Statistically, only three percent of churches in North America survive to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
Maple Ridge Baptist Church will be marking its 100th birthday in early July with three days of special events.
Joan Newton has been gathering information and photographs to produce an illustrated history of the congregation and its buildings. The book, called Remember the Day – Consider the Years will be available for sale, along with a picture book for children.
There was no Baptist Church in Maple Ridge until Owen and Mary Fuller moved here in 1912 from Kitsilano. Along with their friends, the Greenwells and the Hatches, they organized a Sunday school that met in a vacant building. They soon raised enough money to build their first church on Dewdney Trunk Road, on the west side of the entrance to Maple Ridge Cemetery.
This early church was a simple white structure with a pointed steeple. On the top was a wooden, hand-carved from a cedar shingle block, with its forefinger pointing symbolically to heaven.
The Baptist congregation soon outgrew this building, so in 1929 and again in 1940 it remodeled, raising the building to accommodate a basement. Meeting spaces, a balcony and the square steeple were added. This building, now a private home, still stands.
Two more Maple Ridge Baptist Church buildings were to follow on property at the corner of Lougheed Highway and 6th Avenue (now 222nd Street).
The first of these was built in 1949, followed by numerous changes and additions.
The second was built in 1982, and extensively renovated in 1999 to its present form.
One of the longest serving Baptist pastors here was the Reverend Arthur Haynes, who preached in all three church buildings from 1926 to 1969. He did much outreach work, including members of the Japanese community. His wife Edna did not spend all her time at home, raising their eight children, but “was called on to conduct special meetings, play the organ, teach Sunday school, act as superintendent, hold special Bible classes, work with young people, visit the sick and bereaved, and attend all church meetings.”
By 1979, more pastoral assistance was required if the church was to continue to grow and prosper. Now the church is served by six pastors and assistant pastors. Summer Bible schools, musical performances and missionary work have been part of its work load.
The three-day centennial celebration begins on July 6, when there will a banquet to honor 13 people who have been members of Maple Ridge Baptist Church for 50 years or more.
These people are Earl Gustafson, Grace Robinson, Owen Fuller Jr., Murray and Ruth McDougall, Gwen Wallis, Merle Haynes, Marea Larsen, Larry Gustfason, Ruth Fehr, Harold Haynes, Helen Reitsma and Audrey Beckett.
On Saturday, July 7 there will be an all day picnic and reunion on the grounds of a church member.
Then on Sunday, July 8 there will be a special service, winding up a series that began in May on the history of the Christian church.
Extra features will be greetings from all three levels of government, songs by a men’s quartet called the Garden Hill Boys, and video presentation on the history of the church.
• For any further information, call the church office at 604-467-9613.
Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.