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by P.M. Sanford

Crescent United Church

Crescent United Church

In 1834, a Nova Scotia sea captain, Watkin Williams, pre–emptied the land now bounded by Crescent Road, 128th St., 24th Ave., and Ocean Park Road. Here he built his home and established in it a store and post office. Many years later, in 1920, Dr. G.A. Wilson, Presbyterian Superintendent of Missions, conducted a Worship Service here. After the Service a meeting was held and a Board of Managers elected with Capt. Williams as Chairman, their purpose being to organize a congregation and build a church. Mr. V.B. Wickham was asked to draw the plans on land donated by Capt. Williams. Work was begun in 1921 on a structure 22 feet by 44 feet the estimated cost of materials being $971.61. An active Ladies' Circle raised money and generated support with the result that on June 2nd, 1922, Crescent Union Church was dedicated debt free.

In the meantime Worship Services were held, first at Camp Alexandra, later in Crescent School conducted by student Ministers until 1923 when Crescent, Newton and Strawberry Hill became one circuit with Rev. J.C. Alder as Minister. Anglican Services were held on the first and third Sundays and Presbyterian on the others. A union Sunday school had both Anglican and Presbyterian teachers. Mr. Louis Laronde was the Superintendent until 1931.

View of Church sign

Crescent United Church
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives

In 1925 when Methodists and Presbyterians united to form the United Church of Canada, Rev. Robert Hughes ministered to both White Rock and Crescent congregations. Co–operation continued between the Anglican and United Church members. A joint Board of Managers looked after finances and the Sunday school. In 1928 Rev. W.C. Frank became the Minister and Remained for ten years serving both Crescent and White Rock churches. Three years later the Anglicans opened their own church in Crescent but friendly relations with the Crescent congregation continued.


Curiosity is often expressed as to the signifiance of this unusual struture which can be seen outside Crescent United Church. It is a Lych Gate built in the 1930s as a memorial to a local pioneer, Capt. Watkin Williams, and was built by Will Wichman of Crescent.

A Lych Gate is a medieval structure which was used as a resting plance for funeral processions waiting the the priest to lead them into the church and in those days most parish chrchs in England had one.

This reproduction was so authentic that it is built in the old fashioned way and is morticed together without use of nails. The wooden pegs which were used to give it rigidity were cut from an old acacia tree which was planted years ago by the Royal Engineers of Sapperton.

Photo by W.W. Hastings
February 25, 1960.

Photo courtesy of Surrey Achives

In 1936 at the suggestion of Rev. Mr. Hughes a lynch gate was erected in memory of Capt. Williams, the only one at a United Church in Canada, although quite common in England. This was where the coffin was rested before a funeral service. The following year the church chairs were replaced by pews purchased from Olivet Baptist Church in New Westminster for fifty dollars. Rev. Frank Hardy was Minister from 1938 until 1944 when Rev. Peter Connal replaced him. During his pastorate a church hall was added at a cost of $9,000.00, free of debt, a tribute to the 85 members then on the roll.

1952 was an important landmark as this was when Crescent became independent of White Rock with its own Minister! Rev. E.F. Church, a retired supply for two years, followed by Rev. Q.R. Tench and then by Rev. W.B. Willan in October 1954. Plans for a new church building were being made and the old church was moved to the back of the lot in 1955, the present building being dedicated in April 1956. On Dr. Willan's retirement in 1957 Rev. R.W. Hardy supplied until the following August. Rev. George Affleck came as part–time Minister but was soon appointed our church's first full–time Minister. A manse was built at a cost of $16,465.00, much of the work done by volunteer labour. Rev. W.R. Jackson in 1961, Rev. A.J. Lawton in 1967 and Rev. R.W. Bray in 1974 were our next Ministers.

United Church dinner United Church dinner

United Church dinner, June 20, 1963
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives

Santa at United Church bazaar Santa at United Church bazaar

United Church bazaar featuring Santa, December 8, 1966
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives

In 1975 a new Church Board was inaugurated, replacing the former Session and Committee of Stewards with an Executive Council and six standing Committees: Christian Education, Worship, Outreach, Communications, Finance and Membership. A second Sunday Service of a less formal type at 9.30 a.m. featuring Family Worship and study attracted many young families as well as people of all age groups. Church renovation plans approved by the congregation in 1979 resulted in a new heating system and a much improved hall with excellent facilities for the pre–school "Tiny Y". The second phase in 1980 gave us a new entrance and Narthex, Minister"s Study, Church Office and Meeting Room. Phase three, completed in 1981 added a balcony at the rear of the Sanctuary and an 'Upper Room' with accommodation for forty. The library was moved east of the Narthex giving room for expansion. We bade farewell to Wes and Betty Bray in June and then welcomed their successors Ed and Wendy Searcy and their young family in July. In the Fall two new standing committees were set up by the Church Board; Stewardship and Ministry and Personnel.

In 1982 our 60th Anniversary was celebrated with many special events and projects. On June 6th four former ministers took part in the worship service and many old friends returned to share in it. Another anniversary activity was the landscaping and beautification of the church grounds.

Our participation in the World Council of Churches 6th Assembly held in Vancouver was a highlight of 1983. The three–week gathering emphasized the need for a global, ecumenical church and our own responsibility in this challenge. As well Crescent hosted a pilot project when students of the Vancouver School of Theology used our congregation for a study of the life and work of an active church in a busy community.

Ed's love of children was very obvious, and as a result many more children and their parents attended both the 9.30 and the 11.00 a.m. services of worship. In 1984 our church became a teaching parish for the Vancouver School of Theology and we have had two excellent students with us in their final year of theology: Helen Simonson and Ernie Roberts. They gave great help to not only the minister but to the rest of the congregation. The need for special help for our young people had been felt for some time so we employed Lynda Blair, a "tent–maker" from Naramata Training School and more recently Graham Jack who assisted the minister in many different ways.

United Church Alter

United Church alter
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives

The renovation of the chancel improved its appearance its usefulness. As a memorial to Margaret and Harold Faulkner and to Frances McEown, long time active workers in our church, a beautiful stained–glass window was installed near the back of the sanctuary in 1986.

During the minister's holiday a number of our own people took charge of the services very acceptably. A policy of having lay readers of the scriptures gave more of our members the chance to participate actively in the worship services and also helped the minister. Week–end retreats have been held at 'Miracle Valley' and have enriched both the spiritual and social life of our congregation. All ages have participated.

In our congregation are many people with a variety of talents: physical, social, intellectual and spiritual. We are endeavouring to make the maximum use of these talents, through membership on our many boards, committees and other organizations.

In May 1986 a highlight was the arrival of 'The Corcio Refugee Family' from Salvador to live in our community. Our church is one of their sponsors.

Our Pastoral Care Group has organized one unit to visit newcomers, one to visit shut–ins and another to contact persons who have been bereaved. More members of the Group will make possible the extension of its work.

For a good many years Crescent United Church has been a "Light for Christ" in this community and we hope to keep it that way through the commitment of all our members to increased giving of time, talent and treasure to its work.

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