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.


Mary Beth said...

how lovely! surely there was a plan there.

a little bit Harry Potterish! the disappearing church!

lorna (see throughfaith) said...

:) lovely story of the not-always-visible church!

Glad the elderly man noticed you had no bulletin and gave you his (how kind) and that others took time to talk to you. That makes all the difference!

Rachel Nguyen said...

I am still marveling about the whole thing, LOL.

A wonderfully strange incident in a week of little miracles.