily, and the manse was ready for occupancy in the spring of 1932. Although the ladies had pushed the project and raised money by every means possible, tribute must also be paid to the men who worked so hard to make their dream come true - Don MacCollum, Tom Smith, Robert Kirk, Bob Ross, Rev. J. G. Gibson, Lew Brooks, R. E. McNamee, C. B. Ingraham and many others. Although the manse was ready for occupancy by the Rev. and Mrs. Gibson and their son, the upper floor was not completed until many years. Finishing touches to the main floor, exterior, and even furniture were still needed, and a debt had to be paid.
The ladies worked for seven more years before the manse was truly owned by the Squamish United Church. Raffles, teas, bazaars, luncheons, turkey dinners, bulb sales, garden parties, plays, travelling baskets, catering to dances, and bean suppers were just a few of the ways the money was raised. A willingness to carry out many ingenious methods of raising money achieved the desired result. The manse was finally paid for!
Although members of the Ladies Aid were wholly committed to construction of a manse, the formation of a Junior Ladies Aid in January of 1931 proved of invaluable assistance. By taking over much of the care of the church, the Junior Aid made it possible for the senior ladies to devote all of their time and energies to the manse.
During the years 1931 to 1939, when the Junior Aid disbanded, its members raised the necessary funds to shingle the church roof, add a vestibule, steeple, and new steps, provide a janitorial service and maintain a supply of wood. Other smaller items included the purchase of a new stove, window panes, repairs to the chimney and church steps, occasional payment of light bills and donations to Allocation and M & M Funds. The paint for the exterior of the manse was also provided by these young ladies, who raised the money by projects similar to those undertaken by the senior ladies.
Among familiar names in the Book of Minutes are Marion Eadie, Rose Watson, Mary Stathers, the five Lasser sisters, Mary and Violet Sobotka, Mary Munro, Iris Ingraham and Esther Lamport.
During the early forties, the Second World War occupied the thoughts and efforts of most members of the Squamish congregation. The Rev. J. G. Gibson retired in 1942. He was succeeded by two retired ministers, the Rev. George Walker in 1943-44, and the Rev. W. B. McIntosh in 1944-46.
At a Congregational meeting held in February 1945, it was agreed that the original little church had become much too small, especially in view of the large size of the Sunday School. It was proposed that an extension be built across the rear of the church, to provide added space. A Building Committee was appointed, but at the Annual Congregational meeting in January 1946 it was recommended that no action be taken, because of continuing wartime restrictions. The issue was raised again three years later, during the pastorate of Rev. Charles Addyman. A Building and Collecting Committee was appointed, and through a canvass of church members and adherents, a total of $1,000 was promised towards an addition that would cost approximately $10,000. The Committee contacted Dr. Bunt of the Home Mission Board for financial assistance, and an offer of $1,500 was extended. This left $7,500 to be raised. In the meantime, the congregation raised money to buy two lots on the north eastern corner of Victoria St. and Fourth Avenue, as the first step in relocating the church and adding an extension across the rear.
The Rev. John Hewitt became minister in 1950, and he soon realized that the existing building was totally inadequate for Christian Education in Squamish. The time was now ripe for action, and it was decided to move the church to one of the recently purchased lots. Before acting on this plan, the Official Board met with the Superintendent of Home Missions, Dr. Bunt and the Chairman of the Properties Committee of the Vancouver Presbytery, Mr. R. E. Clugston. The moving of the church was approved, along with plans for its renovation and the construction of the extension; the cost of $9,000 was to be shared equally between the Home Mission Board and the local congregation. In February of 1951, Chris Nygard moved the church to its new location, and in April, Mr. Bill Smith began construction of a hall, eighteen by twenty-four feet. In addition to the hall, the new portion of the building included a small kitchen and washrooms.
On the first Sunday in May of 1952, Dr. Bunt officially dedicated the Squamish United Church, and set the new hall apart for Christian Education work. The Rev. Hewitt remained in Squamish to see growth of the Sunday School, and the beginning of C.G.I.T. and Explorer groups. On his retirement in 1955, he was succeeded by the Rev. A.O. McNeil. His arrival marked a new era in the life of the Squamish United Church. For the first time in the Church's history, the congregation assumed full responsibility for the minister's salary.
The 1950's saw Squamish change from a sleepy village at the head of Howe Sound to a rapidly expanding business and industrial community. With the completion of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway into North Vancouver in 1956, and the official opening of the connecting highway to Horseshoe Bay in August 1958, Squamish residents were only one hour away from the metropolitan area of Vancouver. What a refreshing change from the lengthy and tiresome boat trips of the past!
In the summer of 1958, the Rev. Norman Penrose and his young family came to Squamish. The minister and his congregation soon realised that a burgeoning population required larger church quarters. Sunday School attendance had increased to the point where additional accommodation had to be rented, and a new building was an urgent necessity. Thus, in February, 1962 the congregation appointed a building committee (William Boscariol, chair, Mrs. Eileen Walton (Kyle), Mrs. Freda Munro (Clarke), Jack Nelson and Norman Halvorson), and an architect (Mr. Frank Whitely) prepared a comprehensive plan for the future development of Squamish United Church.
Two additional lots, the third and fourth from the corner of Victoria St. and 4th Avenue, had been purchased and these were selected as the site for a new Christian Education Centre. A well organized campaign for funds yielded sufficient pledges and donations to warrant construction of the new building. Tenders were called. Outside bids were exorbitantly high, but Martin Halvorson's bid of $38,000 was gratefully accepted. Arrangements were made for loans from the bank and from the Board of Home Missions. The latter gave an outright grant of $5,000, and another $1,000 was donated by the MacMillan Foundation.
Construction began in March of 1963, and on September 8th of the same year the new building was officially opened, a tribute to the faith of Rev. Norman Penrose, Martin Halvorson and the congregation.
Members of the Ladies Alpha Unit were honoured at a luncheon in the garden of the N. Halvorson home in Brackendale. Seated, front row (left to right), are Mrs. D.D. Morrison, Mrs. G.S. Clarke and Mrs N. Hutchinson. Back row (left to right) are Mrs. A.L.A. Hankey, Mrs. E. Robertson, Mrs. T. Halvorson, Mrs. H. Buffrey, Mrs. E. Lamb, Mrs. E. Klontz, Mrs. A.R. Barr, Mrs. J. Knight, and Mrs. H.M. Wingfield.
The explosive changes of the post-war years had their effect on the membership of the Ladies Aid. In January of 1955, the name Ladies Aid was dropped, and the groups were renamed as members of the United Church Women's Association. Numbers had grown so rapidly that a new group of younger members was organized in November of 1955 in the shops area. It took the name of Jean Neil, one of the founding members in 1913.
During the latter part of 1956 and early 1957, the ladies raised money to complete the upstairs of the manse, providing the resident minister with a study and more bedroom space. In June of 1957, the Harmony Circle was formed in the downtown area, under the patronage of Mrs. A. O. McNeil, with Mrs. Ellen Harley as its first president. The original group of older ladies became the Alpha Circle. A Neighbourly Circle was formed on Hospital Hill, but loss of members led to its dissolution.
Members of the Harmony Unit (Anne Boscariol and Maureen Gilmour) preparing a gourmet invitational luncheon in aid of Brasilian refugees (March 1969)
In March of 1961, the various groups joined the Vancouver-Burrard Presbytery. In December of that year, the United Church Women's Association became the "United Church Women", with each group designated as a "Unit". Mrs. Ellen Harley was the first president of the coordinating executive. This was the year in which Mrs. D. D. Morrison was presented with life membership, in recognition of twenty-five years of dedicated service to the work of the church.
When the Christian Education Centre had been constructed, the ladies offered to plan and equip the kitchen. This attractive room has become a centre of fellowship for the women of the church.
In September of 1975 a group of young mothers formed a new unit, named after Barbara Mackenzie, a tribute to the minister's wife.
United Church Women Life Memberships.
1961 - Kay Morrison; 1977 - Alison Barr- Lisabeth Halvorson; 1978 - Mae Stack- Elsie Robertson; 1979 - Freda Clarke- Ellen Harley; 1983 - Mildred Campbell- Shirley Pudney; 1986 - Vera Moule- Evelyn Smith; 1988 - Shirley Saugstad
"To unite all women of the congregation for the total mission of the Church, and to provide a medium through which they may express their loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ in Christian Witness, Study, Fellowship and Service."
The ready access to Vancouver changed the habits of Squamish churchgoers. Members of the community tended to become a multitude of weekenders, and church services were changed from evening to morning. With increased weekend activities in the community, Church School attendance diminished. This difficulty was successfully overcome by holding a midweek Church School, in addition to the traditional Sunday morning classes.
Rev. Norman Penrose, his wife and their three children (the youngest, a daughter, was the first child ever born to a resident minister in Squamish) moved to Port Colborne, Ontario, in 1964. He was succeeded by the Rev. and Mrs. Harold Wingfield and their three daughters. By this time the manse, which had been the pride and joy of the ladies in the 1930's, was sadly in need of repair. A new manse seemed out of the question, as the mortgage on the Christian Education Centre had yet to be repaid. However, God DOES move in mysterious ways. Mrs. Harold Kyle (formerly Eileen Walton) offered her home on East Depot Road at an exceptionally low price The congregation endorsed the sale of the original manse, with the proceeds to be used to purchase Mrs. Kyle's former home, and in June of 1966, the Rev. and Mrs. Wingfield moved into their new home. The ladies of the U.C.W. assumed the task of renovating and furnishing the new manse. And, as in the past, this has been a continuing obligation. Through their efforts, the home of the minister and his family was well furnished and kept in good condition.
With the arrival of the Rev. and Mrs. Wayne MacKenzie and their children, the congregation began a concentrated effort to repay the outstanding mortgage. The sale of some timber on the manse property brought in a sizeable contribution towards this effort, as well as providing a larger open area around the building. At a farewell luncheon on June 22nd, 1975, the Rev. MacKenzie joyfully burned the mortgage. After twelve years, the Christian Education Centre was free of debt!
With the departure of the MacKenzies for Revelstoke, the Rev. Jack Lindquist and his wife and two small sons came from 100 Mile House to serve the congregation of Squamish United Church.
The policy of Squamish United Church has been to provide appropriate activities for young people throughout its history. Sunday School has been a traditional cornerstone of our church, but the church has also been involved in a variety of other groups. Beginning in 1921, Boy Scout and Cub packs were sponsored by the United Church, and they continued under its auspices until the Scout Movement became a community organization. However, the First Squamish Cub and Scout packs are still sponsored by the United Church.
Early in the 1950's, C.G.I.T. and Explorer groups attracted a large number of young girls. The organizer of the C.G.I.T. was Miss Eileen Ganong, who has appeared on church records as Mrs. Eileen Walton and more recently as Mrs. Eileen Kyle. When Girl Guides and Brownies became active, the two church groups were disbanded, as the community was not large enough to support both organizations.
Early in the 1960's, Mr. and Mrs. Harry McCulloch organized a group of teenagers who called themselves T.I.C.'s (Tuned-in-Christians). These young people met regularly and became an active and dedicated force in the life of our church. (i) the group on a cross-country bus trip with leaders Harry and Mary McCulloch, and helper Terry Aldridge, in 1972, (ii) Robin MacKenzie, Susan Wingfield, Diane LaPointe, Karen Oldfield and Vandy Stubbs trying out one of the tents, (iii) the group are give a triumphal welcome as they return home.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.