Bette Birmingham

My association with St. Olave’s goes back a long way. When I was 21 Gladys Kirk (then deaconess at Grace Church-on-the-Hill where I was a member) introduced me to the evening Lent programmes and special services at St. Olave’s. In 1963 I moved to Port Credit but I continued to attend these services. The priests (Rev’d Wigmore and Rev’d Rose) and parishioners were very welcoming and friendly. They made me feel as if I really belonged to the St. Olave’s Church family. 

When in 1997 I moved back to Toronto, to the Swansea area, I became a member of St. Olave’s. At first I was not a very active person. Mostly St. Olave’s was my place of Sunday worship, my “comfortable pew.” For many years I enjoyed just being a part of the Prayer Book services in the beauty and serenity of such a warm, welcoming, beautiful Church, and going for lunch after the service with the “lunch bunch.”  I still attend the Lent programmes.

One of the many blessings I received from St. Olave’s is my friendship with the Powell family. That all started when Jessie decided that I should help her organize a “mini caravan” to raise money for St. Olave’s. We did this three years in a row, with several members of the congregation manning a booth from the country of their heritage, providing a pot luck supper and entertainment. I can still picture Louise and Lawrence Rennie doing Scottish dancing on the stage! 

I joined the Greeters group where I had the privilege of working with, and getting to know, David Pickering, Tom Elliott and Sheila Tait. As a greeter one meets so many of the wonderful people who attend St. Olave’s. I now have the privilege of working with Judy Sher as my partner.

When Rev’d Burrows needed a treasurer for the Hunger Patrol I decided that was something I could do. David accepted me and I enjoyed doing this service until he retired. Today I am the treasurer of St. Olave’s ACW which keeps me active helping to raise money to assist with the upkeep of this beautiful Church and for Outreach. Joining the Mary and Martha group was another blessing.

Do I really know what St. Olave’s, with its Gothic beauty, wonderful organ, glorious stained glass windows, historic font, prayer book services and warm friendly people really means to me? Well, in the past two months I think we have all come to know much more clearly what our beloved St. Olave’s means to us! I know I certainly have! I MISS MY CHURCH FAMILY- singing together; praying together; listening to the sermons; greeting each other with a smile, a handshake and yes, if you know Dale, even a hug! I miss the smiles that go across the church aisles between parishioners. I miss seeing the children running up the aisle to sit for their story. I miss the coffee hours where I get to chat with people I would otherwise not know. I miss our ACW executive meetings and the support we give each other. I miss the Mary and Martha meetings. I miss the smiles and greetings I get from the Addus group as I pass through their area during the week. I even miss cleaning up after the Evensong suppers! I miss all of you!

Yes, I worship at home, thanks to the brilliant modern technology of today and the dedication of Rev’d Rob, Rev’d Alexandra and our Wardens, but it is not quite the same. I don’t have that same feeling of spiritual peace surrounding me! I don’t experience that warm feeling of love and fellowship surrounding me! My Mother once told me that we can worship God anywhere and she was right. But I will be so happy and grateful to get back to the warm “comfortable pews” of my beloved St. Olave’s and be able to worship with my Christian family again.
St. Olave’s is a rich Blessing in my life. It is my Spiritual home. It is my large Christian Family! It is my Strength!