St. John's Squamish - Debt Free at Last!

After a series of extraordinary donations and a grant in the spring, the parish of St. John the Divine, Squamish located north of the town in the Garibaldi Highliands went from barely making small payments on a third building loan of over $20,000 to seeing our eternal roof fund debt reduced to about $6000. With this good news, Church Committee resolved in June to start a fundraising campaign over the summer to pay down this debt by the end of the year. Some of us were jaded, “Here we go again…how will we raise this kind of money when we’ve been barely able to make minimal payments since the last building crisis?”

Fortunately there was a small group with some novel fundraising ideas: raffling a gift basket of donated wine and preserves, and shaving and shearing the pastor to “Shingle the Debt”. Somewhere in the two-week campaign for Karen Brumpton’s Wear a Hat to Church idea , people galvanized. Photos of the vicar, the Reverend Nick Parker and People’s Warden, David Hildreth in fancy hats were circulated. We heard that Archbishop Skelton, Diocesan Finance and Property, and anonymous parishioners sent in donations of $1000 and more. We were delighted to discover after church on July 8, that the proceeds from hats rented from Karen's collectio added to the Sunday offering, together with other donations put us over the targeted $6000 goal! This all came together in about a week, a significant accomplishment for a large parish, a miracle (again) in the little parish that could.

This is big news for St. John’s, Squamish. Since forming a building committee in 1996, for a beautiful new sacristy that opened in 2000, we have been overseeing construction, as well as meeting, planning and fundraising for this and subsequent building repair and maintenance projects without a break. It seems that when needed, we have been blessed with people with the skills and energy to plan and complete these projects, along with others able to galvanize the membership to find extraordinary ways to pay for them. We also have a debt of gratitude to diocesan staff and Diocesan Council, as well as the Anglican Foundation for expertise and grant support to these accomplishments over the years.

And yet, necessary and worthwhile as they have been, at times these building projects have been a burden and distraction for many of us. We have created beautiful spaces for ourselves and the community to use, but parish outreach has been limited by the energy these projects required.

We have recently been inspired by what we can accomplish when we open ourselves to the creative spirit within us. But now there emerges a new challenge: We are free from debt – for now, so, how do we meet Christ’s expectation to spread the gospel in new and creative ways? Do we use this extra money to build a contingency fund and support the usual causes, or do we dare to be fools for Christ, and dream big, novel or even a little crazy in how we use it? What unique gift can St. John’s make to Squamish, and maybe even the wider world?

This article was prepared by the Wardens and Church Committee of St. John the Divine, Squamish.

IMAGES

  • The Hat Day Sunday Group Shot
  • The state of the parish hall roof in 2015
  • A recent photo of the current parish hall roof
  • Vicar, the Reverend Nick Parker on Hat Day
  • David and Edie Hildreth
  • Michael de Jong
  • Elizabeth Kerr
  • A trio of Hat Day participants.

Many thanks to Pamela Tattersfield for curating these photo submissions