The Merrickville United Church is facing many of the same pressures as other older churches across the country, but, in their case, they are using imagination and creativity to solve their problem. For the past number of years, income has not been sufficient to maintain and make repairs to the building and these have been left undone for some time. As a result, according to the church Council, “we now have a significant backlog of necessary repairs, and also a significant wish list of changes that we would like to make for the building to be much more useable”.
The congregation has recently received what is being called a “significant bequest investment”, which could be used to make those repairs and changes, but doing so would use up all of the church’s capital and there would not be enough left over to pay the regular expenses of the church beyond the next few years.
The church council has taken steps to examine a range of possible options, consulting with outside experts and the national church authorities, and have come up with what they believe would be a viable solution. This does not include carrying on as usual, until the money runs out and the crisis is upon them. Instead, the plan is to find a partner, or partners, with whom to share the building. Using the bequest funds, the building can be upgraded and sufficiently repaired to make it an attractive location for any partners that might be found.
The church Council have made it clear that “we would very much like to see the building continue to be used, and continue to be a vital part of the Merrickville community”. To that end, a meeting is being organised for November 15 to which potential partner organisations are invited, including non-church organisations and churches of other denominations. The meeting is intended to be an opportunity for the Council to answer questions about the project, and to allow the congregation to get some idea of how much interest there may be in the concept.
“Clearly”, says the Council, “it is important for us to try and find a partner who is able to help us be financially viable. Our hope is that we are able to find a partner whose mission and constituency fit well with our life as a church. We are open to all ideas, however, and would welcome a more business oriented relationship. As well, we want creativity!”.
Given the recent sad circumstances surrounding the planned demolition of Leslie Hall in Kemptville, the Merrickville United Church are showing a determination to make their church a continuing source of life and energy for the Merrickville-Wolford community.