Skidegate United Church celebration

  • Apr. 27, 2009 5:00 a.m.

Submitted article–Skidegate United Church launched its 35th / 125th Anniversary Celebrations last weekend with a workbee, a special worship service rededicating the church, and an Anniversary Tea to gather and share the history of the building and the people who have made it possible. Three days of beautiful sunshine just added to the buoyant spirit of the events.The present church building was opened April 28,1974, thus the 35th anniversary. Warren Hamill, a former resident of Tlell, was the architect and builder. He and his partner Barbara McLean, formerly of Masset, were able to come and celebrate with the church and community. Warren’s reflections on the journey to design and complete the church and reminiscences about the people involved with him added a very personal element during the worship service. People commented about how well the design works for so many kinds of gatherings: simple beauty, a feeling of warmth and welcome in the wood and shape, good acoustics and so on.The 125th Anniversary commemorates the establishment of a Christian community or congregation in Skidegate to worship through song and prayer, to educate, and to care for the needs of the people. Gedanst, chosen by his grandfather, a great Skidegate chief, to be his successor, was visiting Victoria at the age of 16. He became convinced by the Christian teachings he heard there and was baptized, taking the name Amos Russ. He vowed to bring this message to his people, stating simply, “I am here to serve the Lord.” He studied to prepare himself, and together with his wife Agnes, also very capable and committed, they worked hard to establish a strong Christian congregation in their community. Amos’ son-in-law, Peter Kelly, became an ordained Methodist minister in 1920, and was a strong leader in the Skidegate church and community. The anniversary workbee included improvements to wet-proof the walkway (with thanks to the Men’s Group and Mooney Pearson), flower boxes for the entryway (thanks to Ron, Nancy and Eric), installation of a new ceiling fan (thanks to Lanny Turk), and painting the bell tower (which required brave men to be bucketed aloft by a lift-truck, thanks to Jim Pazarena).A labyrinth was created in the grassy area beside the church, outlined with white shells and rocks. More shells are needed to complete the outline, so bring a few along when you come to walk it. Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years around the world as a form of walking prayer or meditation. You’re welcome to stop by and try it out; an information leaflet is available or you can call Vicki at 559-4559.The celebration included a Hymn Sing Tuesday April 28 to mark the actual date, with rousing singing by the people, as well as special guest musicians. The church plans to keep on celebrating throughout the year, so watch for upcoming events.