This story, by the Rev’d Jolene Peters (who also took the photographs) will appear in the November print issue of Anglican Life.
When you walk inside the doors of St. Thomas’ church in St. John’s, you can’t help but pause and admire the beautiful architecture. Each time I sit in the pews I find myself reflecting and thinking about the many people who have sat there before me over the years. I think about those who built this church and began ministry here 185 years ago. Their passion, dedication, and hard work built these walls that have housed so many ministries over the years. My own grandparents were married here 78 years ago, and I am in awe of the many others who stood in the front of this church and made a commitment to each other, or the many families who brought their new born babies here to receive the sacrament of Baptism and be welcomed into this church family. So many families have come here in their grief as they’ve said farewell to those whom they loved, with the promise of being together one day again in that place that Jesus has promised is prepared for each of us. Countless people of all ages have come to these altar rails and joined together in the Eucharist to be fed and nourished by God’s word and sacrament.
Over the decades, there have been laughter and tears, ups and downs. Many changes have taken place; we have seen people leave for one reason or another; we have welcomed new people into the fold. We have had many people give leadership here, and have been blessed by the various gifts of the clergy and lay leadership in this place over the years.
What I wholeheartedly know has remained true for all of those years is the faithfulness, generosity, and love for God’s people. The parish could never celebrate such a milestone as this without all of those who have made it possible to get here. St. Thomas’ congregation has remained blessed throughout the many years that people have come here and called St. Thomas’ home. Whether you have been here your whole life or have just joined us, we are so glad that you are part of our parish family and give thanks for the many gifts we have received from your dedication, love, and support of this parish and its ministries.
It may not have been the anniversary service that would have been planned had it not been for the current COVID-19 restrictions, but nonetheless, on Sunday September 19th, this parish family came together in celebration with a beautiful worship service. We welcomed Archdeacon Charlene Taylor, our Diocesan Administrator, as the guest preacher, and we had the MHA for St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi, the Honourable John Abbott, in attendance to present the Rev’d Gail MacDonald, our rector, with a certificate of congratulations.
As this parish family always does, parishioners came through on the request to fill bags with groceries for the Emmaus House Food Bank, a special project to celebrate 185 years and give back to our community. A total of 95 bags were collected!
As we continue on the journey may we do so giving thanks for our history and all that has shaped us and let us look forward with faith for all we will experience together in this part of God’s kingdom in the years to come.