This past summer in Pitt Meadows, B.C., 70-year-old Richard Day sat down with a man five decades his junior and spilled far more than he had expected to. Tristan Allan, 16, interviewed Day as part of the History Project: Stories of Faith and Community, an intergenerational initiative by Pitt Meadows United.
“He brought a real open mind, and he just drew things out of me,” says Day, one of the church’s board members. They talked about the history of the area and the church, and his personal faith story. With Allan’s help, Day recalled a neighbourhood Sunday school he attended in 1953. “I came away from those lessons with a deep feeling of joy, which led to years of service and faith development in the church,” Day says.
The project was led by Finn Leahy, 24, a recent geography graduate from Simon Fraser University. Three teens, including Allan, worked alongside him from July to early September. They conducted 30 interviews over Zoom, and the results have been compiled into a small booklet. The full recordings are posted on a website that is currently only available to members of the congregation, but will be public soon. The $5,000 project was funded by the Westminster Presbytery ProVision Fund and a United Church of Canada Foundation Seeds of Hope grant.
“Now the congregation has a pretty in-depth history of people’s faith experiences,” says Leahy. The son of a diaconal minister, he is involved with young adult ministry through Pacific Mountain regional council. “We found there were lots of generational differences,” Leahy says. For example, he interviewed a former leader of Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT), a group he’d never heard of before, and learned how it was a huge part of a lot of women’s lives and early faith experiences.
Thanks to the work of these four young people, those stories will be available for future generations.
This story first appeared in Broadview’s January/February 2021 issue with the title “Youth project records the history of British Columbia church.”
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