Quesnel’s St. Andrews United Church renovates sanctuary

In anticipation of 100th Anniversary celebrations, the church is a hive of tradespeople.

St. Andrew's renovated sanctuary.

St. Andrew's renovated sanctuary.

New linoleum!  New carpeting!  Refurbished pews!  What next?  I can’t remember when I’ve seen so much done in such a short time!  If you don’t believe me just check the photographs included with this article.

It all seems so clean and spruced up!  What I am “oohing and ahhing” about is the refurbishment of our church sanctuary at St. Andrew’s United Church.

Most of you must be aware by now that it is our 100th Anniversary this year!  Yes, we all like to celebrate in our own way our 100th birthday!  Sure there was a bit of inconvenience while the renovations were being done, but, just look at us now!  “Baby, you’ve come a long way!”

Roughly seven years ago we installed six stained glass windows.  That was the start in improving the look of our Sanctuary.  Now it seems like they have always been there.

The first one was donated by Ray Peebles and his family in memory of his wife and his family’s mother “Beth” (Elizabeth) which depicts Jesus teaching the children – in memory of the fact that Beth had spent many years as a Sunday School teacher.

After that, it just seemed the right thing to do –  adorn the other five windows with stained glass pictures.

First, the one dedicated to the late Ralph Scoullar by the congregation and his wife Ruth;  next, the scene in the vestibule depicting Joseph, Mary and the Christ-Child which was chosen and installed by Mrs. Hazel Gardner and her family, in memory of her husband and her son;  on the end wall facing Kinchant Street, the simple rendering of the Good Samaritan who interrupts his journey to help the traveler who has been set upon by thugs which was placed by Jack and Vicki Nelson in loving memory of their parents and in appreciation of their church family;  in the center pane the famous depiction of Christ, knocking at the door, awaiting entrance to peoples’ hearts “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”  that was given in loving memory of, and in tribute to, Rev. Robert (Bob) McPherson by his wife Doreen and their family.  Bob served this congregation for seven years and retired in Quesnel.

Our last window is based on the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, and depicts a woman in a garden of colourful flowers.  It was placed by Faith Austin and her family, in loving tribute and in memory of her daughter Holly Austin-Greer.

The service of dedication for all the windows was held April 17, 2005.  The artist, Ray Atkinson and family of Kamloops attended the dedication of the six windows.  We are grateful to all of these six families and to Mr. Atkinson for the loving tributes.

These colorful windows seem to blend right into the framework of the 1911 glass borders and the walls. They seem to have always been there.

At present we are without an ordained minister, so a number of individuals have grouped together into teams and we carry on despite being “without benefit of clergy.”   We are able to still have Communion services and, if necessary, baptisms, as we have periodic visits by ordained clergy, Rev. Paul Davis from Williams Lake and alternately, Rev. Rob Smith from Knox United in Prince George.  The rest of the time we rely on our four teams of congregation members, and sometimes other members of our Worship Committee, who capably and willingly lead us in worship.  It is with great admiration and appreciation that we thank these people for coming forth, and thus we are able to keep our sanctuary open on Sundays.

It’s three months until we have our commemorative 100th Anniversary service.  If you have artifacts, articles or photos etc., you think that we could use for display during the anniversary weekend, get in touch with the church secretary, Vicki Nelson, at the church office, 250-992-2313 or go to the office at 218 Kinchant Street.

Unfortunately, we have lost two very important committee members and they will really be missed; but we wish Julie Davenport and Jane Davenport all the best in their new endeavors.

During the sixties we would travel down to the West Coast Transmission community at the Yorston Ranch at Alexandria, to hold services.

We also had a Sunday School at the Red Bluff School, and, during Rev. Ken Moy’s time, in Baker elementary school in West Quesnel.

Our latest endeavours include holding services at Maeford Place, a seniors’ residence, and the Dunrovin Complex.

I have had quite a few phone calls and personal contacts asking me when I will be putting more of my “historical” articles in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer newspaper.  The purpose of my “historical articles” right now is to publicize that fact that St. Andrew’s United Church is celebrating a memorable Anniversary.  At 100 years, St. Andrew’s is the oldest building in Quesnel that is still being used for it’s original purpose.

I know, I know I will be getting back to the other stories after Nov. 19.

Just bear with me and thanks a lot for your patience and for waiting for more stories.

All the best!

On Nov. 20 a special display, service and dinner will be held at St. Andrew’s to commemorate the anniversary.

Some of the former congregants that I can remember are Clare and Flo Fuller, John A. and Lillian Fraser, A.J. “Pop” Elliott, Gladys Kelly, Jessie McLure, Ethel Yorston, Mr. and Mrs William Bourne, Mrs. Ethel Symington, Clem and Edna Tuck, Tom Richardson, Helen Robertson, Daisy Thibedeau, Phyll Peel, Paddy Sanders, Bob Brown, Don Hilborn, Dave and Kathleen Smith, Art and Beth Nelson and I am sure that you can come up with many more.

Any of these names sound familiar?

Perhaps they remind you of others.

Let us know.  Yes, it is a ways back I am afraid.

Jack Nelson is a member of St. Andrew’s United Church congregation and regular Observer contributor.