Columbia Coast Mission

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Columbia Coast Mission

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The Columbia Coast Mission was founded in 1904 through the efforts of the Rev. John Antle, its first Superintendent by the Diocese of British Columbia and the Diocese of New Westminster. It was incorporated in 1907 under the benevolent Society Act which specified that the Bishop of B.C. was the president, while the Bishop of New Westminster became the Vice President. The Columbia Coast Mission was reincorporated in 1976 following the official withdrawal of the diocese of New Westminster from the administration of the Mission. The Mission dissolved in 1983 when its finances were divided between the two dioceses. The Columbia Coast Mission now exists as two separate funds administered independently by the two dioceses. The Mission, with administrative headquarters in Victoria, B.C., was responsible for a geographic area straddling the boundaries of the Diocese of British Columbia and Diocese of New Westminster in the region of northern Vancouver Island, the adjacent islands and the mainland. Its mandate was to serve the needs of logging and native Indian communities on the coasts of Vancouver Island and the mainland, as well as to provide spiritual services. To fulfil its mandate the Mission operated ships, hospitals, old people homes, churches and planes. The social aspect of the ministry dominated under John Antle transforming gradually to become totally spiritual in 1981. The Columbia Coast Mission started its work by holding services along the coast using any building or their ships as the location. This continued through the operation of the Mission. The church building began during Canon Green's superintendentship in response to the desire expressed by the governing dioceses. Fifteen churches were built. Once these churches were large enough to be independent, they came under the jurisdiction of the appropriate diocese. The Columbia Coast Mission formally operated hospitals between 1905-1953. It continued to administer a lease on St. George's Hospital until 1981 when the land was sold. The hospitals were both fixed and floating. The ships also operated hospitals. The hospitals were operated by a fund, the Hospital Contract Plan, set up by the Columbia Coast Mission and logging industry as a form of health insurance which provided a minimum source of funding. The additional money to build hospitals was raised through speaking trips. The hospitals were primarily managed by the Superintendent with the Executive Committee overseeing the finances. The plane ministry operated between 1971-1981, providing all the services of a normal church. It was a joint venture with the United Church of Canada's North Island Air Ministry, previously known as Alert Bay Marine Mission . It began with a United Church owned plane, a Cessna 180. This was added to by the Columbia Coast Mission in 1979 with the purchase of the George Pringle II, another Cessna 180. Two pilots-padres, Reverend John Mellis (1971-1980) and Reverend Gerald Kaye (1980-1981), were employed. The area of coverage was smaller than the marine Columbia Coast Mission, visiting only eight communities. The Mission's involvement in the air ministry ceased by 1982. The Columbia Coast Mission operated as part of two dioceses and was responsible to both bishops. It remained independent though of both dioceses in order to enable the Mission to receive funding from church missionary societies. The ministers were ordained and licensed by the bishop whose geographic jurisdiction corresponded most with the minister's pastoral area. The church congregations set up by the Columbia Coast Mission became members of their local diocese. Between 1979-1981, the congregations served by the plane ministry operated within both Anglican and United Churches. The organisational structure of the Columbia Coast Mission is complex and confusing, as reflected in the records. The mission had two administrative bodies, the Superintendent and the executive Council/Board of Trustees. The Superintendent position existed between 1905-1975. The Superintendent administered the ships, hospitals, and old people homes, and was responsible for the hiring of staff and the editing of the Mission's official publication, The Log. He submitted annual reports to the Board of Trustees but operated independently of them. The Executive Council/Board of Trustees was comprised of the Bishop of B.C./ (President), the Bishop of New Westminster (Vice President) and at least one other person appointed by both Dioceses. This council nominated the Executive Committee which administered the legal and financial aspects of the Columbia Coast Mission. The Executive Council was totally responsible for the administration of the Mission after 1970. The re-incorporation resulted in the withdrawal of the Bishop of New Westminster from the Board of Trustees and after 1976 the Executive Council was appointed by the Diocese of B.C. The Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster remained an ex-officio member of the Board. Changes were made in the constitution and by-laws to reflect this organizational structure. In the early 1980's, it was decided, by the members of the Board of Directors, that the Mission should concentrate on work among native Indian people, particularly those who drifted into cities and were at loose ends. Between 1905-1969 the Columbia Coast Mission had the following Superintendents: Rev. John Antle (1905-1936), Rev. Canon Alan Greene (1936-1959), Rev. Patrick Ellis (1960-1965), Brig.-Gen. John Forth (1966-1968), Rev. Canon H. Jones (1968-1969).


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