A major milestone
The Salvation Army Trinity Bay South celebrates 120 years
A rush of traffic is seen along Main Road in Dildo on Sunday morning.
The parking lot of The Salvation Army Trinity Bay South citadel overflows with traffic and vehicles need to pull off the road in search of a parking spot.
The large grey and white building is bustling with activity as all age groups hastily maneuver toward the main entrance.
Most are members of the church who have not seen each other since the previous Sunday. Some are newcomers checking out the corps for the first time.
Voices of the congregation radiate through the long hall leading to the sanctuary.
A contemporary band featuring guitars, a piano and a drum set starts up while socialization continues.
The relaxed atmosphere is apparent before the service, but when it commences, voices hush, and worship begins.
This is a typical Sunday at the citadel, says Major Chris Pilgrim, the church pastor.
There is a social aspect to the gatherings, he says. People attend both to worship and to keep connected to the neighbours they have built relationships with during their time at the church.
The Army celebrates each passing year in May, always during Victoria Day long weekend, but every five years they do a little more to mark big milestones and this year is no exception.
After 120 years with a local presence, the Trinity Bay South Corps celebrated with two days of events with the Jesus.”
The first event was family focus day.
“We invited children and families of the church to come and join us,” Major Chris said. “We have games and crafts and all sorts of activities.”
Families take part in the churchinfluenced events connected to the weekend’s theme so they can connect socially and spiritually with each other.
A banquet is held for the congregation in the evening, and this year the Dildo Lions Club hosted some 270 guests.
Among the special guests were two notable attendees who are no
Saturday’s stranger the Trinity Bay South Corps. Commissioners Max and Lenora Feener were officers of the local chapter from 1970-72.
They have since moved up the ranks within the Army, and are currently stationed out of Atlanta, Georgia as territory leaders in the United States.
Other guests included Army officers from across the Avalon and divisional leaders Majors Frank and Rita Pittman from headquarters in St. John’s.
Church still thriving
In a time where many churches in outport Newfoundland are closing, The Salvation Army Trinity Bay South Corps is still going strong. Success did not come easy, and many smaller churches closed their doors to integrate, said Byron Brooks, bandmaster for the church’s brass band and 40-year member of the church.
“We’re living in a different age for sure,” Major Chris added. “It works well, the pulling together of all of those churches over the years have proven to be a happy marriage for the most part.”
Times have changed since the church’s inception, and the location is not as important as it once was, since travelling a distance is no longer an issue for most.
“For each little town to have a church, they’d never maintain it,” Brooks explained. “Especially now since everyone has a car.”
Some issues still face the aging population of the citadel, including the fear of bringing children to the church and the competition with other activities.
“I have heard young couples won’t bring their children to church because they’re afraid they are going to run around and make noise,” Major Chris noted. “My response to that is ‘ Who cares? Bring them anyway.’ They might be getting a tidbit of something that will help nurture them into mature children who have some discipline or morals to act upon.”
He says children are not expected to sit down and keep quiet in his church, and all young families and young people are welcome.
“Years ago, there wasn’t a lot to do on a Sunday morning but to go to church. Look at all we are competing against; recreation such as hockey and social media, and try and compare to it. It’s a tough battle.”
Sharing the faith
Major Chris takes great pride in seeing community residents develop through his church sermons.
“We’ve seen a number of people come into the church since our fouryear stay so far, and we’ve seen quite a lifestyle change in them,” he stated. “We want to get the message of the Bible out there, the gospel out there. The reason we exist is to make a transforming influence in the lives of people.”
“For my wife and I it’s not just an appointment to the church, but to the community, and we like being part of the community as a whole.”