18 Aug 2010, Posted by Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver
Christ Church Cathedral is an inclusive community of disciples of Jesus Christ serving God in downtown Vancouver through worship, ministry and outreach. We seek to be an inclusive, growing community of disciples of Jesus Christ, loving and serving God and neighbour through worship, ministry, outreach, the arts, and culture. Our motto is “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.”
Our Story: A brief history
Christ Church Cathedral, in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the Cathedral church of the Diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Cathedral is located at 690 Burrard Street on the north-east corner of West Georgia Street and Burrard Street, directly across from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
The first service was held, without a church building, on December 23, 1888 at 720 Granville Street in the town of Vancouver. Later, on February 14, 1889, a building committee was formed to collect the necessary funds for the erection of the church. It would be located on land bought from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR); Henry John Cambie, chief engineer of CPR’s Pacific Division and People’s Warden of the new church, was a key negotiator in acquiring the property.
By October 1889, Christ Church’s basement was built and on October 6, the opening service was held for 52 parishioners. The joy of a new church did not last forever.
By 1891 the CPR objected to the unfinished building that had quickly been nicknamed the root house. It was viewed an “eyesore” and the parishioners feared they would lose their location due to lack of funds to complete the building.
A financing scheme was developed by a parishioner and the corner-stone was finally laid July 28, 1894, and the church dedicated, Sunday February 17, 1895. The church was built in the Gothic Style with ceiling made of cedar planking and ceiling beams and floor constructed out of old growth Douglas fir.
By 1909 the first expansion was done and by 1911 the first organ had already worn out, it used a human blower hired at $5 per month, and was replaced by a new organ manufactured by Wurlitzer. In 1920, electricity replaced candles for lighting, and in 1930 the lanterns now in the church were installed.
In 1929, the Archbishop of New Westminster constituted Christ Church as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. The church planned to build a bell tower, but in 1943, the city by-laws were changed to restrict church bells.
In 1949, after many building alterations, the Casavant organ was installed. Constructed partially of war surplus parts and remnants of the Wurlitzer, the instrument served well but had a problematic history.
Spring and Fall 2004 saw the installation of a Kenneth Jones tracker organ in the south gallery of the renovated Cathedral. Comprising a three manual console and 2500 pipes, 1700 salvaged from the Casavant, it is the first Christ Church Cathedral organ custom built to speak with optimum effect in the sanctuary.
In 1971 the church membership voted to demolish the building and replace it with a hi-rise tower complex designed by Arthur Erickson. This redevelopment was opposed by the public and in 1976 after much lobbying; the cathedral was named a Class A Heritage building in the municipality of Vancouver and The Province of British Columbia.
In 1995 an eleven year program of Restoration and Renewal was begun. Christ Church Cathedral is the Regimental Church of the Seaforth Highlanders and is in the process of being designated Regimental Church of the BC Regiment, Duke of Connaught’s Own. It is also the church at which the British royal family worships when in Vancouver.
The Celtic Cross, which is found on both the Cathedral’s exterior and interior, represents the roots of the Anglican Communion in the British Isles. The spindle whorl and the three salmon in the style of the Coast Salish Nation, represent the First People of Canada and the original inhabitants of the west coast.
The Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P) in the centre are the initials of the words Christus Rex, Christ the King. The motto is “I hold before you an open door” (Revelation 3:8), the title of the first sermon preached in the Cathedral by the Rector, the Rev. H. B. Hobson, December 23, 1888.
Peter Elliott serves at the Cathedral Dean and Rector. Ellen Clark-King serves as Priest Associate. Alisdair Smith and Dixie Black serve the parish as Deacons. Chris Dierkes serves the parish as Cathedral Curate.
The former Dean and Rector, until 1994, was Michael Ingham, who is now Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster.
Jim Cruickshank served as Dean and Rector from 1983 until his election as bishop in the Diocese of Cariboo in 1992.
Herbert O’Driscoll served as Dean and Rector from 1968 to 1983.
Ordination of Women
Key legislation regarding the ordination of women to the priesthood in Canada was enacted by the General Synods of 1973 (Act 31) and 1975 (Act 64). The first ordinations of six women as priests took place on the same day, 30 November 1976, in four dioceses across Canada, including two (The Rev. Elspeth Alley and The Rev. Virginia Briant) at Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver.
Bishop Michael Ingham authorized a liturgy for the celebration of lesbian and gay covenants in December 2002. Diocesan guidelines require that parishes who want to offer this ministry seek the approval at a meeting of Vestry.
Christ Church Cathedral’s Annual Vestry meeting in February 2003 gave approval for this ministry to be offered as part of the parish’s pastoral care for the community.
Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds
Christ Church Anglican Cathedral is an inclusive community of disciples of Jesus Christ serving God in downtown Vancouver through worship, ministry and outreach. Since 1888 people have met on this site to worship God and witness to Christ’s love for the world. The Cathedral is enriched and enlivened by the diversity of its community. It is a place for worship, and for outreach to near and far. It is a place where faith is nurtured and all age groups are welcomed. The performing and visual arts find a home here. This is a safe, welcoming and positive space for GLBT people, their friends and families.