The congregation that I've been serving (St. Paul) has been in relationship with a small congregation (Lord of Life) on Haida Gwaii for the past 20 years. Once a month, St. Paul sends either it's pastor or intern for a weekend to provide pastoral care and worship leadership. Last month was my first trip over, so my supervising pastor went over. Normally, we would have taken a float plane over Saturday and the ferry back on Monday, but due to overbooking on the float plane, we had to take the ferry over on Thursday. This meant extra time on the islands, so we took his truck over and spent Saturday touring the islands.
|The rainforest near Grey Bay|
|A Haida boat|
|Tow Hill near Massat|
|Tow Hill again|
|The view about halfway up Tow Hill|
|The view from Tow Hill|
|Another view from Tow Hill|
|St Mary's Spring carving|
|Lord of Life community church in Sandspit|
As I write this article, I am sitting near a large window, overlooking Shingle Bay. It is raining, like it often does on the northwest coast. Shingle Bay is located between Sandspit and Skidegate, two of the small towns on the group of islands called Haida Gwaii, which is about 110 nautical miles west of Prince Rupert. Sandspit is home to less than 300 people and to Lord of Life Community Church. Lord of Life is not a Lutheran church, but is supported by one. My internship congregation, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in <town>, understands their mission and ministry to include supporting Lord of Life. When Lord of Life needed kitchen cabinets, a member of St. Paul's built some cabinets, brought them over on the ferry, and installed them. When Lord of Life needed a new roof, a group of men from St. Paul's came over and fixed the roof. Twenty years later when Lord of Life need a new roof again, St. Paul's started a fund raising campaign with the synod and helped to raise over 20 thousand dollars to have the roof replaced. And once a month, St. Paul's sends over either their pastor or their intern to have a worship service with Lord of Life.
This is my first trip over to Haida Gwaii, so my supervisor, Pastor <name>, has come across with me. Because the float plane that flies over was booked, we took the 7 hour ferry across Hecate Strait. It was on this ferry that I saw my first whale. It was also when I learned that I quickly feel sick as soon as the ferry starts moving. I may not have enjoyed the ferry ride, but once here, I have quickly fallen in love with Haida Gwaii. Pastor <name> took me from the north end of islands to climb Tow Hill, and then to Balance Rock near Skidegate and St. Mary's Spring near the Tlell community, and then to Gray Bay, which is just south of Sandpit.
My favorite part of Sandspit is the people. Lord of Life may only have 10 active members, but those members are varied and unique. There is the retired US sailor who was in World War II, who has written several books along with his now late wife. There is the Filipino matriarch who holds court from her hospital bed. There is the woman who I stayed with who wanted talk theology with me at 11:00 at night and US politics with me over breakfast. Everyone here has a story to tell and life filled with adventure.
And that's been my experience so far in British Columbia: I may be surrounded by beautiful mountains and oceans, but it is the people who I have grown to love. My congregation in Prince Rupert is filled with loving and caring people who have an excellent definition of what ministry is and how to care for others- whether it's caring for each other in the congregation, or those in the hospital, or by sending their ministers out to care for those who cannot afford a minister.