The tiny church in Wickham, Queens County was filled with about 40 people on May 28. They had gathered at St. Peter’s Anglican Church to celebrate the many upgrades the church has undergone recently.
New siding and windows, interior walls and the installation of seven stained glass windows from the Church of St. John the Baptist and St. Clement in the Parish of Millidgeville are some of the upgrades for the church that has no priest and usually a congregation of six on a Sunday morning.
The stained glass depicts church history, featuring saints like King Edward the Confessor, Saint Francis of As-sisi, Joan of Arc, Bishop John Medley and John Wesley.
“It’s not over yet,” said warden Gary McKay. “There are still some things left to do. We feel quite blessed to be able to do this.”
Gail Carpenter sang “As the Deer Pants for the Water” and played the Irish whistle. The Rev. Canon Chris VanBuskirk, whose family purchased a cottage in the area more than 25 years ago, was in attendance, as was Archbishop David Edwards, who preached.
In his homily, David said, “the last time I saw these windows was in the Mission Church and I was deconse-crating them. It’s good to have them here.”
On the Day of Pentecost, David noted the Holy Spirit “works through all kinds of people for the good of our community. The folks here involved in renovating this building are working for the good.”
One reason people beautify church buildings is that God and beauty go hand-in-hand.
“God is a god of beauty and we see the beauty of his creation as we look out these new windows,” he said. “The physical presence of this building reminds us there is nowhere we can go where the love of God cannot reach us.
“God has not left the building, the cosmos, the whole of creation.”
David rededicated the stained glass windows and thanked everyone who worked on the upgrades. He prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the renovation.
St. Peter’s has a storied history closely connected to the construction of Base Gagetown. The church wasn’t so much built as cobbled together in 1954, literally from pieces of St. Peter’s in Headline, a community lost during the construction of the military base. The new St. Peters got the furniture, lights, doors and windows.
Since then, it has carried on, with a small congregation that has very deep roots in the community, hence the 40 people at the May 28th service. Most lived in Wickham at one time, or their families did.
The emotional link to St. Peter’s was certainly evident in the many cousins and other relatives who came from several towns and cities to attend the service and enjoy a reunion of sorts.
A barbecue was held after the service to allow everyone plenty of time to reconnect. One guest was George Upshall, 94, whose father, Sam, gave the land on which St. Peter’s was built. He pronounced the upgrades “beautiful.”
“I’m thrilled and overwhelmed that people would come some distance to see what we’ve done here,” said Gary. “There is always that need to connect.”
Ian Flanagan of Fredericton was the main force behind the upgrades. He was chosen because of his connection to St. Peter’s. His father-in-law is Gary’s brother-in-law, Malcolm Wilson, who was the first baby baptised at St. Peter’s in 1955.
“Pam (Gary’s wife) asked me last year,” said Ian. “The whole family pitched in,” including his kids and his brother-in-law, as well as Malcolm.
The entire east wall had to be rebuilt because of ant damage. The custom frames for the stained glass and clear windows took 60 or 70 hours of nights and weekends to construct, said Ian.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen so easily anymore,” said Chris, who said he was present to give thanks to God for all the work that had been done. “It was a big team effort of time and talent.”
To read the original story on St. Peter’s that was published in the NB Anglican in 2015, click the link below. The story is on page 8.
1. There was barely an empty seat at St. Peter's in Wickham for a service to celebrate recent building upgrades on May 28.
2. Ian Flanagan, third from left, was the main carpenter behind the upgrades to St. Peter's. He is shown here with Archbishop David Edwards and his crew of mostly family members who helped with the renovations. The new wall is seen behind them, along with three stained glass windows repurposed from the former Church of St. John the Baptist and St. Clement in the Parish of Millidgeville.
3. The barbecue after the service left plenty of time to get together for a chat.
4. Family connections meant time spent catching up on all the news. From left: Vic Akerley, George Upshall, Nellie Nickerson and Susan Crawford. Standing is Doug Pettie.