Messiah News

Departing Messiah North coordinator Julie Backous ready for what comes next after watching community grow and thrive

When the 9am service comes to an end at the Messiah North County location at Windy Hills Winery this Sunday, June 18, it will mark an end of an era.

Julie Backous, the site coordinator for Messiah North for the past five years, is stepping down as she and her husband Todd move to Arizona later in the month.

Julie has been involved with Messiah North since its beginning in 2010, when it worshiped in an office building in Ridgefield. She's been involved with Messiah for even longer-51 years and has too many happy memories to count.

Her first marriage was at Messiah in 1976, her kids were baptized and went through preschool at Messiah, and the funeral for her late first husband was held at Messiah. She was involved in youth group as a teenager, was baptized at the 1972 Christmas Eve service at Messiah. She's been involved as a Stephen Minister, been in the band, and has organized or participated in numerous small groups, including the CanAm book study, and the Faith and Fibers group, both of which will continue after her departure.

"It's difficult leaving, I've been in Vancouver for 51 years-lots of longtime friends and been at Messiah for 51 years," Julie said. "The hardest thing for me is going to be leaving Messiah North, I have a real passion for Messiah North. It has been fun watching it grow and change."

Julie said that among the first items on the agenda after she and Todd get settled in Arizona will be finding a new church to call home, one that is like Messiah North. She has enjoyed watching the site grow from it's humble beginnings to a location that appears to have found a long time home at Windy Hills Winery.

"Being involved in a growing congregation and welcoming people and getting them involved has been great," she said.

Julie attended the first service at Messiah North and has been going ever since, eventually taking over as site coordinator five years ago and helping to keep the community going through the Covid pandemic and it's move from Tri-Mountain Golf Course to Windy Hills.

The community had wondered what they were going to do during and after Covid. The golf course had held space for them after lockdowns ended, but the community was hoping to find a location with more space and air conditioning. Windy Hills fit the bill. 

"They were a Godsend," Julie said.

 Messiah North has integrated seamlessly on Sunday mornings, worshiping in the Winery's grand hall during the colder months, then moving outside to its event tent when the weather warms up.

"It just feels right and has worked out really well for us," she said.

Julie praised the setup crew which helps get ready for worship every Sunday at 7:30am.

"They don't even always sign up," she said. "They are always there."

Now that Messiah North and so many of the things that she has been involved with over the years will be in new hands, Julie is excited to see what the future holds, both for Messiah and herself. She plans to take up some new activities in Arizona, and to find ways to get involved. She's also excited to see what new blood brings to Messiah North.

"New blood brings new ideas, and it's time for new blood," she said.

And even though she may be leaving, it's not goodbye for good. She and Todd still intend to come back to visit regularly, and she'll still be on the CanAm group zoom meetings, and she hopes members of the community continue to stay in touch, because even though she may be in a new place, Messiah will always be home, she said.

"Messiah will always be my home church, no matter where I am."

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