Monday, August 18, 2008
The United Church of Canada
How could I have missed this church?
On the way to the cottage in Nova Scotia, I was keeping an eye out for an Anglican Church.
We passed a Mennonite, Roman Catholic, United, Presbyterian... and finally, in a little village just before the cottage, a lovely white Anglican church with big gothic doors. I made a mental note of it so I could visit it the next morning for the service at 11:00.
The next day, after an early breakfast and walk on the beach, I got in the car and headed off to church. As is my custom, I left far too early. I was worried about how far away it was and couldn't remember clearly, so I allowed myself 45 minutes to get there.
Strange. Within ten minutes, I passed the Presbyterian and the United church and kept driving. Did I forget where the Anglican was? Then I drove past the Catholic church. I took a side road, thinking I might have forgotten where we had turned. Nope. Finally, I got to the Mennonite church and knew for sure that I had overshot because that was the first church we had seen after leaving the highway. By this point it was nearly 10:45, so after having allowed myself tons of extra time, it looked like I was going to be late. I turned around and headed back to the village. I backtracked until I reached the United Church of Canada and pulled into the parking lot at exactly 11:00 to the sound of the first hymn in progress through the open windows.
I snuck into the church and quietly looked for a bulletin. None to be found. One of the parishioners noticed me and came out, handing me his bulletin. He walked me to a pew and I sat down.
The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 and was comprised of Methodists, Congregationalists and about 75% of the Presbyterian churches in Canada. I believe that today it is the largest Protestant denomination in the country. On the day I was visiting the Salem United Church in River John, they were celebrating their 200th anniversary as a congregation. They had a supply minister in the pulpit. In rural Canada, it isn't unusual for clergy to be in charge of several churches and rotate around in the summer. I think this minister on Sunday may have actually been retired.
The service was about the same length as what we have at Grace, but the lack of a Eucharist was made up for in sermon length. At one point, an older gentleman in the back of the church started snoring. I smiled to myself.
After the service, several people approached me and invited me to sign the guest book. I had a nice chat with a woman who just got back from driving across the Unites States. The minister introduced himself and invited me to come back next time I was in town.
I got in the car and headed back towards the cottage. I passed the Presbyterian church. And then, on my left, was astonished to see the Anglican church was just letting out.
How very strange that I had missed it! I can only wonder if God had some reason for me to be in the Salem United Church last Sunday.