Above: Photo by C.W.Jeffery, Nov. 2099
Parish of Port Hill celebrates Milestone
WEST PRINCE GRAPHIC
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 5:00 am
Through song, prayer and worship members of the Anglican Parish of Port Hill came together to celebrate the parish's 175th anniversary.
The hour and half combined service held on July 24 at the Old St James Church in Port Hill meant no pew was empty in the small church.
“We are celebrating the parish and all its people down through the generations who have made this parish what it is and brought their hearts, love, compression, fun and laughter and shedding tears in time of death and mourning. It’s all those things that have come and strengthen it,” said Reverend Ann Bush, who has been leading the parish for the last four years.
The parish is made up of three churches. While Old St James was built in 1841, known then as the Old Shipbuilders Church, and the cemetery at the church being in use at least since the 1851, the perish built the New St James Church directly across the road from the former in 1885 and now serves as the main church in the area.
In 1851, a small church was built at Foxley River just behind where the present day St Peter’s Church was later constructed in 1914. Then after 10 years of planning and construction, St John’s Church in Ellerslie was built in 1899.
“In this day and age where everything is instant and transiency … to think of something that’s lasted this long simply because of people’s willingness to serve and care, that’s why I think it’s important and that’s what it means to me,” said Rev Bush about the parish and its milestone.
When concerns grew in the early 2000’s about the safety of the original church and the parish not in a financial position to do the necessary repairs, Old St James was deconsecrated as a sacred building in order to access government grants.
Old St James Church is now run as a heritage and genealogy centre, but Rev Bush said she tries to have at least one service a year at the church.
“People appreciate just being able to come into this church and still sing to the glory of God and feel they are sharing divine worship,” said Rev Bush.
Among those attending the service was Marnie Noye, who has a special connection to Old St James.
Ms Noye was born and raised in the house next door to the church and its cemetery.
Ms Noye told the congregation when she got up with her husband Harold to play some music for everyone how she remembered the doors to the church were never locked and as a child she used to play in the building.
“We were very dedicated members. We never miss going to church. That was just a given on Sunday morning,” said Ms Noye about her family later on, adding she only knew the old church as the place where she attended Sunday school.
Ms Noye said the anniversary service was special.
“Both the old and new St James are very dear to my heart,” she said.
During her reflection to her parishioners, Rev Bush expressed that churches are more than just their wooden structures.
“Often there is a lot of worry and concern in fundraising to keep buildings maintained and we have to remember those things will rot away, but God wants us to put most of our efforts and attention building up our lives and lives of other people and the spirit will of course go on for eternity… We are the church,” explained Rev Bush after the service.
After the service was concluded, a lunch was held outside in front of the rectory located next to the New St James Church.