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Just last week I found myself at the corner of Burrard Street and Nelson Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was making my way from the airport to my hotel, via the Vancouver metro system. I know most folk just grab a cab, especially when luggage is in tow. But using public transportation orients me to a new city and I really wanted to get my bearings as quickly as possible. The Canadian Society of Church History had invited me as the International Speaker for their 2019 conference, and my husband and I had decided to tag our family vacation onto the conference. So I was looking forward to a long week in British Columbia.
I dragged my roller bag up Burrard’s busy sidewalk, looking for the Century Plaza Hotel–until I found myself suddenly stopping in surprise. The stone belfry of a medieval church towered above me.
It couldn’t be medieval. Vancouver is a young city, historically speaking. European settlers only arrived in the 1850s and ’60s, and Vancouver didn’t exist as a city until 1886. Yet Gothic-like columns soared above me. I decided to stop and investigate.
Gothic - Architecture - Church - Vancouver - Year
What I found surprised me even more than the Gothic architecture. I had stumbled upon the oldest Baptist church in Vancouver. In 1886, the same year Vancouver was founded, a handful of Baptists launched a Sunday School program inside a downtown pub. Yes, you read that correctly. A Baptist church founded in a bar. Twenty-five years later the congregation would lay the cornerstone for their new sanctuary at the corner of Nelson Street and Burred.
Of course, it didn’t take me long to see the very Baptist aspects of the Gothic-revival building. While some of the stained glass contained images, it was mostly colored glass very reminiscent of the windows of my small town Southern...
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