The NORTH SHORE – snapshots of faith
BY PETER BIGGS
table of contents
North Shore is revered for it’s natural beauty. Mountains and wilderness are to the immediate north and breathtaking views of Vancouver and the Burrard Inlet to the south. Three Indigenous peoples have populated the North Shore for thousands of years…
• Mission Indian Reserve, on Wagg and Mosquito Creeks, bounded on the north and east by the City of North Vancouver and home to a National Historic site of Canada – Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church (an impressive 1884 Gothic Revival mission church and the oldest extant church in British Columbia).
• Seymour Creek Indian Reserve, on the right bank of Seymour Creek, near the mouth of Second Narrows.
• Capilano Indian Reserve at First Narrows, at the north end of Lions Gate Bridge.
District of North Vancouver – Pop: 85,395
Encompassing Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour to the north e District stretches from Deep Cove west to the Capilano River.
City of North Vancouver – Pop: 52,898
Not unlike Langley who has both a ‘City’ and ‘Township’ (with separate Councils) e City of North Van exists within e District with its own Council. Of the three areas it is the most urbanized. Lonsdale Quay Market has enjoyed commercial success aided by it’s accessibility to the SeaBus terminal at the base of Lonsdale Avenue.
West Vancouver – Population: 42,473 (2016 Census)
The iconic First Narrows bridge crosses from Stanley Park to West Vancouver. The municipality of West Vancouver stretches from the
Capilano River to Horseshoe Bay. With it’s panoramic view of English Bay, beaches, mountains and small town charm the area is arguably one of the most sought after urban places to live in Canada. Indeed the British Properties area was at one time thought to be Canada’s richest urban real estate.
North Shore’s total population in 2016 was 180,319.
What is striking is that the population of West Van and the District of North Van barely has shifted in the past 5 years (-0.1% & 1.8%) however the City of North Van grew by 9.8 percent. According to the 2016 Census, it is amongst the fastest growing communities in the Lower Mainland (Langley at 12.6 per cent, Surrey at 10.6 per cent and Coquitlam, 9.8 per cent).
The North Shore has a high proportion of seniors. West Vancouver’s Park Royal Shopping Centre is Canada’s first shopping mall. Horseshoe Bay’s BC Ferries Terminal is one of the main connecting points between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island.
Access to and from
Second Narrows Bridge is a vertical lift railway bridge that crosses the Burrard Inlet and connects East Vancouver with the North Shore. As the name suggests, it is located at the second narrowing of the Burrard Inlet.
Lions Gate Bridge (pictured above) opened in 1938. It has three reversible lanes, the use of which is indicated by signals. The centre lane changes direction to accommodate for traffic patterns. Traffic volume on the bridge is 60,000 – 70,000 vehicles per day.
SeaBus celebrated 40 years of service last June.
Highway 1, part of the Trans-Canada Highway (often referred to as the “Upper Levels Highway”) passes east-west across the entire North Shore. Lonsdale Avenue is a significant north-south road intersecting Hwy 1 and leading down to the Seabus and Lonsdale Quay.
recreation & wealth
There are three mountain ski resorts: Cypress, Grouse and Seymour. ey are all around 1450 m in altitude. (Furthur in- land along the coastal Sea to Sky Highway is the wolrd class resort of
Whister/Blackcomb). All three resorts are visible from afar at night, being clearly seen from Vancouver and beyond as evenly spaced across the mountain range to the north.
The Grouse Grind (pictured) on Cypress is a steep and challenging 2.9 Km hike that starts at an eleva- tion of 300 metres and climbs, almost straight up, to 1,100 metres. e total number of stairs is 2,830.Most take 90 minutes or so, the very fit can do it in 30!
The North Shore is identified with wealth, however it does have social need (see ‘ The Harvest Project’ below).
There are some 40+ churches. With a couple of exeptions they are all small in number. Perhaps because of the area’s unique challenges pastors have often enjoyed a strong camraderie.
North Shore has a significant Persian population and one known Iranian church.
Sutherland Church and St. Timothy’s Anglican enjoy a unique relationship. St. Timothy’s rents space from Sutherland (it’s service is at 9 am). Both churches are ‘evangelical’ but come from quite different traditions. Sutherland is ‘Brethren’ and St. Timothy’s ‘Anglican’. The respective Pastors are friends. This has advanced an unprecedented congregational collaboration. Ken Bell (St. Timothy’s) states, “we’re quite happy if our people attend each other’s programs, step in for each other pulpit wise and from time to time have joint worship services.”
They are currently pioneering together an outreach called ‘Tasting Room Theology’ where they go to a local business and offer to bring 20-30 new folks in for a promo presentation on the business (the last one was an Ice Cream store). After the business presentation (with free tastings of course!) a guest speaker might give a short talk. Church people are very comfortable inviting neighbours, and it is a ‘soft’ introduction to things ‘spiritual’. “It is really ‘pre-evangelistic’,” Bell said.
“Friday nights is joint kids and teens, we also have done joint sermon series. Ken is more of a ‘details’ guy but we spark off each other!” Sutherland’s Senior Pastor Todd Wiebe shares.
Home to 3,680 (2016 Census) Bowen grows by about 1,500 part-time residents in summer, along with thousands of short-term and day visitors. The island became a Municipality (with Mayor and Council) in 1999.
The local economy is largely dependent on residents commuting on the 10 minute ferry ride to West Vancouver. According to its website ‘Bowen’s population differs markedly from the rest of BC, with substantially more people aged 40 to 65, and under age 15…’
Bowen Island is served by a number of small businesses including marinas, cafes, gift shops, grocery stores, a post office, pharmacy, restaurants, garden and ower shops, and a building supply yard. The commercial sector is primarily located within Snug Cove and Artisan Square.
There are four small Christian churches on Bowen. www.cateshillchapel.com
lighthouse harbour ministries
Lighthouse reaches out to seafarers by boarding ships in dock and also picking up sailers and driving them to one of two Seafarers’s Centres in North Vancouver and the Fraser Surrey Docks. There they enjoy socializing with volunteers and can obtain assistance, literature and enjoy recreational activities.
“Most have their primary physical needs met on their ships, but feel the isolation and separation from families, with most sailings lasting 9 months,” Chaplain Paul Ratsoy says. Lighthouse also shares the Gospel and distributes custom bibles. “Ship’s crews are usually around 20. Although many sailors are from the Philippines, they come from all over the world and sometimes from ‘restricted’ countries. It’s an amazing opportunity!” sealight.org
north shore school of mission
A recent and exciting development for the area is the establishment of North Shore School of Mission, headed by Anthony Brown – Lead Pastor at Hillside Church. e school shares premises with Hillside in Lynn Valley.
“We’ve lots of older teens and 20s that are eager to grow in their faith. Plus there are lots of theologically gifted Pastors.
Instead of these young people leaving our community for a short term mission, we wanted to provide a good experience of ‘ministry’ here, along with the passion of a short term mission,” Brown says. “We’ve worked with Columbia Bible College so our students can get a year of college cred- its and partner with overseas Missions for them to have a month there.”
The school offers three ways to learn:
1. An accredited ministry apprenticeship program, aimed at helping young people explore the possibilities of future work in church ministry and missions, while giving them academic credit towards a Bible college bachelor’s degree.
2. An accredited part-time graduate program, in which church leaders and members can learn about joining the mission of God in their neighbourhood.
3. Courses, classes and special events for everyone, to stretch faith, explore Christian beliefs and grow disciples. Cost is very reasonable at $2,000/year (normally the cost of credits would be $8,540). They serve an internship in a local North Shore church. In lieu of wages, students serving for 10 or more hours per week will have a signicant portion of their tuition paid by their placement church (this amounts to about $4,500). is certainly amounts to a win/win for both student and church.
The school anticipates serving up to 12 students.
Public courses – Mondays
In addition to full time students, the School offers 10 week courses open to the public on Monday evenings. The last one attracted 30 people.
( The next is ‘Global Missions’ with John Hall – Executive Director of MissionsFest – April 9 6:30pm Cost $60)
Brown comments, “The geography of the North Shore is an aid to significant local inter-congregational shared mission. I know we have to collaborate for the Kingdom, it’s a geographic gift from God!”
the harvest project
While the community enjoys overall prosperity, current visitors to Harvest Project reflect the make-up of the North Shore – including young families, individuals, newcomers, and those with chronic health issues. The high cost of housing, the realities of single-parent families, and the challenging job-market, have intensified everyday struggles for many who now live on the margins of homelessness within neighbourhoods of the North Shore.
Recent surveys show that thousands of North Shore residents are forced to spend more than sixty percent of family income on accommodation. This situation can force parents to choose between remaining housed and providing food for their families.
“The kind of hurt and need we see is more camouflaged than other ‘raw’ street areas. On the North Shore one in five households are headed by a lone parent,” says Kevin Lee – Development Officer.
Harvest is unique in that they encourage clients toward one on one assessment. “Initially they are ‘triaged’ in reception, if they have emergency needs they meet with a trained ‘Needs Volunteer’ for ‘pre-assessment’.
Most however return and meet with a ‘Chronic Care Partner’ for a full assessment. At such times goals are set and the focus is on moving forward. Prayer is often a part of that,” Lee says.
Harvest often cross-refers clients with North Shore Community Services.
Harvest sees around 250 family groups (up to 500 or more individuals) a month. They have five full-time staff and 140 or so weekly volunteers.
‘good and faithful servants’
Valley Church’s Owen Scott (right) seen here with fellow veteran North Shore Pastor John Hardy. (Hillside Baptist)
Owen has just retired after 31 years and was honoured at the recent monthly North Shore Pastor’s Prayer time.
One pastor described him, “Owen ‘Grand Apostle of the North Shore’ Scott. Consummate shepherd. Total Kingdom guy. Beautiful legacy of love and faithfulness. He’s taught us all the importance of the long game. What a run! I love him.”
James Bonney of Shore Church says, “Owen Scott is my hero and was the first person to say how thankful he was that more church planters were coming to the North Shore! So glad you are honouring him.”
Lions Gate Christian Academy
This Christian school is situated in the Seymour area of North Vancouver. Over its 20 years the school has moved five times. Principal Adam Reid says, “Plymouth Road Elementary School closed in 2010, we moved in to the premises in 2014 on a lease from the District of North Vancouver for 10 years,” he said. “We are asking for prayer that we are either able to extend the lease or nd land to build.”
Of the over 300 students from Grades K to 12 approximally a third are from visible minorities, with 36 international students.
the story of the new SHORE CHURCH
James Bonny is Lead Pastor of a new church that meets at the Park & Tilford Cineplex.
Five and a half years ago he was a ‘church planting apprentice’ working with Norm Funk at Westside Church in Vancouver. A church member hap-
pened to give him a $100 gift certificate to a coffee shop in West Vancouver. This would lead to him spending time there studying. “I would overhear conversations that reflected a lot of life dissatisfaction,” he shared.
“I began to talk to people there and got a ‘burden’ – that led to prayer walks. One day my wife and I went to a movie at Park & Tilford. I got a strong sense of excitement and emotion that this was where ‘my church’ was going to be (we were living in Kitsilano at the time).”
As a satellite or ‘campus’ of Westside Church they started 5 1/2 years ago with around 40 from Westside. They grew gradually (the church is now around 200) with lots of ‘de-churched’ or outright ‘lapsed’ people coming. “We do however see a lot of turnover, mainly because of housing issues, with people moving out to places like Vernon or Squamish or the Fraser Valley.”
March 22 marked the official commissioning of Shore Church that will no longer be a ‘campus of Westside’ and be independent. Bonny greatly appreciates the other Pastors on the North Shore. “Unfortunately the main Westside Church staff meeting conflicts with the North Shore Pastors gathering, but I do see us as part of the wider church on the North Shore,” he says.