Mission – snapshots of faith
BY PETER BIGGS
According to the 2016 Census, Mission’s population is 38,833. Incorporated in 1892, this year the District is celebrating it’s 125th anniversary. mission.ca/125-2
Mission has a long history of Indiginous People. Xa:ytem is a site, (35087 Lougheed Highway, Mission) thought to be 5,000 years old that includes an archaeological habi- tation site and an ancient Sto:lo transformer stone. The identifying feature is the transformer stone which sits on sloping, low-lying ground, formerly a beach on the northern banks of the Fraser River.
The name ‘Mission City’ was chosen due to the site’s proximity to the historic St. Mary’s Mission of the Oblate order just east of town, which was founded in 1868.
In the 1960’s Highway 1 was built, south of the Fraser River. Population and commerce followed with Langley and Abbotsford becoming prominent.
Mission lost Eatons then the Fraser Valley’s main departmental store. Main Street businesses followed with people preferring the new shopping malls only 20 minutes drive away across the Fraser river. The shift was compounded with the opening of the new Mission/ Abbotsford bridge in the mid-1970s. However, Mission has retained a small town feel and authenticity with timber mills still prominent.
Sociologically Mission has some similarities to neighbouring Maple Ridge with more than 60 per cent commuting to work elsewhere, making Mission also something of a ‘bedroom community’.
It’s population is also primarily European Caucasian with a low percentage of visible minorities.
Mission is also noted as the home of a long-established professional dragstrip, Mission Raceway Park, along with the idyllic Fraser River Heritage Park that overlooks the mighty Fraser River and hosts weekly summer concerts and the highly regarded annual Mission Folk Music Festival, now in its 30th year.
There are two large penal facilities, one minimum security, and the other medium security prison, both in Ferndale. In addition Mission is the closest town to two other prisons at Mats- qui and Aggasi.
There are around 22 churches in Mission. We spoke to Cedar Valley Mennonite Senior Pastor and Mission Ministerial facilitator Dan Rempel. He has been in Mission for 17 years. “ There is very warm camaraderie between pastors in the town,” he said.
“We have a monthly breakfast meeting but informally a number of us con- nect more frequently. Good Friday seven churches came together for a ser- vice, and around 100 from various churches got up for an Easter Sunrise service.”
Mission Men in Unity is organized by Ron St. Hilaire who attends Cedar Valley. They gather more than 40 men from various churches three or four times a year.
Mission coffee shop supports mission
New Heights Community Church was planted in 1996, and currently meets at the Ecole des Deux Rives School (7674 Stave Lake). Since 2003 they have rented a downtown space to serve the marginalized, eventually purchasing the three story building at 33129 Railway. The upper level has five rental apartments, the First Avenue storefront is soon to open as The Penny Coffeeshop.
The lower level (ground level at the back on Railway Avenue) has a large multipurpose room.
“The Penny we see as targeting a young adult crowd. All profits will go to support activities, mostly focused on the marginalized held in the downstairs Copper Hall. Hey why buy your coffee elsewhere when you can also support the poor!,” he said.
The Copper Hall already offers a range of services and ministries to the marginalized, such as daily AA, Young Life youth group and various rentals. When renovations finish in coming months it will also host New Heights Sunday gathering.
With strong collaborations with the District’s social services and other churches, the coffee shop is hoped to effect strong connections with the Millennial generation and will include an area for young kids. newheights.ca
Mission Christian schools
• ValleyChristianSchool has around 200 Students (K-12) valleychristianschool.ca
• The Westminster Abbey and Seminary of Christ the King overlooks Mission. They run a farm, have a high school and college & seminary for men.