Save old church, congregation tells minister
An angry congregation faced off against its own minister in a small town outside St. John's Sunday, as residents demanded that an aging church be kept.
Most of the dozens of people who attended a meeting in St. Philip's oppose a plan to tear down the 116-year-old Anglican church in the community, which overlooks Conception Bay.
The Anglican church wants to tear down the building, which has already been deconsecrated, and use it as a graveyard. A new building was built nearby six years ago.
The church's leadership said a recent vote of parishioners approved of the demolition, and that most of those who attended Sunday's meeting missed the annual meeting.
"For the past 18 months, we made our decision, and we're standing by our decision," Edward Keeping, the church's rector, told the meeting.
When a member of the crowd asked Keeping to identify his reasons, he said they ought to have attended prior meetings.
"Your job is to help us, help everybody here," one woman called out to Keeping from the floor. "What are you doing? You're going against the grain."
"We should have been at that meeting," another woman told Keeping. "We weren't at the damn meeting and we should have been."
Steve Sharpe, president of a group trying to save the old church, said the building ought to be preserved as a museum. He said people in the community, regardless of their faith, don't understand why a symbol of the community could soon disappear.
"We got the information out to the people who have been asking the question, 'Why do they want to tear down the old St. Philip's church? We had a good cross-section of people, a few parishioners, but we also had a lot of people who want to know what's going on," Sharpe said.
The matter goes to the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's town council on Tuesday night.
Gilbert Squires, a life-long resident of the community, doubts his grandfather would have donated the land for the new Anglican church building if he had known about plans for the old one.
"He's been dead now quite some years, but if he could see into the future, what they had planned — to build a new church on the land that we donated to the church and then tear down the old church? I don't think he would [have] been so generous," Squires told CBC News.
But the Anglican Church says one of the conditions of the new building was permission to demolish the old one.
Keeping said he is confident council will vote to allow the demolition.