St Barnabas Anglican Church
March 30, 2008
Nowadays, churches are not as important in people’s lives as they were in the past, but for many people they are still spiritual places for worship, everyday support and community centres that keep good old and new traditions.
Our small, beautiful, wooden, church, one of the oldest ones in Vancouver, is situated in the heart of New Westminster. It’s more than a hundred years old, with a traditional interior and colourful Venetian windows. At dawn, they catch every sun beam, making the church especially festive and full of radiance.
Amplified by good acoustics, every sound in the church is clear and bright. When the church is empty, you can hear the cracking of old wood, as if somebody invisible is present. This sacred place was and continues to be a witness to many silent confessions, prayers, hopes and music. People mostly come to church when they are unhappy and spiritual places like our church never fail to lift their spirits.
A stranger may be surprised by the versatile charitable activities that small St. Barnabas church provides for people in addition to the Sunday worship services. I would say that most of the church’s work occurs during the week. With the help of a small group of wonderful people (church members and neighborhood activists) St. Barnabas leads several important programs for the people in need: Thursday Community Lunch that feeds about 120 people weekly, Friday Emergency Food Program, Bread Distribution, Community Advocacy, Thrift shop, and others.
The main principle of all activities is “All people are welcome.” St. Barnabas is well known and respected in the community for its unconditional charity. Being a non-profit organization, St. Barnabas exists and operates with the money donated by church members, community businesses and generous individuals during various fundraising events. Here, every cent matters, and it goes for the right purpose.
St. Barnabas is not only a place where people can find everyday help with food, clothes, or advice, it is also a social retreat that makes people’s lives happier and brighter. The church’s spacious hall and beautiful garden memorialize many fascinating events and traditions. The famous Christmas Dinner with its festive decoration, traditional menu, carols, nativity play and small presents for every guest gathers more than 100 people together.
Traditionally, the kitchen staff consists of friendly VIPs: MLAs, city counsellors and local celebrities. Performed by talented local musicians, the Annual Victorian Christmas Parlour concert always brings a special flavour to the season. During other different social gatherings such as “Crooners Café,” “Fun Neighbourhood Day”, or “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration,” members of the community can show their talents, have fun and enjoy good company.
As our priest, Mevis, says, “St. Barnbas is a place of a pilgrimage.” People come and go, but the church always remains. I hope that for many years to come it will continue helping people to find peace of mind, to overcome difficulties, and to celebrate happy days.