The First Sixty Years (1912 – 1977)
ST. THOMAS’ ANGLICAN CHURCH
1912 – 1977
THE FIRST SIXTY YEARS
As Compiled By
Mr. J. SLUGGETT
1912 – 1914
JANUARY 7TH – SUNDAY – The first service was conducted in the evening by the Venerable Archdeacon Pentreath, D.D., and the Rev. G.E.Wilson, M.A., with an attendance of 175. The collection amounted to $14.50.
JANUARY 12TH – FRIDAY – A Vestry meeting was held at 9 P.M., with the Rector of St. Michael’s presiding. The following members attended. Chairman – Mr.G.Stokes, as Rector’s Warden; Mr. S.Gunning, People’s Warden; Mrs.S.Gunning; Mr. & Mrs. P.Shone; Mr. & Mrs. R.B. Tompson; Messrs. T.Talbot, G.E.Raynor, A. Gittins, T.West, B.Edwards, and W.T. Clarke.
CHURCH COMMITTEE; Messrs. W.T. Clarke, R.B. Tompson, and T. Talbot.
JANUARY 14TH – SUNDAY – First Sunday School held with 31 scholars present. Supt. Mr.W.T.Clarke
JANUARY 29TH – First Marriage – William Walter Cornish and Alice Agnes Allen, with the Rev. G.H. Wilson officiating.
FEBRUARY 4TH _ SUNDAY – First Baptismal Service held, when the following were enrolled: Lillian Cleasby, Emmeline Wooley, Elizabeth Jan McCall, Mary Knight and Harold Boyce.
FEBRUARY 8TH – W.A. President, Mrs M.E. Thompson.
First Dedication Service by the Right Reverend A.U. de Pencier, Lord Bishop of New Westminster, assisted by the Rev. G.H. Wilson. Choirmaster – Mr. A. Gittins.
APRIL 10TH – First Easter Vestry meeting. The regular Services average attendance was 50, and 20 Communicants.
1914 – 1916
NOVEMBER 27th – 1914 – The Rev. J.D.MacKenzie-Naughton was appointed as the first rector at St. Thomas’ Church on this date. Archdeacon F.C.C. Heathcote officiating, and other clergy in attendance were: the Rev. J.O. Nurse of St. Luke’s, the Rev. W.H. Vance, Principal of Latimer Hall, and the Rev. G.H. Wilson.
JANUARY 1916 – The Rev. J.D. McKenzie-Naughton accepted the call to become Rector of St. Luke’s Church, Victoria, B.C.
1916 The Rev. L.C.Luckraft accepted the offer to become Rector of St. Thomas’ Church in this year, and in January of 1918, he was asked by the Bishop to take over the work at St. Luke’s Church in addition to St. Thomas’ – (St. Luke’s being vacant). This was not considered very satisfactory by the congregation of St. Thomas’. In the spring of 1920, the Rev. L.C. Luckraft tendered his resignation as Rector of St. Thomas’ after four years’ service.
(The following article written by the Rev. L.C. Luckraft in 1946 for his “History of St. Thomas’ Parish” contains a general picture of the existing conditions during the period of his incumbency. It is a summary of events in his own words. – Editor J.Sluggett)
“It is now almost 30 years since I was appointed as Incumbent to St. Thomas’, South Vancouver. This fact will serve as an excuse for being somewhat hazy in regard to some of the events of those days. There was one over-riding factor which, to a large extent, determined all that we did, or attempted to do. We were at war with Germany and the Central Powers – the effects were felt in every direction. A large proportion of our menfolk were away at the Front. We were all desperately poor because trade was bad, for few war contracts had come to Vancouver.
The Municipality of South Vancouver went bankrupt, and the City itself barely escaped the same fate. More than half the shops in the neighbourhood were closed, and houses could be rented for as small a sum as anyone was willing to pay.
Things touched bottom in 1919, and then began to take a turn for the better. Men returned from the Front, more money began to circulate, the shops began to open, and just before I left, I learned that a Bank was going to open a branch office near Victoria and 41st Ave.
If the above is kept in mind, it will explain much. I was in Deacon’s Orders when I was first appointed to the Parish, and was Priested almost immediately – I soon found that I was confronted with limitations of every kind. There was little or no money; all social activities had to take place in one room; we felt the absence of our men at every turn, but we had big ideas. We debated at length about erecting a Sunday School building on the, then, uncleared “lots”. Moreover, the Diocese had informed us that the Annual Grant of $400.00 toward my stipend could no longer be made.
I have already indicated that we were sorely in need of a place for social events, and finally solved the problem, for a time at least, by hiring an empty shop on the street on which the trams ran, and which I believe was Victoria Street. We made some seats by our own labours, (and therefore, of various degrees of reliability). I distinctly remember some very successful socials in this shop, and indeed, the last one I attended, was the Farewell party at which I said “Good-bye” to a very wonderful band of workers.
I do not think I ought to finish this resume of events which took place so long ago, without paying special tribute to the little group of women who formed our W.A. We lived in hard times, but the more difficult they were, the more this little band of people rallied around their Church. In addition, I might say that I became conscious of the fact that they were fully aware of the Rector’s personal problems as well. I shall never forget the baby shower the W.A. arranged when my son Rex, was born. He is now a Chaplain in His Majesty’s Navy”.
The records of the Parish do not clearly indicate when the arrangement with St. Luke’s terminated, but in the Spring of 1920 the Rev. L.C. Luckraft tendered his resignation, after serving the Parish for four years. With the consent of the Church Committee, the Bishop offered to cable the Rev. J.E. Godsmark, who was holidaying in England at the time, asking him to take over St. Thomas’.
1920 – 1924
MAY 1920 – The Rev. J.E. Godsmark accepted the Bishop’s offer and began his duties as the third Rector of St. Thomas’ at this time. In February of 1924, the Rector announced his resignation from the Parish, stating that he was returning to England. It will bring back memories to reprint his farewell letter which runs as follows:
Dear Fellow-workers, Today, I must pen my last letter to you. It is impossible to do so without some degree of emotion, for the feeling is heavy upon me that fellowships which have been ripening during the past four years are near their visible close, and soon memory images and fireside phantasies will take the place of physical contact. Like you, I feel that touch of loneliness that creeps over the spirit when links of affection are about to be severed, and yet, in all our hearts there is that adventurous expectation over what the future holds.
During the past four years, we have seen many come and go. Now and then, movements have been initiated, some still hold the field. It always takes time to discover in what particular direction vitality is most manifest. We are glad to hear from various sources of the help and Blessing, St. Thomas’ Church has been to them, and, in particular, the reverential way God is worshipped in our midst. Our strength has been in endeavouring to keep in direct line with the will of God.
We have humbly striven to build up believers, to save the lost and indifferent, and present a Saviour whose grace is sufficient for every need. No Church can fail where these aims are predominate.
You and I know something of what Christian service is. It has not been our lot to work among crowds of people, but to carry on amongst a few. Our work has often been a struggle, and perhaps will be a struggle. Many a time, we have been tired and have wondered; oh! yes, we have wondered whether it was worth it; what a temptation there has been to follow the line of least resistance. Our Master, in the days of His flesh, sat often alone with His thoughts. Things seemed very hopeless at times, but one thing He did not forget, and that was that hopeless things were merely the husks which concealed bright potentialities. If only we can remember that we are “workers together with Him” – that we are the human partners in the “King’s business”, that the work is His; that He provides the capital and we draw the interest, and that our humble, unselfish service transmutes that interest into personal capital, and that this treasure is stored where “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt”, we shall still find joy and privilege in that service. No true Christian service is without Divine co-operation. This co-operation puts an abiding quality into our humble Christian needs. As no spoken word which has God in it can ever be in vain, so no action which has the Kingdom of God in view can be unblessed. In Boston, there is a monument of Bishop Phillips Brooks – he is represented there, as standing in his pulpit with uplifted right hand, his left hand pointed to the Bible, whilst behind him, Christ is standing in the same pulpit, His hand resting on His servants shoulder. It must be ever so, Christ co-operating with His servant. Is it not the same with you and me? That same hand is always upon our shoulder as we strive in our humble capacity to share the burden of Christ’s great work.
By labouring in our own Parish, we believe we are fulfilling the spirit of beginning at Jerusalem. So, let us think of the hand of Christ ever upon our shoulder as we go forth labouring. We may expect blessings wherever God’s glory is sought; whatever the ministry we are engaged in, whether Sunday School, Choral, Missionary, W.A., Juvenile, Cub or social. We may feel sure that a Divine hand is upon us when our affections are on the end, and are not absorbed by the means.
Our Church has not yet reached its zenith. At Present, we see only its foundation. Many of you will be here to see it self-supporting and the building enlarged; a Rectory built; the congregation trebled; and certain of its young men and women offering themselves for life service in a wider field. This district is growing rapidly, and many Church families are moving into the Parish. The harvest one day will be truly plenteous. If you are not here to reap, be sure you sow beside all waters; perhaps you, in your apparently insignificant way, are a pivot upon which a larger work depends. Let us be faithful, whatever our hands find to do, let us do it with all our might.
May God richly bless you all, and help you to discover gleams of glory in the commonplace, and anoint your eyes to see in humble Church duties the fabric of Emmanuel’s garments. Affectionately yours, “James E. Godsmark”
1924 – 1928
In the late spring of 1924 the Rev. W.W. Williams, Rector of the Anglican Church at Princeton, was appointed by Archbishop A.U. de Pencier, as the successor to the Rev. J.E.Godsmark. His induction as the fourth Rector of St. Thomas’ took place on May 18th, with the Archdeacon F.C.C. Heathcote officiating. His first contact with the Parish, however, was in the year 1911, when he joined with a group of men from St. Michaels to clear the scrub and stumps off the proposed site for the future St. Thomas’ Church.
During the next three years, 1924 to 1927, the following improvements were made: A Notice Board was placed at Victoria Drive; a Flagon donated by Henry Birks & Co.; a badminton club, and a girls gym club organized. The chancel was completed, and a new roof put on the Church, a concrete foundation under the church itself, and the members of the W.A. were financially responsible for the installing of a new heating plant.
In 1927 the Parish became self supporting, and a house at 5743 St. Margaret’s Street was rented for a Rectory.
In April 1928, Mr. Williams felt that the time had come to make change, and after earnest prayer and guidance in the matter, he announced his resignation, stating that he was returning with his wife and family to England.
In his farewell letter through the monthly magazine,he writes thus – “This will probably be the last letter that I shall be privileged to write to you, as my charge of this Parish will cease before the next issue is printed. I appeal for the same loyalty and kindness to my successor and his family, whom I am sure you will soon learn to love.
The very greatest encouragement you can give to your Rector is a full Church for the worship of God. The greatest discouragement is your empty pew. You may load him down with personal gifts and kindness, yet break his heart with indifference to vital things. He longs to see you enjoy your religion, and to enter upon the secret joy of a truly spiritual life in union with the Risen Lord – a life of victory and peace. “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.” “Ye in me and I in you.” “Lo, I am with you always.” Do you know what these words of our Lord really mean? The Christian religion is not a faith only, a creed, a mere ethical thing, it is a life. This is the Easter message – “Jesus is Risen” – He has triumphed over all the forces of evil, and the grave is not the end. “I know that my Redeemer lives, O, the sweet joy this sentence gives!”, and how this fact sets everything in its right place, and reveals the true value of things. Truly, a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesses for “what shall a man profit if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Easter should cause each one of us to ask ourselves, ” what is my religion worth to me:” Do I look at everything in the light of the Resurrection life? Have I entered upon the Resurrection life now, with its inner calmness, joy and peace? Am I living in conscious union with my Risen Lord, and Master and Friend? “If ye then be risen with Christ” says St. Paul, “seek these things which are above – set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” This is the secret of the real Christian – peace and happiness, and the joy which our Lord said “No man taketh from you.” May this be our increasing experience as Easter follows Easter.”
And so, another chapter in the history of St. Thomas’ Parish was brought to a close.
1928 – 1938
The fifth Rector of St. Thomas’ Parish was the Rec. W.E. Gilbert. In May 1928, while in the Parish of All Saints’, Ladner, letters were received from Mr. A Owens, Honorary Secretary of St.Thomas’ Church Committee, and from Mrs. L. Hunt, Honorary Secretary of St. Thomas’ W.A., extending a hearty invitation to the Rev. W.E. Gilbert and his family to the Parish.
Soon after their arrival, a congregational reception was held, when addresses of welcome were given by the Venerable Archdeacon Heathcote, Rural Dean G.H. Wilson, the Rev. J.Leigh, Mrs. E.M. Jackson, President of the W.A., and Mr. T. West, President of the National Laymen’s Committee. A program was rendered under the direction of Mr. A. Edge, Organist and Choirmaster, with Mr. J.E. Kent, Sunday School Superintendent as Chairman.
The Anniversaries of the Church were marked with special services and social gatherings. The 25th Anniversary (The Silver Jubilee) was celebrated in January 1937, when the Church, through two voluntary contributions, was made entirely free of debt. The special guest speakers at the Silver Jubilee services and the Anniversary supper included the Archdeacon, the Rural Dean, Bishop Sovereign, neighbouring Clergy, and Professor J. Friend Day. On this occasion, the supper and table decorations were in charge of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Evans and Mrs.D. Wainwright. The two tier anniversary cake was made by Mrs. J. Bindloss, cut by Mrs. H.Yates-Davies, and distributed by Miss L.Cleasby. Many old timers were present an this red-letter day, amongst whom were Mrs.R.H.Gunning, and Mr. & Mrs. H.W. Laffere. The Wardens – Messrs. E.P. Fox and A.J. Evans, expressed thanks and appreciation to all who had made the 25th anniversary such a great success.
In the early spring of 1938, the Rector, having served the Parish for 10 years, announced his resignation. Farewell services were held on Sunday, March 20th. Members of the Composite Lodge,A.F. and A.M., where the Rector was Chaplain, attended in a body.
The congregational farewell social was held on the following Wednesday, when the Wardens, Messrs. H. Thompson and W.J. Hodgson, on behalf of the members of the congregation, presented the Rector and Mrs. Gilbert with suitable gifts which were very much appreciated, as were the many kindly words spoken. Lovely presentations from members of the A.Y.P.A. and other organizations, as well as a number of private gifts, were gratefully received by the Rector and his wife on leaving for Powell River, B.C., their new field of labour.
1938 – 1943
Early in 1938 Archbishop A.U. de Pencier arranged for an exchange of Parishes between Rev. W.E. Gilbert, then Rector of St. Thomas’, and the Rev. R.E.W. Biddell of Powell River, with the result that the new Rector took over his duties on May 31st, 1938.
The large home on 39th Avenue and Victoria Drive which had been rented for a Rectory, was found to be somewhat unsuitable, and through the kind and energetic efforts of Mr.W.J. Hodgson, a more suitable and convenient house was rented at 2495 East 41st Avenue, from Mrs. E.S. Robinson – into this house, one block from the Church, the Rector moved two weeks later.
The following extract is taken from an article written by Rev. Biddell, for this “History of St. Thomas’ Parish” –
“No name in the Parish is above that of Mr. W.H. Percy, who gave unstintingly of his time to Sunday School work during the entire five years of my Incumbency. Fe has taken a tremendous load off my shoulders in his position of Sunday School Superintendent. He made a great contribution to the building up of one of the most important departments of Church life. I feel I ought to bracket with Mr. Percy, another parishioner, in the person of Mr. A. Edge, who in his office as Organist and Choirmaster has contributed so efficiently and devotedly of his time and talent to keep the Church music at such a high standard for so many years. His good wife, Queenie, the former Miss F. Hoare, whom he married in 1942, did a most valuable work in organizing and training the Junior Choir till ill health obliged her to discontinue her services in this respect.
On December 8th, 1942, the Right Rev. Sir F.C.C. Heathcote who had succeeded Archbishop dePencier as Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, suggested the linking up of St. Thomas’ Parish with St. Margaret’s, Cedar Cottage. This proposed plan did not materialize.”
Finding the Parish work far too difficult, the Rector applied for superannuation, and it was granted as from January 1st,1943. Mr. Biddell agreed to continue conducting the Sunday Services until a successor could be appointed.
This arrangement proved satisfactory to all, and on Easter Sunday, April 2nd, 1943, he concluded his ministry as Rector of St. Thomas’ Parish. During his term of office, he states that he had the most loyal co-operation from all members of the Church organizations and of the congregation as a whole, and deeply regretted the necessity of stepping down.
At this point, the Church had just passed its 31st Anniversary and another chapter was about to begin.
1943 – 1951
Thus it was, that on Saturday afternoon, May 1st, 1943, Mr. Frank Butler unlocked the doors at 2495 East 41st Avenue, and unpacked his books.
On Sunday, May 9th, Mr. Butler was ordained Deacon in Christ Church Cathedral – the sermon that occasion being preached by Canon H.P.Barrett of Chilliwack.
Two weeks later, the Rector was married to Miss Fay M. Hansen of Bradner, in which Parish he had served as a student. The Bishop performed the ceremony, and many of the Rector’s clerical friends were also present. Early in June, a reception was held in St. Thomas’ Parish Hall, when the Rector and his wife were officially welcomed by the members of the congregation.
In the spring of 1945 the Rectory was commenced by the contractor, Mr. J. Pettit, a member of St. James” Parish, who lived in the Parish.
In June of 1944, the Rev. F. Butler was priested in Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster, on which occasion the sermon was preached by the Right Rev. H.R. Ragg, Bishop of Calgary.
The following letter id the Rector’s final message to the Parishioners, as taken from Church magazine, August, 1951
For the past eight years I have sent forth a little message to you through the medium of our Church magazine. This is the last time that I shall write you as Rector of St. Thomas!
The Time has now come when those of us who have lived together, and learned to know and to love one another, have reached the parting of the ways. We can no longer travel along together as Rector and Congregation. We must go, you to one path, and I to another, but even though we may be separated in body, I trust that we shall often be together in Spirit for
“There is this place where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend;
Though sunder far, by faith we meet
Around one common mercy seat.”
“As most of you know, St. Thomas’ was my first charge after my Ordination. It was here, in this Parish, that my wife and I began our married life together. It was here that our daughter, Rosalie, was born, and therefore, St. Thomas’ will hold memories for us that will remain for ever dear to our hearts. However much we may love various places on earth, there are a few, not many, that are forever sacred. The place where one has loved and laboured for eight years will be one of those spots.
“I would like to pass on to you some verses which I quoted in my first Pastoral letter in May, 1943, hoping that you will use them as a prayer.
“God grant us wisdom in these coming days,
And eyes unsealed, that we clear visions see
Of that new world that He would have us build
In earth’s ennoblement, and His high Ministry.
Not in our own might can we hope to rise
Above the ruts, and failures of the past
But with His help, who did this first earth build
With hearts courageous, we may build the last.”
“How shall I bid you farewell? May we not take the words in which the great Apostle, St. Paul bade farewell to those whom he loved? ‘for this cause we – – do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge if His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good cheer, comfort one another, be of one mind, live in peace. I commend you to God, and to the words of His grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” Good-bye. God bless you. Your friend and Rector, F.Butler”
1951 – 1956
In October, 1951, the Rev. C.W.Bryce, L.Th., was appointed by the Bishop to succeed the Rev. Frank Butler, as Rector of St.Thomas’ Church. During the time that he served as Rector, another chapter began in the history of the Parish.
Many new homes were being built in the district at that time and it soon became evident that the Church and Hall were inadequate to meet the needs of the growing Parish. Under the vigorous leadership of Mr. Bryce, efforts were made to clean up the debt on the Rectory, and to make the Parish self-supporting. With the whole hearted support of a loyal congregation this was soon accomplished. The Rector then turned his efforts to the building of an extension to the present Church, and of a new Parish Hall.
A building committee was appointed to consult with the Bishop and the Executive Committee of the Diocese, with the view to obtaining their permission, as well as to ask for a substantial loan of money to enable the Parish to proceed with the work immediately. Permission and loan were soon granted, and plans were drawn up by Mr. Lort, the architect, which were soon approved by both Diocese and Parish.
Early in 1955 the building programme was started, and on June 15th, of the same year, the Bishop dedicated the Renovated Church and the new Parish Hall, thus giving us adequate accommodation for the growing needs of the Parish. This gave the congregation a new enthusiasm. and the work of the Church proceeded with renewed interest.
Unfortunately, in May of 1956, Mr.Bryce, after giving four and a half years of enthusiastic leadership, announced his intention to resign in order to accept a position as Chaplain in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
1956 – 1963
Mr.Bryce was succeeded by our present Rector, the Rev. A.L.Davies, who came to St. Thomas’ Parish at the end of June, 1956.
The task entrusted to him was that of continuing the work so ably done by his predecessor.
During the past five and a half years several items of Church furnishings have been placed in the Church. These include a new Oak Altar, Credence Table, Altar Rail in both the Church and the side Chapel. New pews have been place along the side aisles.
An Altar Guild, Men’s Club and Junior Choir have been organized and Guides and Brownies added to the already large number of youth organizations.
During this time the large debt on the loan, which at the end of June 1956 amounted to $38,000.00 was reduced by $21,000.00; thus leaving us with the sum of $17,000.00 yet to be raised.
As we look back over the past fifty years, we can say with thankfulness, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” and with the continued prayers and loyal support of every member of the Parish Family we can look forward with confidence to years of continued witness for God in this district.
May the spirit of enthusiasm and devotion, which has been so evident in the past, continue in the years that are ahead.
HISTORY UPDATE FOR 65TH ANNIVERSARY
The Parish of St.Thomas – Sixty Fifth Anniversary
(1912 – 1977)
The history of St. Thomas is an inspiring story of many “ups” and “downs”, many struggles and triumphs during its first sixty five years. It would take a very large volume to do justice to the hard work and faithful devotion of all those through the years who have helped make St. Thomas what it is today. We humbly thank God for each one of them.
Planning began in the fall of 1911 under the leadership of the Rev. G.H.Wilson, rector of St. Michael’s Church. Mr. W.T. Clarke donated some lots at the corner of St. Margarets Street and Janes Road (now 41st Avenue). The building materials were also donated and much of the labour given voluntarily. The remaining costs were covered by a mortgage of $700.00.
The Church building was sufficiently advanced to hold the first service on January 7, 1912. The attendance that Sunday was 175 and the offering amounted to $14.50. The average attendance at regular services during the early months was fifty, twenty of whom were communicants.
The first rector, the Rev. J.D. MacKenzie-Naughten, was inducted on November 17, 1914, on a stipend of $900.00 per annum; half of which came from the Diocese and the Parish of St. Michael.
The Parish has had twelve rectors in sixty one years:
1914-1916 Rev. J.D. MacKenzie-Naughten
1916-1920 Rev. L.C. Luckraft
1920-1924 Rev. J.E. Godsmark
1924-1928 Rev. W.W. Williams
1928-1938 Rev. W.E. Gilbert
1938-1943 Rev. R.E.W. Biddell
1943-1951 Rev. Frank Butler
1951-1956 Rev. C.W. Bryce
1956-1963 Rev. A.L. Davies
1963-1969 Rev. E.D. Eldridge
1969-1972 Rev. L.O. Curran
1972-1974 Rev. T.M. Burke
Canon C.E. Reeve served as Priest-in-Charge for 7 months in 1975
The rector, Rev. Eric Lowe was inducted on October 1 1975
During World War I, the Bishop endeavoured to combine the parishes of St. Thomas and St. Luke under one rector; but this was strongly resisted by members of St.Thomas. Finally, the Bishop agreed to appoint the Rev. L.C. Luckraft as rector of St.Thomas alone, but later on, at a time of emergency, he also took on responsibility for St. Lukes. The Parish of St. Thomas struggled on through a particularly difficult period during those war years. The Municipality of South Vancouver went bankrupt. More than half the shops in the neighbourhood were closed, but things began to brighten up somewhat by 1919.
In the 1920’s a Sunday School building was erected, the chancel was completed, the Church re-roofed and placed on a cement foundation, and a new heating plant was installed. The Parish became debt-free by the time the twenty-fifth anniversary was celebrated in 1937.
The Parish did not own a rectory for many years, but continued to rent a house for the rector. In 1945 the present rectory was built on the strength of borrowed money. The mortgage on this was burned by Bishop Gower on January 21, 1953.
In 1953 St. Thomas Parish embarked on an ambitious program to build a new Parish Hall and enlarge the Church at a total estimated cost of $53,000.00. The Diocese kindly gave a grant of $5,000.00 towards this and also a large loan. The enlarged Church and new Parish Hall were dedicated by Bishop Gower on June 15, 1955. The final payment on this loan was made in 1967 as a special Centennial project, and on December 3 of that year the Church was consecrated by Bishop Gower. A pipe organ had been installed at a cost of $4,00.00 in 1963 as a special fiftieth anniversary project.
In the 1950’s a new neighbouring Parish developed – St. Timothy’s. This closed in 1971 and a number of its members joined St. Thomas Church, bringing new strength to our Parish.
Now in 1977 we are again involved in a major renovations program to the Church, Parish Hall and Rectory, at a cost of about $43,000.00. We anticipate a total of $23,500.00 towards this from the Federal Government, under the Canada Works Program. This leaves our Parish responsible for $19,500.00, and through the magnificent support of parishioners, we are almost half-way towards this target, as of September 1977.
But the Church is people and not buildings! While we are most grateful for newly renovated and excellent facilities for our Parish activities, the real wealth of our Parish lies in the people who comprise our Parish Family.
A few statistics from our 1976 records will interest you and will also indicate something of the challenge which still confronts us in this community:
Families on the Parish List 144
Individuals not included in Families on Parish List 60
Average Sunday attendance 8:00 am 8.6
10:00 am 105.4
Number of sets of envelopes used in 1976 95
Income for 1976 $33,812.07
Budget for 1977 $37,615.00
There have been innumerable changes in our Parish and community over these sixty-five years. Our personnel and our methods have changed. But our message, ministry and mission remain unchanged. Perhaps these can best be summed up in the following words from the farewell message of a former rector, the Rev. J.E. Godsmark:
“We have humbly striven to build up believers, to save the lost and indifferent, and present a Saviour whose grace is sufficient for every need. No Church can fail where these aims are predominate. In Boston, there is a monument of Bishop Phillips Brooks – he is represented there, as standing in his pulpit with uplifted right hand, his left hand pointed to the Bible, whilst behind him, Christ is standing in the same pulpit, His hand resting on His servants shoulder. It must be ever so, Christ co-operating with His servant. Is it not the same with you and me? That same hand is always upon our shoulder as we strive in our humble capacity to share the burden of Christ’s great work.“