In 1981, our congregation called First Pentecostal Church, located on Argyle Street, built the church building where we now are on 913 Smythe Street. It was through a huge step of faith and the great sacrifice of faithful people that our present church building was dedicated on May 29th that next year of 1982. At the time it was not uncommon for Evangelical churches to call themselves “Cathedral”. Names like Gateway Cathedral in Saint Stephen, Burnham Road Cathedral in Florenceville NB, and the famous Crystal Cathedral in California are a few examples. Even the contractor that built our church was called Cathedral Developments. So, not surprisingly, when proposals were put forward for a new name, the name Smythe Street Cathedral surfaced to the top of the list. Part of the rationale was that we were the founding Pentecostal mother Church for most of the Pentecostal Churches in the area and our pastor at the time, Rev. Märt Vähi, was the regional Presbyter over several Pentecostal Congregations in the area.
But the fact remains, in the strict sense of the word, a cathedral is a Christian church which contains the seat of a bishop, and that did not and does not accurately describe us.
In hindsight, we feel that there should have been more research as to the meaning of the word “cathedral” and to the implications it could have on our Greater Fredericton neighbourhood, and in particular, to the Anglican Community in our city. Christ Church Cathedral is a Canadian National treasure for its historical and architectural significance. Fredericton was declared a Cathedral City by Royal Decree in 1845. While it was not our intention, calling ourselves a cathedral felt distasteful and offensive to several of our Anglican neighbours. Our Lord Jesus taught us that if we cause offence to a brother or sister we are to go and make it right. For some time now, as the Senior Pastor of Smythe Street Cathedral, I have felt that we need to correct this. So I presented my concerns to the Elders and, after prayerful consideration we have decided to approach the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral and formally apologize. As a sign of our sincere apology, as of September we are dropping the word “cathedral” from our name and we will be calling ourselves Smythe Street Church. Fortunately, both the word “cathedral” and the word “church” start with the letter c so our web page address and email addresses will not be affected.
We strongly believe that there is only one Lord, one faith and, as the Creed says, one Holy Catholic (Universal) Church. And while we may have different traditions and styles of worship, the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is very important that we maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
If you have any questions feel free to ask me or any of our elders or pastors.
The Grace of Christ be with you!
Pastor Verner Drost