Did you know that the Christian church in Surrey and White Rock has an “untold” story?
A new book aims to remedy that, in 228 pages.
It’s called The Church in Surrey and White Rock: The Untold Story, published by The SWR Publishing Company, and was released June 16 at a book launch at Regent Christian Academy in Sullivan that was attended by about 100 people. It’s available in local book stores.
“These days it is sometimes difficult for particular groups, in this case Christian churches and Christian ministries, to be able to communicate outside their walls. If they do, often they’ll be misunderstood or they’ll be ignored,” said Whalley resident Lloyd Mackey, one of the book’s three editors.
Chapters of this $20 book cover the history of Christian churches in Surrey and White Rock, and local ministries that help the needy, seniors, refugees and immigrants. One chapter looks at Christian ministries that provide health care, while others are about local Christians in business, Christians in the arts, and their contributions to political affairs.
It focuses primarily on the protestant church. “If I have my way, if another edition came out, we’d deal specifically with Catholics,” Mackey said.
Mackey is a journalist and author who worked out of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa.
The book is also edited by John H. Redekop, and Neil Bramble, who along with Mackey helped to write it. Other contributors include Frank Bucholtz, who writes a regular opinion column for Black Press; Reverend Mary-Anne Connor, the founder and president of NightShift Ministries; Surrey Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt, a former city councillor; Beverly Johnston, a K-12 teacher-on-call at Regent Christian Academy in Surrey; Ross Johnston, a chaplain at a 114-bed seniors’ complex care home; Joanne Pepper, an associate professor and coordinator of the intercultural studies program at Trinity Western University in Langley; and Perrie Peverall, who served as a chaplain at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Jack Taylor, a pastor in Faith Fellowship (Vancouver) since 1999 and Barbara Warwick, who manages the Surrey Art Gallery Association Gift Shop, also contributed to the book.
Redekop is a semi-retired university professor who has either written or edited nine books, including Politics Under God. Bramble lives in South Surrey. A teacher by profession, for 17 years Bramble edited and published The Canadian Gideon and Gideon newsletters.
Former Surrey mayor and Tory MP Dianne Watts , who wrote the back jacket copy, describes the book as a “great resource for people who are looking to understand the extensive impact the faith-based community has on our cities.
“It provides both an historical account of churches and first-hand experiences that have affected change in the community and in people’s lives,” she wrote.
Mackey said Watts “has had quite a facility for understanding what faith-based communities are about and making sure they got included in the way the city has run.”
“I would say 20 years ago, in the life of the community, Christian churches had much more influence than say Muslim mosques or Hindu or Sikh Temples,” Mackey said. “But that’s partly demographics.”
Does he think the “Christian voice” is being lost in the mix in Canada?
“I think the book tends to address it by saying look, we want to try to be a voice.”
The book also includes a list of 336 churches and 39 other worship centres in Surrey and White Rock. The SWR Publishing Company, Mackey said, is “a little outfit” the committee put together for the purpose of publishing this book, which has a print run of about 2,000 copies.
Asked about its target audience, Mackey replied that “some of it would be leadership, whether you’re talking about community leadership or faith-based leadership, and others who are interested in the history of faith-based, particularly Christian, but broadly Christian faith-based institutions in Surrey and White Rock.”
“This could be done in a lot of cities,” he said.
Mackey cited an Angus Reid study that indicates “in a community general, at one end you have 20 per cent of seriously committed people, another 30 per cent beside them that are — and this is any religion, not just Christianity, it’s across-the-board religion — 30 per cent who will be adherents to a faith but not very strongly committed, maybe they attend church once or twice. This is across Canada. The next 30 per cent are spiritually uncertain. They might believe in God, they aren’t quite sure, but that’s 30 per cent of the population. The last 30 per cent are people who definitely be non-believers, who would not believe in any supreme being. So you’ve got this spectrum.”
“Again, I think it depends on the church and some of the personalities involved. There are some people who want very much to reach out and get other people to understand them, and some very strongly, and will do so in such a way they seem also oppressive in their form of outreach. And others are very pastoral and try to say to themselves, when they are in their pulpit on Sunday, how can I reach out to the people who are here?”
“You’ll find small-c conservative churches tend to emphasize certain issues, if they’re getting into issues, and small-l liberal churches are onto other issues, social justice issues, things like that. To me it’s always interesting to be able to correlate these things, you know. I see churches that tend to isolate themselves, and then I see others.”
“I feel good about it,” Mackey said of the book. “I’d say my feelings are evolving because I keep on running into people who say, you know, I really want to read that book.”