Monday, December 26, 2016

The Way We Were

MY HUSBAND and I stood on the church steps some thirty-five years ago not thinking that the lovely historic First United Church in White Rock with its big steeple would one day be demolished. The building has more wrinkles and cracks nowadays ... my husband and I do too.

Unlike in Europe where buildings exist for hundreds of years our relatively young country of Canada has a habit of ripping up "the old" for something new, especially in BC where buildings are mostly constructed of wood.

Although not a regular church goer, I nonetheless felt sentimental about its demise slated for next year. I took pictures of it over Christmas to preserve its memory and to show how impressive it still looks now. The evolution of the church began in 1910 and is documented HERE. The property is worth millions today and I believe, at this writing, the plan is to construct a smaller church and provide senior housing on the remaining portion of the land.

Over the years, ministers and dedicated volunteers within the church walls inspired folks in need and strove to make the community better. Christmas day dinners were served in the church basement for some thirty-five years.

This year would be the last and it was high time I helped set up the tables as well as enjoy a meal there. There were buckets of vegetables being peeled in one corner of the room and cooks expecting 250 guests bustled behind the scenes in the back kitchen on Christmas eve. Once all the volunteers arrived and we got past the initial confusion of where to begin everything fell into place beautifully. Wherever something needed attention someone got to it. Amazingly, the entire large room was decorated and the tables put up and set in little over an hour.

I don't think there would be a single starving person on the planet if people pulled together the way these volunteers did. Many who came to help were strangers to one another.

They say competition and/or religion make you strong and good but I think it's basic human kindness and pure cooperation that builds a better world.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms


  1. Lovely photos of the festivities and it is sad to see a building that is sentimental go ~ change the one constant of life.

    Happy New Year to you ~ ^_^

  2. A shame to hear that it's going to be demolished. Progress must marches on.

  3. Agreed - there is plenty to go round if only we would all pull together and be kinder and less selfish.

    Nice photo of you guys. So sad to see such a young building being pulled down.

  4. Good pics..sometimes old things too equally elegant...have a great day.

  5. Love you as a young 80's couple. Sorry to see such a grand church building be demolished. Happy New Year to you. Greetings Jo

  6. The final stage of the church must have culminated with this festive dinner for Christmas and nice to know you were a part of it, penelope. There’s something sad about the disappearance of the familiar long-standing center of the community. I hope some of the original materials from the church be reused for the new structure. Religion has taken leadership to charity events but as you wrote, kindness and compassion will make the better world when people get together. Wish you and your family a New Year filled with the most precious things to you.


  7. How I wish the whole world could run on that fuel -- kindness and cooperation. I'm glad you were able to take part in that last dinner. It is too bad the church will be demolished, and I hope that it's traditions will move to its new location.

  8. I second Sallie. Less and less kindness and cooperation in the world (at least in my part of world).

  9. First, please allow me to gush over that incredibly lovely photo of you and your husband. Secondly, I am right there with you on your thoughts about "basic human kindness and pure cooperation" as the key to making sure not a single hungry person exists on the planet. I also love that you took it upon yourself to join the volunteers in preparing a last Christmas meal. What a great way to see this beautiful church out. As you know, my dad renovated a church that we lived in, and that now houses a young family. It was way back in the early 60's when he received the news that the church was to be torn down. The ultimate recycler, he couldn't imagine tearing down such a beautiful building. He thought of all the memories and of the "good bones" in the church's structure, and he saw no option but do what he could to preserve both. I wish there were such possibilities for First United Church but the culture of tear down and build anew is so strong in this day and age, I know that is unlikely. Still, your post has contributed to a different sort of preservation that I find truly heartwarming.

    1. I had forgotten about that, Carol … I can’t imagine anything more fantastical than living in an old renovated church … all those good thoughts, songs and prayers dwelling within those walls. Totally awesome!

  10. What a gorgeous photo of you and your husband and how amazing that you all made christmas a special time for people who otherwise would have had a lonely day.
    Have a fantastic 2017

  11. Great shot of you and your husband. That is sad about the demise of the Church. I agree about people pulling together. To bad we can't do more of that. I was married in 1980 so just a couple of years before you. I would say it doesn't count since I'm divorced but now that Bill and I are back to being very close friends and walking buddies it kind of does.

  12. I remember that beautiful young couple. Love you so much.
    And I remember the beautiful old church. So sad to hear of its demolition. So much time spent in that church basement...I'm sure the ghosts of many friends will still meet there.
    Hugs, K


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