Maple Ridge has a rich spiritual heritage dating back to the earliest days of the settlement.
Godly men and women came to this wilderness to carve out a new life for themselves.
The following information was gleaned from the book Maple Ridge, A History of Settlement, by the Maple Ridge branch of the Canadian Federation of University Women.
A paragraph on Page 6 of the book says: “The pioneers of Maple Ridge laid the foundation for a thriving municipality. They developed great community spirit as they met in various homes for fellowship and worship as well as to plan for schools, churches and roads.”
The first Presbyterian service was conducted in 1862 and the first Methodist service in 1865. St. John the Divine Anglican Church was built in 1859 across the river, but was dismantled and reconstructed on its present site in 1882.
Roman Catholic services were held in Thomas Haney’s home until a church building was erected in 1881.
Baptist services convened in homes until the first Baptist church was erected in 1912.
The Japanese Christian congregation was active in the early 1930s.
Accounts exist of denominations sharing the same building and churches working together for the welfare of the whole community.
Over the years, other denominations and churches have come to serve our community and today many church leaders gather together to pray and plan and work for the betterment of Maple Ridge and area.
It is interesting to note also that when a diphtheria epidemic took its toll in the winter of 1888-89, the Methodist parsonage became a temporary hospital and the local church minister who was also a medical student, along with a number of women cared for the sick.
There is a sense in which every church is a hospital, both spiritually and physically ministering, to untold personal ailments and needs.
Countless good deeds have been long since forgotten.
Food, clothing and shelter have been provided.
Acts of kindness and generosity have been freely given.
The sick have been visited, the dying and bereaved have been comforted and prisoners ministered to.
The churches are ready and happily available to meet personal and family needs in any and every way possible.
Jesus not only taught us to love God, but also to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
The greatest expression of that love is to fulfill the great commission that Jesus gave us.
He told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.
He commanded that we make disciples of all nations and that we baptize them and teach them.
In my opinion, that is the church’s greatest service to our fellow man.
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ our Lord died for our sins on the cross and was buried and on the third day rose again in order to forgive our sins.
The sin forgiven man has the ability to love God and his fellow human beings and thus can serve both God and all men.
The sin forgiven man will not only live a credible life of integrity on earth, but will also enter the gates of heaven and hear the Master say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Such were our pioneers.
How about us?
Ed Bradley is pastor emeritus at High Way Church.