By The Reverend Canon Dr. William J. Danaher, Jr. , Rector
When we look to the past, we tend to see monuments rather than movements. We tend to think that what has happened was always meant to be. We forget the challenges prior generations faced – their fears of failure and the joy they experienced when they reached a goal that seems to exceed their grasp. We forget the surprise they felt when they discovered what they were able to do by the sheer grace of God.
Over the past week, the fears, joys, surprise, and grace of our founders came back as I re-read the first few chapters of Jervis Bell McMechan’s magisterial history of the first fifty years of Christ Church Cranbrook.
The founding of our parish was not inevitable, but the result of a daring gesture of faith, hope, and love made by George and Ellen Booth at God’s bidding. During the early years of our parish, the outcome of their work was far from certain. Despite their generosity, the church remained meagerly supported. During the first decade of the church’s history, summer services were often held in St. Dunstan’s Chapel because attendance was so low. Samuel Marquis, our visionary first Rector, struggled to grow a congregation large enough to match the building he had helped build. His health suffered, and he retired only a few years after the church was founded.
At the same time, the leaders of the church realized that they needed to build a program center to house Sunday School – then a new movement in Christian education – and to house the administrative staff needed to manage the gradually-growing church. Again, thanks to George and Ellen Booth, work began in 1938 while the US remained mired in the Great Depression and on the brink of war.
As we celebrate our 90th Anniversary, it is important for us to look back and give thanks not only for the beautiful church we now inhabit, but the incredible Spirit-filled courage our founders displayed, and the sacrifices they made, so that we might continue to become the place they imagined us to be – where we meet Jesus, find Joy, share Beauty, and serve Others. May God give us a double-portion of the Spirit that inspired our founders as we carry on their legacy and follow God’s call to us in the present and the future.
We would like to thank all who attended and supported the 90th Anniversary Celebration. Committee Members: Mary Agarwal, Jill Bednas, David Bernier, Robert Harries-Bernier, Thomas & Lois Booth, Joanne Brodie, Sarah Buckley, Kristen Goran, Cindy Lazarus, Susan Varbedian Lucken, Sonia Ajluni Pastore, Sarah Post, Mollie Proctor, Marilynn Roche, Stephanie O. Rose, Molly Saeli, Melinda Saylor, Meredith Skowronski & Karen Street.
Sponsors: Band: Claire & Bill Danaher and Debbie & John Erb; Flowers: Mary & Chip Kroneman; Patron Party: Susan Varbedian Lucken; Tickets: Bobbi & Stephen Polk; Valet: Sarah & Tom Post Commemorative Video: Maggie & Bob Allesee; Wine and Dinner: Joanne & Richard Brodie and Roger Young.