A History OfLangley Gospel Hall, British Columbia, Canada
David Chesney, BC, Canada
The Christian congregation now meeting at Langley Gospel Hall in Murrayville had its start in the home of the Langley pioneer farming family, William and Kathleen (Katie) Brown. William was born at Stratford on Avon, England in 1876 and Katie (nee Reid) in Ontario in 1877.
William and Katie’s families both emigrated to the Walhalla area of North Dakota where William and Katie were married in 1903. They later moved to Asquith, Sask., then about 1910 to Langley Prairie in B.C. They bought a 30-acre farm on the south west corner of 200th Street and the Fraser Highway. and soon began a Sunday School in their home.
In 1912, two evangelists, Mr. J. J. Rouse and Mr. C. Summers, came and pitched a tent a few yards west of what became the site of Keith Beadle Motors, holding gospel meetings there for some weeks, and later moving to what was to become the site of the B and K Economy Store. As a result of these meetings, a company of Christians began to gather in the home of the late Mr. William Brown. This was the beginning of the Christian assembly that now meets in the Langley Gospel Hall in Murrayville.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown were known as true Christians who practiced what they preached. Alice Brown, their daughter, was a well-known schoolteacher, and the Alice Brown Elementary School in Brookswood is named after her.
Besides the Browns, J. J. Rouse, and Charles Summers, those involved in the start-up of the assembly were the Willox, Mercer, and Ritchie families. Leadership over the years has been provided by William Brown, S. E. Mathews, Jim Larson, S. McKillop, J. Holgate, Philip Toogood, G. Lichti and J. Ken Foote, amongst others. The assembly has in the past commended missionaries to the Netherlands, Newfoundland, and Japan.
In 1931 the first Gospel Hall was built on the Brown farm property and was noteworthy for being built in one day. Mr. S. E. Mathews, who was there at the time, recorded that:– ‘Good Friday – at 7.00 a.m. a start was made. By 7.00 p.m. the building was complete. Roof on, chimney built. Windows and doors all finished, and only a little inside plaster-ing to be added. All completed in one day. About thirty men; several capable builders amongst them’.
A Langley Advance article published in the late ’60s noted that:– ‘Many times the Christians meeting at the Gospel Hall are asked, “Who are you?” “What denomination do you belong to?” “What do you call yourselves?” They reply that they own no name, except that they are Christians gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Matt. 18. 20. They have no organization, but acknowledge Christ only as their head. The Bible alone is their rule and guide. They report that there are thousands of such companies all over the world, but the only link between them is that they belong to Christ and seek to follow His word. Fellowship is spontaneous when they see the scriptures being followed, and they say the Holy Spirit links them together as they follow the pattern laid down in Acts 2. 41-42, when the church was first formed.
They believe that a person becomes a Christian only by the new birth, John 3. 3. There must be the acknowledgement of sin and its penalty, Rom. 6. 23, and an acceptance of Christ as one's personal Saviour. This transaction is a reality bringing one to know the saving and cleansing power of the blood of Christ, 1 Cor. 18. No one gets paid to preach the gospel in the hall, as they count it a privilege to do so.
They believe that the Holy Spirit fits and enables a man to preach after he has experienced the joy of sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ. One can only tell of the saving grace of God after they have received it for themselves. The group celebrates the Lord’s Supper each Lord's Day at 9:30 a.m., holds two Sunday Schools at the hall and at 2830 Johnston Townline at 11.30 a.m., a Gospel Service at 7.30 p.m., a Prayer Meeting and Bible Reading on Wednesday at 8.00 p.m., and a street meeting in Langley on Friday nights at 7.45 p.m’.
By 1970 the location had become a busy business intersection and a move was made to the present location at 4775 – 221st Street in Murrayville. The hall was enlarged in the 1990s to accommodate the needs of a growing congregation. There are currently about eighty members in the assembly. Visitors are welcome to all the assembly activities and services, which still follow a similar pattern to that noted in the Langley Advance article. No offerings or collections are taken.
Looking back over the ninety-year history of the assembly, there have been great changes in Langley Prairie and vast changes in the society we live in and serve. If William and Katie Brown were to come back today there would be very little of Langley they would recognize, unless they lifted their eyes to the north and east, ‘The Golden Ears’ and ‘Mount Baker’ would look the same. If they looked into the new and enlarged Gospel Hall, the carpets on the floor and the padded chairs might take them aback. Theirs was a simpler lifestyle, and the old hall was in keeping with that lifestyle.
However, were they to look into the new hymn books they would see the same old gospel hymns they loved, and if they looked in our Bibles they would find the same message, as true and pertinent to our needs today as it was in theirs. And that is as it should be. Certain things do not change. ‘For I am the Lord, I change not’, Mal. 3. 6. ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’, Matt. 24. 35; Mark 13. 31; Luke 21. 33. For all our technical advances in the past 90 years, our human nature and its needs remain the same. ‘For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you’, 1 Pet. 1. 24, 25.
Basic to all human nature is a need for meaning and purpose in life. We live out our time on earth, conscious of our mortality but haunted by a longing for eternity that nothing under the sun will satisfy. It is not until we get the matter of our eternal destiny fixed that we find peace and rest for the soul. That’s why this assembly sticks to the name ‘Gospel’ (meaning ‘good news’) Hall on the front of the building; for in the Bible and in the Person of Jesus Christ we have found the answer to that ultimate question – What about eternity? And that is good news indeed!