West Burnaby UC History

1907 – 2016

West Burnaby United Church, a Church on the Move

Compiled from various sources by Reverend Dr. Dorothy A. Jeffery, member of WBUC since 1976.

West Burnaby United Church began its life as a Sunday School in Kingsway West school in 1907 on a site south of Kingsway Avenue and Dow street.   In 1909 Jubilee Methodist church was built slightly to the north on Marlborough and Kingsway.  Later in 1912 Henderson Presbyterian Church  was built on Sussex north of Kingsway.  

Jubilee Methodist church was served for a number of years by student ministers, the first being Mr. W. E. Jones.

The first minister of Henderson Presbyterian was Rev. Hector McLean.

June 10, 1925 Methodist, Congregationalist and most Presbyterian Churches in Canada joined to form the United Church of Canada. 

It took another 11 years before the two churches amalgamated to form Henderson Jubilee United Church in 1936 under the sanction of the Presbytery of Westminster.

Transportation routes were and remain an important driver for the location of the various churches. Kingsway was a main road through Burnaby.  The interurban railway had stops near the church locations at Central Park,  Patterson, McKay, West Burnaby, Jubilee, Dow Road and Royal Oak.  The Interurban Train was discontinued in 1950.  In 1986, the Skytrain elevated highspeed rail was opened with stops at Metrotown, only 3 blocks south of West Burnaby United Church.

The actual building of West Burnaby United Church Sanctuary took place in 1948 and was paid for in 4 years.  The cost of the church was $52,000.  Its capacity was 450 people.  The previous church building was converted to the church hall. 

West Burnaby United Church ~ 2006. Church hall dedicated and opened Friday November 2, 1956. The church building prior to 1948 became the church hall and was later replaced by the 1956 building.

There was a cross in east window in front of which the choir stood. During spring and summer worship light shown into the church an illuminated the cross.

Programs at West Burnaby United Church

Social Action:

  • Food Bank was started in the 1980’s. Continued to serve those in need till ~  Spring 2017.  GVRD Food Bank offered on Monday’s at Jubilee UC till ~2019.
  • Weekly community hot lunch program started at WBUC in 1997.  Continues today, every Tuesday, at Gray and Rumble site.
  • Refugee sponsorship in 2000s and 2010s

Hosted at WBUC:

  • Kindergarten – founded in 1960’s and continued into 1980’s. 
  • The Marriage Project – an ecumenical non-profit organization, active in 2002.

Social and Support and Service Groups:

  • “As One that Serves” (AOTS) men’s group varying incarnations
  • WBUC Young married couples’ groups, mostly went out for dinners, 1967
  • Time Out for Young mothers founded in 1979
  • Coffee Row held on Wednesdays
  • Lunch Bunch an informal social group that met on Thursdays
  • HUG “Help us Grow”
  • In the late 1950s there were nine large groups in the Women’s federation some of which became United Church Women’s groups with various names: Wohelo, Central, Northern, Eastern, Western, Fidelia (continued to 2016), Garden (~1957-1961), Harmony, Unity, Agenda (still active 1970s)

Christian Education

  • Sunday School
  • Canadian Girl’s in Training (CGIT)
  • Youth group
  • KAIROS young peoples’ groups especially active in the 1960s
  • Bible Study
  • Retreats

West Burnaby United Church Mission statement ~ 2006

Our Mission: is to grow and come alive in the Christ’s love by providing spiritual nourishment to our community and by enhancing the lives of others in a mutually supportive way.

To Understand, Serve and Proclaim and to support the mission priorities of B.C. Conference: “Creating Healthy Congregations, Effective Ministries and Faithful Public Witness”.

October 2014 summary of Ministry for a future amalgamated church

Finding new ways to be and do church in the 21st Century is no small task, and no one has a crystal ball, but as the congregations set out on the path of designing a new church facility, we know these things to be true:

Worship, Learning, Service and Belonging are central tenets of congregational ministry, which will be used as a framework designing the multi-purpose church space.

WBUC has long provided an outreach and hospitality ministry, addressing issues of poverty by providing meals and being a gathering place for the street community, so a new kitchen and dining facilities need to be a part of the new space (the development plan could not accommodate fully).  The Development Team recognizes it must look at ways to provide continuity for its long-time members.

At the same time, WBUC’s busy, central location and the age and multi-cultural mix of the neighbourhood means the congregation needs to continue to be accessible to people of many faiths and cultures. For these reasons, a flexible, multi-use, multi-purpose space that is well designed and adaptable so that more and different activities can take place in less space, is critically important.

The development team composed of 6 members of WBUC, 5 members of SBUC and representatives of BC conference and the developer committed to congregational consultation before decision were made.

The process towards amalgamation is complex and requires many steps with adjustments along the way.  A first vote, separately by WBUC and SBUC, took place in December of 2015.  To the surprise of many at WBUC, the WBUC vote failed to reach the required threshold.  It appeared that a stumbling block was communication.

In January and February of 2016 listening sessions were offered to all individuals in the WBUC congregation. The purpose of the sessions was to listen for themes, dynamics and insights on the state of the church.  Questions included are you excited about the future, what are your concerns, and what are your hopes and dreams for the future of the church.  An anonymized summary report was given to the congregation in March 2016.

A second vote at WBUC in April 2016 passed so amalgamation could proceed.

To successfully bring the congregations together, another important step was a WBUC & SBUC Communications workshop held October 1, 2016. 

December 4, 2016 a new name was chosen by the congregation, Jubilee United Church.  This was based on geographic, theological and historical reasons. January 1, 2017 the amalgamation became official.  

Fourteen ministers have served at West Burnaby United Church since its formation.

  • Reverend Uriah Laite (1946 – 1951)
  • Reverend Edward Horton (1951 – 1958)
  • Reverend George Struthers (1958 – 1965)
  • Reverend George Searcy (1965 – 1971)
  • Reverend Wes Warren (1971 – 1978)
  • Reverend Harold McDonald (1978 – 1982)
  • Reverend George Stegen (1982 – 1995)
  • Reverend Edith McLellan (1985 – 1987)
  • Reverend Judith Gilliland (1995 – 2003)
  • Jennifer Goddard-Sheppard (2003-2004) – candidate supply at the time
  • Reverend Wendy Read (2004 – 2006) – intentional interim minister
  • Reverend Maggie Watts-Hammond (2006 – 2007)
  • Reverend Rick Newberry (2006 – 2013)
  • Reverend Gert van Rensberg (2013 – 2014)
  • Reverend Graham Brownmiller (2014 – present) – called to Jubilee United Church when the two churches amalgamated in January 2017