< Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: Changing Times Doom Historic Anglican Parish Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: Changing Times Doom Historic Anglican Parish
Today's Quote

A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Changing Times Doom Historic Anglican Parish

Changing times doom historic parish

Dave Rogers
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

With only eight parishioners remaining, St. James Anglican Church may have outlived its viability, church officials fear. The region's oldest Anglican church is likely to be put up for sale, along with its cemetery, resting place of many of Ottawa's founders.

With attendance in the region's oldest Anglican church down to eight parishioners, the diocese is contemplating putting the building and land up for sale, along with the cemetery where many of Ottawa's founding fathers are buried.

The last service in St. James Anglican Church, which seats 250 people, was held on Aug. 27 and there will be no more services until the diocese makes its decision later this month.

The stone church on Promenade du Portage was completed a year after the Great Fire of 1900 destroyed Hull and much of Ottawa. But the cemetery dates back to 1801 and was taken over by St. James in 1823. Among those buried there are Philemon Wright, the founder of Wrightville, which became Hull, and Nicholas Sparks, who once owned much of downtown Ottawa.

"This is the oldest Anglican parish in the region," said Anglican Bishop Peter Coffin. "Even the Anglican Cathedral at the end of Sparks Street was a mission of St. James Hull before it was a cathedral because Hull had more people than Ottawa during the early 1800s."

Bishop Coffin, who was the rector of the church from 1976 to 1984, said the exodus of Anglicans from West Quebec during the past 30 years has prompted the need to consider selling. Three of the eight people who attend the church are from Ottawa, one is from Wakefield and four are from the Hull sector of Gatineau.

The first St. James Church opened in 1824 on a lot on Leduc Street donated by Philemon Wright.

The original church was destroyed by fire in 1865 and rebuilt in 1901 at Main and St. James streets, now Promenade du Portage and Rue St-Jacques.

The church includes an altar that marked Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

St. James is not a heritage building, but it can't be changed for two or three more years because the Quebec government has contributed to its preservation.

The church is in a prime downtown location, but Bishop Coffin said the land may be worth more than the building. The church is expensive to heat, the boiler needs to be replaced and the bathrooms are in poor condition.

He said the diocese can't afford to keep the church if only a handful of people use it and even the cost of heating the building is more than the congregation can afford.

"I don't think that there is any other option but to close the church. It is an old stone building and the few elderly people who attend can't afford to maintain it. It is particularly sad for me because I was their parish priest for nine years and the church was my first parish."

Bishop Coffin said he tried to revitalize the church by attracting new members, but that was difficult because the Parti Quebecois had just been elected and anglophones were leaving Quebec.

Rev. Charles Boole, a retired Anglican priest assigned by Bishop Coffin to interview parishioners about the possible closing of the church, said most parishioners had expected it for years.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux, the French-speaking Anglican church that shares the building, will move to a new location because it can't afford to maintain the church by itself.

Rev. Boole said there used to be more people living close to the church, but the city core is now mostly office towers, hotels and restaurants.

"There is a shift in the way society looks at religion nowadays," Father Boole said. "We live in a multicultural, multinational and multiracial society.

"Immigration now comes from the East and no longer from Europe, so there are few Anglicans coming into the area. It's a shame this had to happen, but this kind of thing has been going on in churches over the centuries which end up being in places where the population has moved away."

End Is Near for Area's Oldest Anglican Church

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006


Post a Comment

<< Home