our history

 

Saint Thomas Anglican Church was built on its present site over 100 years ago, and has been a gathering place for Christian worship, spiritual nurture, and outreach ever since.

 

The parish welcomed its first rector in 1914, and soon had to construct a Sunday School building to accommodate the growing number of families joining the congregation. In 1955, St. Thomas celebrated the completion of an expansion to the church building and the opening of the church hall which stands today.

1911

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Planning
January 1 

Planning began in the fall under Rev. G.H. Wilson of St Michael’s Church. Mr. W.T. Clarke donated a plot at the corner of St. Margarets Street and Janes Road (now 41st Ave). Building materials were also donated and most of the labour given voluntarily. Any remaining costs were covered by a mortgage of $700.

1912

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First service held
January 7

The first service was held on a Sunday evening and attended by 175 people. It was conducted by Venerable Archdeacon Pentreath, D.D. and Rev. G.E.Wilson, M.A. The collection amounted to $14.50. The average attendance at regular services during the early months was fifty, twenty of whom were communicants.

a series of firsts
January 12

Vestry meeting at 9pm with Rector of St. Michaels presiding.

January 14

First Sunday school held with 31 students

January 29

Vestry meeting at 9pm with Rector of St. Michaels presiding.

February 4

First Baptismal service held, the following were baptized:

Lillian Cleasby, Emmeline Wooley, Elizabeth Jan McCall, Mary Knight, & Harold Boyce

February 8

First dedication service by Right Rev A.U. de Pencier, Lord Bishop of New Westminster, assisted by Rev G.H.Wilson. Choirmaster Mr. A. Gittins

April 10

First Easter vestry meeting, the regular services average attendance was 50 people and 20 communicants

1914

World war one
January 1 

The parish went through a particularly difficult period during those war years. The Municipality of South Vancouver went bankrupt and more than half the shops in the neighbourhood were closed. Things did begin to brighten somewhat by 1919; the men returned from the Front, more money began to circulate and the shops began to re-open.

First Rector appointed
November 27

During WW1 the Bishop endeavoured to combine the parishes of St Thomas and St Luke under one rector which was strongly resisted by the members of St Thomas. In the end, the Bishop appointed Rev. L.C. Luckraft as the sole rector of St Thomas and later on, during a time of emergency, he did take responsibility for St Luke.

1914 - 1975

Rectors of the first sixty years
January 1 

*Willams first contact with the parish was in 1911, when he joined a   group from St. Michaels to clear the land for the building site

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

1975

Priest-in-Charge for 7 mo. Canon C.E. Reeve

1975 Oct, 1

Rev Eric Lowe

*Bryce resigned in order to accept a position as Chaplain in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces

1920

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Building improvement

During the 1920’s a new 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.

1937

silver jubilee
January 7

The parish celebrated it 25th anniversary in 1937. St Thomas also became debt-free this year.

1945

a new rectory

In 1927, the parish became self-supporting and, for many years, rented a house for the rector. In 1945, a rectory was built on the current site using borrowed money. The mortgage was burned by Bishop Gower on Jan 21, 1953.

1955

church renovations
June 15

In 1953 the parish began the planning of a new parish hall and enlargement of the church with a total estimated cost of $53,000. The Diocese graciously gave a grant of $5,000 and also a large loan. In early 1955, the building programme was started and the building dedicated on June 15th by Bishop Gower.

The church was consecrated by Bishop Gower on December 3rd.

1962

50th anniversary
January 7

The parish celebrated its 50th anniversary. A pipe organ was installed in 1963 as a special fiftieth anniversary project at a cost of $400.

1965

Foster children program
January 7

Saint Thomas begins a foster children program

1971

amalgamation of
st timothy & st thomas

In the 1950’s a new neighbouring parish, St. Timothy’s, developed. This closed down in 1971 and a number of its members joined St Thomas.

1977

65th anniversary
January 7

In the parish’s 65th anniversary year, major renovations were done to the church, parish hall and the rectory.

1980

construction

The parish's existing rectory was demolished

1980

new instruments

In 1983, a new Yamaha piano was acquired.

In 1985, Archbishop Hambridge dedicated a Rodgers Organ, replacing the cherished pipe organ.

1977

75th anniversary
January 7

1992

75th anniversary
September 1

The current rectory was built and occupied in September of 1992.

1999

Renovations

Additional renovations made to the worship space.

2018

Accessibility project begins
March

Start of renovations to update the building making it more accessible to all communities. Planned improvements include an elevator accessing all floors, commercial grade kitchen and accessible washrooms. 

During this time St. Thomas' worships at First Lutheran Church who generously allowed St. Thomas to celebrate the Anglican Rite every second Sunday.

2019

Move to Southview terrace
February

As the renovation timeline gets extended, the parish moves into Southview Terrace for Sunday service. Wednesday service continues to be at First Lutheran.

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Finished Renovations
November 24 

After almost two years of renovations the accessibility project is finished and parishioners are back in the building. The day was celebrated with a toast and cake.  

2020

Covid-19 pandemic
May 3

In accordance with provincial guidelines the parish building was closed and worship is taken online using Zoom and livestreaming.

Good Neighbours award
April 6

The Association of Neighbourhood House's of BC and the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House awards St. Thomas the 2020 corporate Good Neighbour Award.

Back in the Building
August 30

First Sunday back in the building as a parish as Covid-19 provincial restrictions are relaxed by the Province and the Diocese.