Starting March 12, we have our own temporary space to worship as a family again. It’s a place where many in the community have worshipped and thanked God for the life of a loved one or an inspiring neighbour or colleague.
We will gather in the chapel at a neighbour’s, affectionately known as Steckley’s, but formally known the Steckley-Gooderham Funeral Home.
We have a long, strong relationship with this neighbouring business, and not just because we’ve been neighbours for so long and each play a role in comforting the grieving.
We have long-time close ties with the Steckley family, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Steckley. Walter Steckley (1907-1994) and his wife Alma (1910-2011) were both quite involved at St. Andrew’s. Witty, gracious and blessed with a good sense of humour, Mr. Steckley served as an elder, while Mrs. Steckley was very active in the Women’s Missionary Society and the Women’s Auxiliary. Their son, Howard (1935-2009) sang in the choir.
The respected funeral home located just a block west along Worsley Street is now owned by Jeffrey Scott and Susanne Pretty; Bud Gooderham bought it from the Steckley’s and then sold it to its new owners in 2009. The Steckley-Gooderham Funeral Home has deep roots in the community and been a significant business in the city core since 1944 – that’s 79 for anyone counting.
We are grateful Scott and Pretty are among an incredible group of caring people and organizations who have reached out to us since Feb. 19, when a deliberately set fire made our building off-limits. Specialists continue to assess and clean up our building. It’s early days and we expect it will be months before we can return home. a block west from home, with space to gather inside and out.
Scott, Pretty and their staff have been incredibly accommodating and are training our tech team to livestream from their chapel; our service will be livestreamed on their YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/@steckley-gooderhamfuneralhome/streams, then posted later to our website.
We can see our long-time sanctuary from the front doors of Steckley-Gooderham Funeral Home, and from an east-facing window.
We will have space to gather, worship and, yes, grieve. There’s no denying that we have lost some things that we’ve collected on our journey of faith in Barrie: our original entrance doors, restored a few years ago and repurposed as closet doors in our library, were severely charred. Our original pulpit is very burnt.
We are journeying through Lent on an unfamiliar path, yet we remember that Jesus experienced grief, loss and a feeling of being temporarily homeless as He spent 40 days in the desert. We take incredible comfort from knowing He understands.
We recognized this as we worshipped as welcomed guests with our friends at Collier United, a church community with which we work and serve in the heart of Barrie. Collier is providing office and meeting space for our staff and our programs, including the upcoming Life-Long Learning series on how our lifestyle choices affect the environment.
We are so incredibly blessed to have neighbours who are truly friends.