Our Church building is now it’s it’s 50th year. There are so many stories to be shared when it comes to our worship space and how it come to be. I hope to share some of those stories, from time to time, on this blog, throughout 2017.
Ever survey the large cross over the Altar at St Aidan’s Church? Its a large cross for sure and is well appointed for the space. Like most everything in the church, including, it’s people, the cross has a story. It did not appear there on its own like a mushroom in the night.
A couple of months ago Fil Cappa, one of our original members, asked me if I knew the story of the cross. I did not. I was quite impressed with what he told me and asked him to write the story. He has since emailed it to me. Fil writes:
Prior to the completion and dedication of the new church on October 29, 1967, opportunity was given for our parishioners and others to present service and decorative items which were not included in the construction cost. Among these was the cross which hangs on the sanctuary wall above the altar. This was given by Betty and Peter Anderson in memory of their son Arnold, an active 13-year-old who went by the nickname of “Booey.” He died a short time prior to the completion of the building from an incurable form of leukemia. As well as being active members of the Parish, they were patients in my dental practice, so I have always had fond memories of the Anderson family and think of Booey every time I look at that cross.
The Anderson family was active in the Parish – Peter being President of the Men’s Club, Betty as I recall was President of the Women’s Group and their teen-aged daughters assisted in the Sunday School. Peter died suddenly at a relatively young age and Betty has been widowed for many years. She continued at St. Aidan’s for some time, until moving out of the district. Since retiring from practice some 23 years ago I had lost contact with Betty. Last November, while performing with the Mocha Shrine Concert Band at Strathmere Lodge, a long-term care facility in Strathroy, I made contact with Betty again. She is a resident there and was in attendance along with one of her daughters who was visiting her that afternoon. They recognized me and after the concert her daughter came and spoke to me. I was able to have a short visit with her and tell her that when sitting in church I thought of Booey whenever I looked up at that cross.
At times, we quite rightly, remind ourselves that the bricks and mortar of the church are just that… bricks… mortar. The building we worship in is wood and stone. Our sanctuary is not ‘the church.’ The people are the church. What we see in Fil’s story is not a contradiction of that notion, but an affirmation of it. You see the Anderson family was
clearly important in the life of the people of St Aidan’s. Booey never worshiped in the current building. He would have been present in the Rectory Basement where the church began eight years earlier. He would have worshiped at the school across the street when our community moved there. Sadly, he did not live long enough to see the current worship space completed. And yet, our longtime follow of Jesus, Fil, brings Booey’s memory to life each and every time he looks at that cross. Indeed, not only Booey, but his father and mother, their contributions to the life of the community, and the community itself are all honoured in that memory. I think that is a beautiful gift. Hearing Fil, recall that story was a gift to me. For me to, in my mind’s eye, imagine young Boeey, his parents and a young Fil and Dianne Cappa, all doing their part to live the fullness of community those fifty years ago, was a special way to be reminded that I am connected and joined to a story that was rich in meaning and replete with love.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant Booey, with all of your saints….
May he rest in peace and rise in glory!