The Blue Church Building
an article for the June 2005 Deep Cove Crier
The Joy of EvictionJoy is a strange thing. When you least expect it, it pops up. When you chase after it, it hides from you.
As many of you will know from reading the North Shore News, we the people of St. Simon’s have been evicted from our own building and property as of May 31st 2005. After fifty-five years of worshipping at
1384 Deep Cove Road, we were thrown out by diocesan officials whom to fight would risk bankruptcy and ‘endless’ lawsuits”.
Despite our holding title deed to the property and building, despite our being legally incorporated, despite our ‘beneficial ownership’ through having bought, paid for, and maintained the building, we have been evicted by a draconian ecclesiastical law (Canon 15) which allows our ex-diocese to allegedly remove our top leadership, replacing them with people that don’t even attend our congregation.
After meeting with our gifted lawyer Bob Kuhn, we realized that our ex-diocese could drag this out for years in the courts, appealing again and again even if we won at the lower court level. Our former diocese has very deep pockets. With the BC Supreme Court cost being $10,000 a day, we decided that this would not be a good use of our resources. We would rather focus on telling people about the love of Jesus. We would rather focus on reaching out to high school students, pre-teens, children, and newcomers.
Meeting on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, the St. Simon’s congregation voted unanimously, in agreement with the Church Council, to evacuate our blue church building as of May 31st, and move our 9am Traditional BCP Service to Lions Gate Christian Academy (Maple Wood) for our June 5th Sunday services.
Was this an easy decision to make? Not at all. It was like walking through the grief of Good Friday, being unjustly mistreated and abused. But the miracle is that when we voted in unity to move forward, there was a tremendous sense of joy and freedom released.
I was reminded of Hebrews 10:34 which say that the early Christians ‘joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property’. Joy in the midst of a great injustice makes no human sense. But it is very real. Was there any greater injustice than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Yet out of this tragedy came the victory and joy of his amazing resurrection. Such joy is exactly what the people of St. Simon’s felt on Easter Sunday morning. One member said that he had never been in a more joyful, dynamic service in his entire life.
God surprises us with joy! But the key is that we have to be willing to turn the other cheek when we are despitefully used by others (Matthew 5:44). We have to be willing to pray like Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Like Stephen, we need to pray: “Lord, hold not this sin against them.” Is it fair? No. Is it just? No. But it is the way of Christ to forgive and move on. That is where our joy is coming from. May that same joy touch you today!
The Rev. Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada