The congregation of St. John the Divine was founded in Victoria in 1860 when a prefabricated iron church building, assembled (then disassembled) in England and shipped around Cape Horn on a sailing ship, was completed in the new colony of Vancouver Island. The original building (where the Hudson Market is now) was replaced with a brick building in 1912 at its current location at the corner of Quadra and Mason Streets. It was renovated after a disastrous fire in 1960. The current building, including the chapel, seats about 500, has a full Cassavant organ, stained glass throughout and a very tall spire, which is a city landmark.
St. John’s is known as one of the most active and imaginative parishes in Canada.
It is characterized by wide variety in worship, ranging from the solemnity of special full choral eucharists using traditional language, to the meditative and gentle style of ecumenical Taizé worship, to the delightful energy of family-oriented worship and the annual arrival of spitting camel and llamas at Christmas and Palm Sunday. In all, about 250 people attend worship each Sunday. Be sure to see Sunday’s leaflet for what worship is happening.
St. John’s has a long tradition of responding to the world’s needs: support for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, signing letters for Amnesty International, volunteering at the weekly homeless youth shelter in our basement, being an overflow for adult shelters (NOT any more), supporting the Nisga’a in their land-claims and current reconciliation, operation of a food bank twice a week, settlement of many refugee families and one gay man, hosting training for volunteers partnering with federal prison inmates returning to society, advocating for full inclusion of LGBTQ people including marriage, and many other ways in which St. John’s parishioners have served our local and global community.
The arts have been central in St. John’s worship, and we are also a venue for a wide variety of performances. Scholarships are provided for a student organist as well as for students of voice.
Family issues have had great emphasis. A full program for all ages from nursery through university years provides opportunity for appropriate faith development at all ages. We are an inclusive community, and there continues to be a remarkable degree of close family feeling among the membership.
Written by Harold Munn, Former Rector, with updates by Duane Lecky and Anne Moon