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Saying goodbye to an historic church

Published on

Heather Wright

Special to The Journal

The final service held last week at Christ Church in Camlachie was an especially poignant one.

Members of the tiny Anglican Church on Egremont Road said goodbye to the historic building as they prepare to disband after 137 years of worship.

In 1877 the Rev. Issac Bearfoot, a First Nations priest, worked with his farming parishioners to raise $671 for a building. The foundation was dug on the farm of S. Wallace Trusler for 75 cents and the church was consecrated in 1879.

Brent Anderson, one of the 10 remaining members of the congregation, said parishioners lovingly hand-painted much of the sanctuary of the simple clapboard church “to the glory of God.”

The final pastor, Rev. Kim Metelka, remembers walking into the building for the first time a year ago.

“It was like stepping back in time … there are parts of the church that look like marble but it’s all hand-painted. There is love in that,” she said.

“I thought it was a typical white clapboard church with a lot of woodwork, but nothing this elaborate.”

Anderson said there was once a gate at the altar to keep animals out of the holy area. “There were stories of goats wandering in when the doors were open,” he said.

The wood stove that families once took turns lighting is gone, but the Berlin pump organ purchased in 1902 is still in use.

But membership has dwindled. Several years ago the group made a conscious effort to invite people into the building, hoping they would make it their church, but it didn’t happen.

The group finally decided it wasn’t a good use of resources to continue to repair the aging building.

“Jesus never called us to come and repair buildings. He called us to spread the gospel,” said Anderson.

Metelka said it was a difficult decision.

“They’re grieving. This building is filled with memories. They walk in … and they remember being married here, they remember their children being baptized … they won’t be coming back into the building and remembering any more.”

The final service was held Dec. 31 and the church will be deconsecrated Jan. 11 in a special ceremony presided over by the Bishop. A group of appointed trustees will take care of the building and land sale.

“Just because the building closes it is not the end. The church is the people.” Metelka says.



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