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Hundred-year-old Courtenay church 'very active in community'
Our Story: A History looks at St. George's United Church's long history in Courtenay, but it also highlights the church's current work in the Comox Valley.
"The church has been a very important part of the community throughout its history … and it has played a significant role in the life of the Valley in many, many ways," says 100th anniversary book committee member and book editor Pat Brandon.
St. George's was built after Joseph McPhee donated three lots of land on Fifth Street in 1912 for the church site; by Dec. 28, 1913 the church was opened. Needing more space, the current land at Sixth Street and Fitzgerald Avenue was purchased in 1941 with the plan in mind to move the existing building over to the new site.
A basement was dug out, but because of the Second World War, the project was put on hold until 1946. According to the book, the building move was completed with so much care that there was "neither a crack in the plaster nor a sound from the bell tower."
Brandon's husband Ray was the church's minister from 1970 to 1992, and Pat herself has been an integral part of the church ever since the Brandon family moved here in 1970. Still, Pat says she was surprised at how much St. George's has contributed to the community after she researched for the centennial book.
"When I delved into the history and the present activity, I had no idea — and I've been going to that church for quite a while — I had no idea it was so extensive," says Pat. "For me, the most significant part was what we're doing now, and that's about the Sonshine Club, and about the Pastor's Pantry and other smaller groups that supplement that as well.
"We're still very, very active in the community and that's the part I was surprised at."
The Sonshine Club serves hot lunches to between 150 and 200 Comox Valley homeless citizens five days a week — at least 30,000 meals per year are served, according to the book.
From the United Church Women's fundraising efforts, to various youth groups and programs, to community outreach initiatives, St. George's has always strived to improve the community, says Pat.
"We were the genesis for the day-care centres in the Valley, which I think is a really significant thing because they met (at St. George's) for a number of years, and then they bought their own facility and began to branch out," continues Pat. "Now, there are 17 day-care centres in the Valley."
The church has been holding monthly celebrations throughout its centennial year. The final celebration happens Dec. 22 at the church.
Our Story: A History was put together thanks to the work of volunteers on the committee and others in the community. It costs $25 and is available from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday to Friday at the church office at 505 Sixth St. (250-334-4961) or from the Brandons at 250-339-3889.