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100-year-old NDG church closes
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 12 mai 2011

Photo: Anja Karadeglija

Bishop Billy Clarke participated in the last service held at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church.

The wooden pews of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church were more crowded than they had been in a long time, as both old and new parishioners bid goodbye to the church that had served the community for a century.

They came to attend the last service, held on May 1, before the building is turned over to its new occupant.

“To see this kind of event, it saddens my heart,” said Brenda Layne, who was baptized and attended Sunday school at St. Matthews. “It saddens me to know that the time has come.”

Layne said it was difficult to say goodbye to the building. “Everything in this church is original. You can’t get any better than this structure at all,” she said. The parish has been around for 100 years, but the church was built in stages in the early decades of the 20th century.

Reverend cannon Joan Shanks said that the parishioners have been consoled by the fact that the church will be turned over to a school, as opposed to a developer who might have gutted it for condos. Solomon Schechter Academy, a Jewish elementary school located across the street, will take over the building.

“It’s not as if the building is going to disappear. With the school coming in, there will still be life around it,” she said. “To know there’s a good group coming in, people who will care for the building and preserve it, that’s been very important for people.”

In addition to past members, the May 1 service included guests like Bishop Billy Clarke, who participated in the service, and politicians, who spoke to the congregants.

Attendance had dwindled in recent years, and the church had come to the decision that it was impossible to go on, said Shanks.

“It became clear that it wasn’t only a case of finances, but people were getting older, they were unable to do all the work that was required, and of course, we were losing members,” she said.

Andrew Gregory attended the church for 30 years, starting when he was a child.

“It definitely hurt a little bit, when you saw the woman carrying the cross crying in the processional,” he said. “You realize it’s actually over.”

[ Anja Karadeglija ]

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