Who We Are
1960 to 2020
— Celebrating 60 years of God’s Faithfulness —
The history of Richmond Presbyterian Church reaches back to the early days of the pioneers in this part of the world. The first Presbyterian services were held in the home of Hugh McRoberts on Sea Island in 1861. In 1886 a church building was erected and dedicated to the glory of God. In 1889, a preaching station was established on the south side of Lulu Island (No. 2 Rd. & Steveston Hwy) and in Steveston itself. In 1906, the South Arm church was built.
By 1910, the Marpole area was where the largest population growth was taking place. The Richmond Presbyterian Church moved to the corner of 71st Avenue & Hudson Street in 1911. After the 1925 church union controversy and the formation of the United Church of Canada, no Presbyterian church remained on either Sea or Lulu Island.
A Presbyterian presence did not return until 1958 when the Presbytery of Westminster employed a student for the ministry, Mr. Tony Plomp, to survey the island’s residents. In 1959 services were started in the Garden City School auditorium and a congregation was constituted on May 29, 1960 with 34 founding members. The congregation eventually moved to the old vacant Richmond United Church (formerly Methodist) at Cambie & River Roads (presently the Chapel in Minoru Park). Soon afterward, property was purchased on No.2 Road and the sod turned on September 9, 1962, with the building dedicated December 16, 1962.
A minister was appointed by the Board of World Mission in September 1960, and the Rev. Gordon Bastedo began the work of expanding the ministry of the congregation. He served until 1967, and in 1968 the Rev. Tony Plomp of Calvin-Goforth Church in Saskatoon was called. That same year the Marpole congregation amalgamated with the Richmond church. Three of the members of that congregation had been members of the original congregation of the Presbyterian Church on Sea Island (Mr. & Mrs. Gus Grauer and Mrs. Pearl McKay).
In 1970 a church hall was added to the original building on the north side, and in 1975 the sanctuary was extended on the west side. In 1981 the east side of the church was extended to provide additional office space. In 1968 the first manse on Francis Road was purchased. This was sold in 1977 and the present manse at 4020 Lancelot Drive was purchased. In 1996, the congregation purchased the property south and adjacent to the church, at 7151 No. 2 Road. It served to house Jim Walton and his family, later Heather Winters of RPC and Mary Fontaine of Hummingbird Ministries.
Since 1980 the following have served as part-time or full-time assistants: the late Dr. Charles Maclean, the late Dr. William Bell, the Rev. Dr. Sylvia Cleland, and Mr. Jim Walton. The congregation has also had the privilege of supervising student interns from the Vancouver School of Theology, Regent College and Princeton Seminary. In 2015, The Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, principal of VST, became Minister in Association at RPC. We benefit from his preaching, study leadership, advice, and support.
During the summer months each year since 2002, we have had the opportunity of hiring summer student staff members through a student employment program of the Federal Government of Canada.
Two children raised in the congregation went on to serve in ministry: Doug Goodwin was ordained May 20, 1980 at
RPC; Janie Goodwin has served as Director of Youth Ministries in a number of congregations. Paddy Eastwood, a long-time member, was ordained Associate Minister at Haney Presbyterian Church in 2015.
On July 31, 2004, after serving 36 years in this congregation, the Rev. Dr. Tony Plomp retired. Dr. Plomp continued to serve as a Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada until his passing in 2016. On October 2, 2005, the Rev. Frances Savill was inducted as minister of Richmond Presbyterian Church, coming to the congregation from Thornbury, Ontario, with her husband, Mark, and children Jonathan, Sarah and Rebekah. In January 2008, we welcomed Mat Baker as Director of Contemporary Worship, to help plan and lead the new 9:00am contemporary service.
During Frances’ tenure, the congregation was re-examining its vision and sense of mission. Workshops and consultations culminated in a vision for a more missional RPC and a new building better suited to our calling. A capital campaign in 2012 raised $800,000, and in 2013, the 7151 No. 2 Rd. property was sold. Plans for the renovation were finalized in 2014, with a budget of $1.8 million dollars. Key features were a larger, pillar-free hall, commercial-grade kitchen, enhanced street presence, central entry hall, and new Fireside lounge. Our last service in the old building was held Sunday, July 13, 2014. During construction, we met for worship at 11:00am in the Ukrainian Community Centre at 5311 Francis Road.
July 13, 2014 was also Frances’ last day in the pulpit, as she had been called to Calvin Presbyterian in North Bay, Ontario. We found ourselves both vacant and without a church home, but God continued to be with us.
Renovations were completed in August, 2015, and we returned to the new building on Sunday, September 6, with joy and gratitude. Shortly after, on October 25, the Rev. Victor Kim from Grace Presbyterian, Calgary, preached for the call. The call was sustained, and Victor was inducted February 7, 2016. We also welcomed wife Sophie, son Jacob, and daughter Hannah. Victor brings abundant energy and vision to RPC, and is active in the community, Presbytery, and VST.
We praise God for the rich history of our congregation, and we celebrate our vision, captured in our 2007 vision statement, as we move into the future to serve God together: “God gathers us to grow as Christ’s servants sent to each other, our community and the world.” May God continue to bless the ministries and the people of Richmond Presbyterian Church.