St. John the Divine was built in 1859 in Ft. Langley.

St. John the Divine was built in 1859 in Ft. Langley.

Maple Ridge’s oldest church joins digital age

St. John the Devine celebrates turning 155 years old.

The oldest church in Maple Ridge is going high tech and keeping up to the 21st Century.

A new website just launched coincides with this weekend’s 155th birthday of St. John the Divine Anglican Church.

The celebration starts today at 5 p.m. with an open-mike event and local talent in the prim, white church on River Road and Laity Street.  That’s followed Saturday with an anniversary tea at 1 p.m. and a celebratory eucharist on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

“Our church traces its roots back to the original provincial capital in the gold rush town of Derby [Langley] during the earliest days of B.C.,” Rev. Charles Balfour said.

“The original church building was literally floated across the Fraser River to its new location in Maple Ridge. In many ways, you can’t understand the history of our community and province without knowing the story of St. John the Divine.”

The intent of this weekend’s event is allow the congregation to mark the birthday and to invite the rest of the community to the church to learn its history. The building is still in good condition, he added. Improvements have been made over the years.

St. John the Divine was built in 1859 in Ft. Langley and  Rev. William Crickmer held its first service in the building on May 8. Crickmer designed the church, basing it on his former church in Deptford in London.

But after the naming of New Westminster as the colony’s new capital, Ft. Langley diminished in importance. Crickmer then wanted to move the church up to Yale in the Fraser Canyon.

The river conditions didn’t allow that, but in 1882, with the pending arrival the Canadian Pacific Railway and growth of Maple Ridge, the church was floated across the Fraser River to serve those building the railway. The church was later moved further to its present site on River Road in Maple Ridge.