What to do with Flying Phil’s pulpit?

Cast in bronze, Phil Gaglardi continues to preach at St. Andrew's.

Cast in bronze, Phil Gaglardi continues to preach at St. Andrew’s.

NEWS/ COMMUNITY — It looks unimpressive now, but in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s it shook to the rousing evangelical voice of Rev. Phil Gaglardi. Now, his pulpit sits in the basement of St. Andrews on the Square with an uncertain future.

Gaglardi became an evangelist with the Pentecostal Church when he was living in Silverdale, near Mission, in the late 1940s. He and his wife Jennie moved to Kamloops in 1949 to take over Calvary Temple, built as St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in 1887 and now St. Andrew’s on the Square. Phil’s pulpit came with them.

He remained with the church after he was elected as MLA and served in Victoria for more than 20 years, including as Highways Minister, but he stopped preaching from the pulpit when he left politics in 1972, and the church fell into disrepair.

Restored by the City and contracted out to the Kamloops Heritage Society to run, St. Andrew’s is a going-concern community facility, but Phil’s pulpit remains stored in the basement.

Heritage society's Mel Formanski with Phil's pulpit.

Heritage society’s Mel Formanski with Phil’s pulpit.

It’s about four ft. wide, painted white and has shelves and a drawer. On the back of the drawer, printed in ink, is the notation, “Designed and built by P.A. Gaglardi, Silverdale, B.C., RR2 Mission City, July 194-.” The last number is hard to read, but the Gaglardis arrive in Kamloops in 1944 so the inclusion of the Silverdale address suggests Phil made the pulpit before that.

“My friends,” Gaglardi would begin his sermons, then launch into a booming talk on a current issue and what the Bible had to say about it.

One of them, in his early days in Kamloops, was about eating horse meat, which had come up in the news. “If you want to eat food with God’s stamp of approve,” he roared, “just like you might want a genuine General Motors part for your automobile, then you should eat meat from animals with cloven hoof or that chew their cud; if not, eat dog or monkey meat if you want!”

So what do you do with a pulpit that’s almost 70 years old and has seen better days? That’s what the heritage society is trying to figure out.

“We can’t throw it away,” said society president Michael Fane as he and society executive director Mel Formanski stood looking it over. “I don’t think there’s any argument there, and it isn’t a good home for it down here.”

“I don’t know what we should do with it,” said Formanski, who took the question to the society’s board last week and received directions not to haul it to the landfill or otherwise dispose of it.

The Kamloops Museum & Archives doesn’t appear to have a use for it, but the heritage society is thinking of contacting Phil’s descendants to see if they want to add it to the considerable collection of items already left by one of the most famous preachers and politicians in B.C.’s history.

About Mel Rothenburger (8128 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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