PORT McNEILL—For most of the past year, the congregation of St. John Gualbert Anglican Church has worked to raise a new roof on the distinctive A-frame building.
Sunday, they kicked back and let Alert Bay singer Deborah Emery raise the roof inside.
Emery, supported by a recorded track of backing instruments and occasional vocals, wowed a full house with a wide-ranging set of gospel, R&B and soul music Sunday at the Raise the Roof Concert and Thank-you party.
In addition to the music, guests had a chance to meet the new minister, Rev. Wade Allen, and enjoy a reception featuring tea, punch and desserts in the recently remodelled and expanded annex to the church, work that was performed in conjunction with the roofing of the structure originally built in 1963.
"When I came up last October, before all this started, it was obvious a lot of work was needed so that people would feel comfortable here," said Allen, who started as pastor June 1, as work was in full swing. "This building today is a statement, that we're proud of where we are and proud of where we're going."
The $120,000 project, which included new electrical wiring and heating, was spearheaded by Craig Murray, with help from his wife Deborah and a cadre of volunteers. The remodel of the bookstore and expansion of the annex was performed by contractor Bob Koop, who attended Sunday's party and chatted with guests following the concert.
Funding was aided by a series of concerts held over the preceding 10 months at Gate House Community Theatre, including a well-received show by Georgia Murray and Friends. The Victoria-based Murray was a contestant in the debut season of Cover Me Canada and is the daughter of Craig and Deborah Murray.
In a nod to those successful musical shows, the church decided to highlight its free thank-you party in the same fashion.
Emery performed a range of songs, including Steve Wonder's Superstition, the classic gospel hymn Amazing Grace and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, in a rendition that brought the crowd to its feet and closed out the show before the audience moved next door to the reception.