Black tie meets tartan as Knox Presbyterian Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone.
The Black Tie & Tartan Potluck takes place Saturday and the Rev. Dr. Teresa Charlton said it’s a chance to show off the best of parishioners’ cooking with the fun of dressing up.
“When I realized that it has been 25 years since the laying of the cornerstone, I said ‘I think that sounds like a party,’” she said. “We have turned it into a weekend of fun. It’s a chance to celebrate and feel good about the work we’ve done.”
While the cornerstone for the current church was laid 25 years ago, Knox’s beginnings go back to February 1892, when the new Presbyterian Church was dedicated.
According to The Vernon News, “The first Presbyterian Church, opened for public service on Sunday, is the first place of worship erected in Vernon and occupies a commanding view on Mara Avenue.”
In the written history of the church, A Century of Service, Ross Innes writes about Langill’s arrival in Vernon.
“On his arrival in Vernon, the weary Rev. Langill headed for the Victoria Hotel. He was hungry and tired. A somewhat inebriated patron, upon discovering his occupation, greeted him rather bluntly, ‘You have struck a pretty tough place, parson, and don’t you forget it!’
“That settled it, Rev. Langill decided then and there he would stay in Vernon. It was 1890 and Rev. Langill was responding to a call to start a new Mission for Vernon and south. The year before, Rev. John Knox Wright had arrived at Spallumcheen. He soon decided another missionary was needed for the area, and Langill was chosen.
The minister was looking for a climate more suited to his poor health and found the Okanagan to his liking. His wife and infant daughter arrived soon after from Winnipeg, and Langill began a busy schedule of ministry.
Each Sunday he preached at Benvoulin in the morning, at Postill’s ranch in the afternoon and in the evening in Vernon. According to church history he covered the 30 miles with often half broken horses in harness, over poor roads, up and down the hills. As well as extensive home visiting, he sometimes preached at Lumby.
The modern version of Knox Presbyterian Church began Oct. 12, 1937, with Rev. George Sidney Barber as its first minister, who at the time also ministered to Armstrong and Salmon Arm. Barber conducted Sunday services in the morning at Armstrong, at 3 p.m. in Salmon Arm and at 7 p.m. in Vernon.
The Sunday evening services were held in the Scottish Daughters’ Hall until a church was built in 1943 on 28th Street on a site now occupied by Justice Park.
With the laying of the cornerstone in October 1989, Knox began life at its current location, 3701-32nd Ave.
Charlton began her ministry at Knox in July 2012, following the retirement of Rev. Dr. Edward Millin, who had served Knox since November of 1993.
The Black Tie & Tartan Potluck begins Saturday at 4:15 p.m. with sparkling cider, followed by dinner at 5 p.m., with entertainment to follow by the Gospel Quartet from Enderby.
“We were going to have a catered meal but someone said ‘let’s have an old-fashioned potluck instead,’” said Charlton. “It’s a chance to stir up fond memories, create laughter and enjoy food and fellowship together.
“You are encouraged to wear formal attire, but as always, it is not necessary. For those who want to pull out that old gown from the back of the closet, go for it.”
There will be a red carpet and Charlton’s son Trent, an avid photographer, will be assisted by local photographer Vivian Merchant to capture those “red carpet” moments as guests arrive.
Gloria Fitt, a Mary Kay representative, will set up a makeup station for those who want to get glammed up for the big gala.
Sunday’s celebration begins with morning worship followed by cake and coffee in the hall.
“Our Sunday morning worship service will combine the best of our Reformed tradition, with much music and singing,” said Charlton.
This is a free event, but everyone attending is asked to bring a potluck dish to share. Please call the church office at 250-542-8613 if you wish to attend.