Below is a shortened version of the “1919 Pastor’s Letter and New Year’s Greeting” to the congregation. Rev. Marshall had joined the congregation a few months before the end of the First World War. At the time of writing, the congregation was being devasted by the ‘flu epidemic’.
It is now six months since your call brought us together in work here, and during that time we have had trials, sorrows, burdens and sacrifices in the closing hour of this dreadful war. Victory has come for which we thank God.
Upon entering a New Year great responsibilities face us. The Peace Conference will soon assemble to terminate finally the war and form a Society or League of Nations to protect and to arbitrate for the future welfare of the Nations of the World. The Church hopes and prays for more favourable conditions for extending the Kingdom of God on Earth. Grave dangers are threatening the nations of the world in Bolshevism, extreme Socialism and Anarchy. These are ever dangerous elements in true nation building. Local governments, too, are having to face new problems such as organized labour and capital, organization of farmers seeking better trade conditions, demobilization and reinstating into civil life of our forces.
The task of the church will be to see that the principles of Christianity are applied in the working out of these problems. The liquor traffic – one of the greatest curses – soon will be placed before the electors of our land to settle by ballot. We must be organized and prepared to fight for the principles of right when the time comes, and to see that such legislation is enacted as will protect the weak and helpless and save the boys and girls of our land for noble purposes.
Dearly Beloved, our fathers and sons have fought nobly, and willingly sacrificed for liberty, and your homes, with fortitude, have sustained great losses in loved ones, and you have honourably borne your sorrows and loneliness. Canada takes a place among the Nations of Christendom. She has won a name of undying fame.
A new trial has overtaken us in the plague Influenza and many homes have been stricken. This plague is still taking toll of our young manhood and womanhood. Because of this our church has been closed almost continually since October 13th. Our special anniversary services for Education and Missions, as well as other plans for work, have had to be postponed. But we must not be discouraged nor grow impatient. Let us trust that the future may give us even greater opportunity of consecration and service.
The times demand that we “go over the top” in all our efforts for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. I implore you not to forget family prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures. Let us take care of the Holy Sabbath Day. And finally, brethren, remember that Mission is the great task of the Church today.
Alpheus E. Marshall