St. Thomas United Church has been opening doors and opening hearts for many years. Every heart has been a new celebration of our life and of our love.
When our early members chose the name St. Thomas United Church, they certainly chose it with wisdom. Thomas, the doubting disciple, was also most deeply affected by the crucifixion. With Christ’s patience and Thomas’ acceptance of the resurrection, Thomas went on to become the first person to acknowledge Christ’s divinity. Through his subsequent travels, Thomas vigorously spread the teachings of Christ. Thomas was adventurous, inquisitive and deeply devoted. These same characteristics are our strengths and our challenges.
At St. Thomas United Church, we have been opening doors with this same spirit of adventure, inquisitiveness and love. Our first celebration was on May 9, 1976, when we opened our door for worship at H.D. Cartwright School. In 1977, St. Thomas was officially recognized as a United Church congregation. A few years later, on October 5, 1980, we began holding services at the Dalhousie Community Centre. And then, after tireless efforts by many, a dream was realized. On March 27, 1988, Palm Sunday, we held the first service in our new sanctuary in Hawkwood. We dedicated our building on June 19, 1988.
Opening doors to our hearts and minds were the ministers who have guided our spiritual adventures. The Reverends Glenn Wilms (1976-1978), Bill Dyer (1978-1981), Ron Barnum (1981-1990), Geoff Carr (1991-2001), Garth Mundle & Dorothy Naylor (2001-2002), Shannon Mang (2002-2003), Roslyn Campbell (2002 – 2011), Deborah Lannon (2003 – 2010), Geoffrey Simmons (2011-2012), Victoria Andrews (2012 – 2014), Bob Fillier (2012 – 2016), Tracy Robertson (2014 – present) and Justin McNeill (2017 – present).
The St. Thomas congregation has been pleased and even blessed with a participatory attitude. This willingness to become involved in the call of the church and its activities was clearly evidenced by the congregational decision in 1981, to organize the church into the Unified Board system. This system has been providing the opportunity for all members to participate collaboratively in the decisions of the congregation. Within this structure, our committees have undertaken specific responsibilities and have offered direction for the congregation as a whole and for the staff members which currently include the minister, the secretary, four directors of music, the organist, an accompanist and three youth leaders. Their tasks are to respond to the needs of the congregation, maintain communications, develop programs and care for the people and the building. Our volunteers and staff are responsible to approximately 395 families of all ages on our membership, Sunday School and youth group lists as well as to reach out to the community beyond us.
We have all been busy with the work of the church, and just as busy with the fellowship and humour! We have sung while doing dishes, grinned broadly with relief that it isn’t our car whose lights were left on, tossed a rubber chicken during a Senior Choir rehearsal and incorrectly named a child about to be baptized. We have celebrated craft sales, gourmet dinners, picnics in the park, singing a concert, creating a clever announcement and hanging a new banner. We continue to rejoice in our successes and embrace and learn in our distresses.
St. Thomas is growing in breadth and in depth while we develop an interactive community within our membership and beyond our membership. We are establishing our traditions and persistently exploring new and deeper ways of responding to God’s call. We continue to strive to make our actions reflect our beliefs, and to challenge and strengthen our beliefs with faith. Thomas, the devoted, continues to be an inspiration for us as we open new doors to the future.