“Let the Good Times Roll”
April 22, 2018 – Easter 4 – Year B
“This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” Our church has both a concrete cornerstone as well as the very real spiritual cornerstone of Jesus Christ. To be built on such a sure foundation is astounding. To base our very existence on the faith in Christ is amazing. And yet for decade after decade women and men, children and adults have gathered in this sanctuary and worshiped in the name of Christ. The cornerstone of our faith is Jesus, crucified and risen, our hope and reconciler.
So it is that we gather as followers of our redeemer. With faith we know that Christ is among us. It is an amazing experience to know with certainty that the risen Christ offers repentance, forgiveness of sin, and new beginnings.
The 1950’s was very much a time of new beginnings for our church. The second world war was well behind us and there was much excitement and fervor amongst the congregation. So much so, that in 1958 land was purchased on Waterford Avenue in case a second United Church would be needed at the south end of town. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Let’s start in 1951 when we were connected to the City sewer system. A momentous event, you must agree. The 1951 statistics are this: membership 643 persons, baptisms 75, weddings 49 and burials 3l. In 1952 authority was given to construct a new Christian Education wing at a cost of $32,376 and to construct a new entrance to the sanctuary at a cost of $4300.
In 1953 Rev. Ernie Rand’s salary was $3120 and his annual car expense was $400. In April 1953 Mr. T. Reed from the Observer met with the Official Board to promote the Observer. He said, “if we are to have an intelligent church we must have an informed church. The Observer is the means of informing the church.” That is still true today. The congregation was offered a deal of $1 instead of $2 for the year’s subscription of the Observer.
The September 8 1953 meeting of the Official Board was held in the new church parlour. 1953 was a busy and significant year for the church, for the keys to the new Christian Education wing were presented to Harold Myers (Shirley Myers father) on Sunday June 28 by the contractor Arthur Weight after the official dedication. This wing cost $45,000 and houses 13 classrooms, office and parlour. The construction was offered by volunteers and supervised by Mr. Weight. At the same time the chapel was built and the kitchen was moved to where the office is now.
In 1954 the Women’s Federation had 86 members. Senior choir had 42 members, the Jr. Girl’s choir had 55 girls aged 9 and older and was led by Margaret Hendry. With George Gay as chairman, the Stewardship Committee held an “Every Family Visitation.”
In 1955 the Manse at 617 Winnipeg Street was sold for $7500.00 on a part trade-in on the new manse at 96 Manor Park Road, for $16,500.00. That year there were 38 baptisms, 60 weddings and 70 funerals. A story is provided by Sam Kahmann: Sam and Jimmy Johnson were walking west on Eckhardt after playing sports and noticed flames coming from the basement at the south end of the church. They reported it through the radio station CKOK as they were offering “rewards” for reporting incidents. So, the boys got their $10.00, the fire department came, and the fire was put out before it became too big. He thinks it started in a garbage can in a basement room. The fire damage at the church destroyed mostly Sunday School files.
In October 1958 it was agreed to purchase property on Green Avenue near Princess Margaret School from Mr. & Mrs. J. Bissett for $4500.00 ($1000 cash down-payment and $500 per year for the balance).
From 1949 to 1958 Rev Ernie Rands was our Minister and from 1958 – 1965 Rev. R.C. Gates served as Minister. The decade concluded with the balcony in the sanctuary being remodeled in 1959. It was a decade of growth, expansion, and good times. Post war, families were being established and the church became the centre of family life. Worship, Sunday School and mid-week activities were an accepted part of our congregation’s pattern. Penticton United Church was a prominent church in the community. People came to our church to hear the message of Christ, resurrected and ever glorified.
The 1950’s were good times for our church. We longingly look back to those days and wish they could be retrieved. We yearn for hundreds of children in church. We ache for Christmas pageants of yester year. We long for multiple units of UCW. We wish this sanctuary was filled every Sunday. But, the reality is, we are like sheep, following the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd points us to The Way. It is not a path of despair, but rather one of new beginnings. Let the good times roll, my friends. Not like that of the 1950’s but rather in a uniquely faithful way of 2018. So be it. Amen.