Reflecting as we enter our 175th year


Too often, we measure in years – and as St. Andrew’s celebrated its 174th anniversary this week, there were lots of reasons to celebrate.

Just imagine downtown Barrie in 1849. The town was located in Upper Canada. Confederation was still 18 years away. Yet there were faithful Scots Christians who would gather for worship, and they established the Presbyterian faith community that would become St. Andrew’s.

A church is a community. Worshipping, making music and serving the community were important right from the start – that first day Sept. 17, 1843. We mark our anniversary as 1849, when the Barrie Presbyterian Church was established, and it’s now known as St. Andrew’s Barrie within the larger Presbyterian community in Canada.

Through the years, our people have embraced outreach and service projects including the first community sing-song in Queen’s Park on Aug. 17, 1923, the opening of Barrie Out of the Cold in January 1998, and support for refugees from Vietnam (1970s/1980s) and Syria (2016/17).

This year, we introduced the Little Winter Warmers Tree, to provide warmth for anyone who needed mitts, hat, a scarf or gloves. Ultimately it’s about people and caring for people, just as our Lord taught us.

The years are actually days, days filled with opportunities to share God’s love.

Sometimes those days are dark, grey and discouraging. Our fire in February was a dark event, but we know that God uses events such as this to refine our faith and get us thinking about what is important. We were reminded that what we own can be stolen or destroyed, through no fault or negligence of our own. It doesn’t feel fair or doesn’t seem right, but we know that these dark valleys are something we pass through – and we will come out the other side.

We know that Jesus comforted His disciples in the midst of the storm on the boat and He promised that as He left them, He would still care for them. John 14 :1 is a simple verse, a promise and an assurance. The image from the Presbyterian Church of the USA features tulips, one of the earliest spring flowers – blooms that emerge from bulbs put in the ground and left to God’s care before the harsh winter weather.

We continue to walk together and serve in Barrie as we begin our 175th anniversary year. We don’t know what is in store, but we do know that God’s unfailing love and grace will guide us as we continue to worship and serve.

It’s a day-by-day challenge. And perhaps we are back to sharing the light as we witness.

Be the reason someone feels seen, heard and loved. Simple. Just as Jesus loved us, we endeavour each day to share that same love. Day by day.