On July 7, 2003 the new Parish of the Nerepis and St. John was created from the former Parishes of Ketepec, Grand Bay and Westfield with the Parish of Greenwich joining later in the year on October 7, 2003. These four Parishes included seven churches (St. James’ Westfield, St. Albans, St. Luke’s, St. John’s, St. Anne’s, St. Peter’s and St. James’ Brown Flats) to combine one congregation. This change had been discussed since 2001 and led, for numerous reasons, to a decision that Anglican congregation would benefit by coming together to form a larger faith community.
On Sunday July 13, 2003, during a service conducted by Bishop Claude Miller, Archdeacon Geoffrey Hall and Rev. Don Trivett, the newly formed congregation worshipped for the first time at St. James Westfield. The new Vestry met following a reception and began dealing with important issues facing the new parish.
On November 29, 2003 the seven churches of the former parishes were each separately deconsecrated. The final church was St. Anne’s where a communion service was held. A pot luck supper was served at the church that was attended by the many congregants who had travelled to each church for the deconsecrating ceremonies.
The new parish held worship services at the United Church in Westfield in September with our new rector Archdeacon Vicars Hodge. It soon became obvious that a larger facility was needed when the large adult congregation was joined by an equally large Sunday School that made the church feel cramped. In January 2004, arrangements were made to hold two services at the River Valley Middle School auditorium which was large enough to seat everyone comfortably.
The former St. John’s Church became the parish centre and was used for the church office and church programming. Anna Caines was hired as the first Youth Minister for the 2003-2004 year but had to leave as she and her husband Michael took a yearlong mission trip to Uganda. Paul Ranson, then a divinity student at Trinity worked with the youth and continued what Anna started.
At the first year anniversary of the new parish, two surprises were unveiled: the name of the new church and its location. A committee had asked the congregation for name suggestions and after much prayer on the choice of the right name for our new church, the vestry voted to accept Mrs. Velma Crabb’s suggestion: The Church of the Resurrection. The name signified the rebirth and growth of a new, vibrant church in our community. The rain that week turned to a glorious evening allowing the parishioners to walk to site where the church would be built. Located a short walk north from the Parish Hall, the four acre property charmed everyone with its gentle hillside that commands a magnificent view of the St. John River. It promised to be a perfect site for the new church.
Rome was not built in a day and it was the same for the Church of the Resurrection. Another five years passed before construction began on the new church. In the meantime, services continued to be held at the River Valley Middle School, the church was growing in numbers, youth groups, bible studies and normal church activity carried on.
While we were in the school, Phase One on the new building was completed and we held our first service on Christmas Eve in 2008 and officially opened the church on February 14, 2009. Phase One included a beautiful worship space, kitchen, one large multi-purpose room and some office space. Phase Two is to finish the rest of the Hall, classrooms, meeting rooms, and extended kitchen and office space. Phase Two is a still work in progress.
Archdeacon Hodge then gathered a ministry team together to expand its vision. The Rev. Michael Caines was hired as the Assistant Curate. After five years and four youth ministers, Mrs. Marie-Helene Morell was hired to create a stable, growing ministry and The Rev. Eleanor Dryden was ordained as a Deacon.
The Lord has really blessed the Church of the Resurrection as the last five years have been a boom in activity. Regarding the youth, two youth groups were formed one senior group for middle and high school age teenagers which were lead by Marie-Helene and another for elementary groups called Kingdom Come lead by Jason and Erin Smith. The senior group at its highest was averaging over 50 kids a week. Events for the youth include 30 Hour Famine, teams for the Relay for Life and Run for the Cure, Vacation Bible School, St. Nicholas Eve, and other great events. In March of 2011 and 2013, mission teams were formed of teenagers and adults and traveled to Belize in South America, to helping paint and build a school, run VBS and assist with a soccer ministry.
As a church, we formed many small bible groups based on a few study programs such as Alpha, 40 Days of Purpose Driven Life, 40 Days of Community, Study of Ephesians and recently we just finished a yearlong study on The Story by Max Lucado. Every Easter we have Lent Missions with guest preachers and we have multiple yearlong bible groups.
As Anglicans we really enjoy fellowship and getting together and as a church we have had church picnics at Mount Hope Farm and Fun Days. The last few years we have held a Family Camp at Camp Medley and 2013 was our 4th year. Each year it gets bigger and better with over 100 people taking part in the activities.
In 2011, the Parish decided on a new vision of Y.E.S which means Youth, Engagement and Space. These were three areas highlighted in a survey as important as we moved forward in the Lord’s plan. We have established the Youth section and maintaining that goal, and Engagement is ongoing with some community events and better communication with the community. The Space section is being worked on as well as we in the process of starting another Capital Campaign to finish the building.
In November 2012, Archdeacon Vicars Hodge was called to move his ministry to Sarnia, Ontario in the Diocese of Huron. The process was now on for a new Rector. 2013 would be a year of tranistion. The Parish of the Nerepis and St. John’s celebrated its 10th Anniversary as a Parish. The coined “Serve to Celebrate” was a month long celebration for the Parish to reach out to each other and the community to show that the Parish is united and strong. After a brief internium as Priest-in-Charge, the Bishop’s announced on July 1, 2013, that The Rev. Michael Caines would officially be Priest and Rector of the Parish of the Nerepis and St. John. His induction service was on September 29, 2013.
Other staff changes followed as in July 2013, Marie-Helene Morell stepped down as Youth Minister after almost 6 years, to focus more with her family. The Rev. Jonathan Springthorpe, Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of Musquash, with a shared ministry opportunity with the Parishes, became the Youth Minister effected September 1st. Also taking effect on September 1st, Jason Smith, the Administrative Assistant, also took on the role as Youth Coordinator and will be in charge of all Youth activities within the church, Sunday School, Youth Groups, VBS and etc.
God has blessed the Parish and many exciting new ministries are about to begin. What started out as a transitional year, now has begun a new era under Rev. Michael and many great things to come.
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