The congregation of St. John the Divine was founded in Victoria in 1860 when a prefabricated iron church building, disassembled in England and shipped around Cape Horn on a sailing ship, was completed in the new colony of Vancouver Island. The original building was replaced with a brick building in 1912, renovated after a disastrous fire in 1960. The current building which, 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 western Canada.
It is characterized by wide variety in worship, ranging from the solemnity of occasional 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 a live donkey and llamas at Christmas and Palm Sunday. In all, about 250 people attend worship each Sunday. Be sure to check next Sunday’s leaflet to see what worship is happening next week.
St. John’s has a long tradition of responding to the world’s needs: support for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, volunteering at the weekly homeless youth shelter in our basement, being an overflow for adult shelters, supporting the Nisga’a in their land-claims, operation of a food bank twice a week, settlement of 14 refugee families, hosting training for volunteers partnering with Federal prison inmates returning to society, and many other ways in which St. John’s parishioners have served the needy in our local community as well as around the world.
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, and the annual Family Weekend at the diocesan camp every Labour Day weekend is an event widely attended. We are an inclusive community, and there continues to be a remarkable degree of close family feeling among the membership.
Throughout the year education for adults takes place in the form of various study series led by members of the congregation or clergy. The annual Lenten Noon Forum, which has earned a reputation far beyond Victoria, brings speakers of note to address an audience much wider than our congregation.
Written by Harold Munn, Former Rector