1920 to 1934
For information about the early days of Holy Trinity, we are indebted to the late Ernest Vare Harraway, who was Church Secretary, Treasurer and Sidesman for 29 years. In 1964, after retiring as a Customs Agent at Blaine/Douglas, he wrote a fascinating history of Holy Trinity. He noted that White Rock was a quiet little seaside village in 1920, with a population of 500 when the Reverend W.M. Holdom arrived via horse and buggy from Surrey Centre to conduct services in a small two-room school on the beach.
In 1921 it was decided to build a church on Victoria Avenue, so work began with one paid carpenter and the rest volunteer labor. It seated about 80 and was dedicated by Archbishop A.U. dePencier on May 1, 1921, with 68 worshipers in attendance. Rev. Holdom stayed for five years, then was succeeded for two-year periods by Rev. R.S. Varley, Rev. L. J. Thompson, and Rev. W.E. Daniel. These were depression days, with Holy Trinity still an assisted three-point parish, including Crescent Beach (on its own in 1953) and St. Matthew’s at Halls Prairie (closed in 1958).
1935 to 1949
In September 1935 Rev. H.U. Oswald arrived from All Saints, Mission and stayed until 1939, when Rev. W.R. Jeffcott was appointed. The depression was waning and by 1942 Holy Trinity was a self-supporting parish, with a rectory on Royal Avenue. There had been a surge of population in White Rock after the war and attendance grew, outstripping the capacity of the church. Lots at Roper and Foster were purchased in 1945, a new rectory built, then a small church hall completed in the Fall of 1948 and used for services until a new church could be built.
1950 to 1969
In May of 1950 the Bishop – Sir Francis Heathcote, appointed the Rev. E. Pitt Griffiths and tasked him to build a new church and to revitalize the spirit in the Parish. At a congregational meeting held Feb. 22, 1952, with 115 present, the Rector and Church Committee were empowered to go ahead with plans for a new church. It was built at a cost of $30,000, not including the huge amount of volunteer labor. By November 1952 the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Godfrey Gower. The Dedication Service by the Bishop was held on April 21, 1954 with 375 in attendance (with the church designed to seat 250). Within four years the church was free of debt and was consecrated in October 1956.
At the Annual Vestry Meeting held on January 15, 1960, the church Committee was empowered to go ahead with plans for a new hall and extension of the church kitchen, which were all completed by October 1961. Three appeals for funds were made and by 1963 the hall was debt free and dedicated as Griffiths’Hall, in tribute to the energetic and dynamic Rev. Pitt Griffith, who remained as Rector until 1969. He continued as a faithful parishioner of Holy Trinity until his death in 1983.
1969 to 1975
In September 1969, the Reverend John Leslie Clark arrived from St. Mary’s Sapperton. Many current parishioners remember the quiet, pleasant, likeable minister, whose first decision was to personally visit every parishioner in their home. His wife Georgina was an exceptional seamstress, making many of our chasubles and stoles, as well as being very active in the choir and ACW. Rev. Clark also led a senior youth group of teenagers that made good use of Griffiths Hall for basketball. He stayed for seven years, then in June 1976 accepted a position as Rector of St. Helen’s in Whalley.
1976 – 1991
The Reverend John Prince arrived in mid 1976 and remained as Rector for the next fifteen years. Father Prince was a deeply spiritual person, who inspired fierce loyalty in many people as a result of his pastoral and hospital visiting. The old rectory on Foster Street was sold, as the Rector, being single, preferred to live in a suite. There was a 40% growth in attendance in the late 70’s as construction boomed in White Rock and South Surrey. There are yearly reports from both the Afternoon Branch and the Evening Branch of the ACW – both well-attended and very active until 1992, when the Evening Branch was discontinued.
In 1977 a third service was added, with services then at 8 a.m. with an average of 30 in attendance; 9:30 with 52 in attendance and 11 A.M. with around 117 in attendance. A notable event of Christmas 1978 was the dedication of the new Allen Organ by Archbishop Sommerville.
In 1983 the services were revised to the current 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. In 1986 long time organist Melvin Yeo retired and was succeeded by Ulo Valdma. The BAS was introduced, with bishop-approved lay persons assisting at Communion. In 1987 a special Vestry Meeting approved the purchase of the current rectory on Roper Ave. – to be rented out. In 1989 the new Memorial Garden was created.
Rev. Prince had serious illnesses between 1989 and 1991, with priests Ron Sands and John Bethel filling in. In 1991 Rev. Prince resigned and passed away soon afterwards. The strong leadership provided by the Wardens and Parish Council members during that period, was crucial to Holy Trinity’s future.
A Canonical Committee was set up, a Parish Profile created and the position advertised. During this six-month period, the Rev. Ed Wallace, formerly of West Vancouver, took over the majority of the services, with Reverend Bruce Chamberlayne filling in.
1991 – August 2002
Rev. Brian Vickers was selected, and in October 1992, with wife Sally, son Michael and daughter Kathyrn, moved into the rectory. The resultant growth and success of Holy Trinity is – as they say – history.
May 2003 – April 2018
Rev. Neil Gray moved to White Rock from Vancouver’s West End where he had been at St. Paul’s Church since 1988. During that time he served as both associate priest and rector as well as chaplain to the Anglican patients at St. Paul’s Hospital. Prior to that, he worked at a number of parishes in London, England. He was trained for ordained ministry at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford.
As a priest, Neil placed a very high priority on the liturgy. “I agree with Matthew Fox, the theologian, that it is a great sin to bore people to death for an hour on Sunday morning and call it worship!” He says “We try to make our time together a really positive experience – involving as many people as possible with a balance of ages and gender as we equip ourselves by word and sacrament for our ministry”.