Historic church in Inglewood faces challenge to stay open as attendance drops, costs rise

Some people in Inglewood are trying to find way to keep a historic church in their community from having to shut its doors.

Parishioners team up with other community users to brainstorm ideas

The Lantern Community Church in Inglewood started out as the Trinity Methodist Church in 1906. (CBC)

Some people in Inglewood are trying to find way to keep a historic church in their community from having to shut its doors.

They gathered on Sunday night to brainstorm ways to save Lantern Community Church, a 113-year-old landmark on 13th Street and 10th Avenue S.E. that started out as Trinity Methodist Church.

Sara Poldaas calls the historic church her family's second home.

"My husband jokes that, outside of our house, this is the building in which we spend the most time," she said.

Sara Poldaas and her family have spent a lot of time in the Lantern Community Church, not as parishioners but because of the many community activities that take place there. (CBC)

They're not actually parishioners — but they attend many of the various programs that take place in the building, including musical and theatrical productions.

The cost of running the historic church is high, while attendance at Sunday services has dwindled. So, members and non-members of the congregation are collaborating to make the building not just sustainable, but resilient.

When Poldaas and others found out last month that the congregation had narrowly voted against selling it, they wanted to do something.

"We're keenly interested in helping them to figure this thing out, because this building is important to us in a different but similar way as it is to them," she said.

Still 'a place to worship'

Parishioner Marina Clark is open to new ideas, but she doesn't want to lose sight of the main reason she comes to Lantern Church.

"Don't forget what this building is to a lot of people," she said. "And that's a place to worship and a place to serve and worship God."

Bryan Bayley, who sits on the church's board of directors, says the goal is to find more ways to make the historic building sustainable for the congregation and for those who use the building for other purposes.

"Treat others how you want to be treated is the golden rule, treat others how they want to be treated is the platinum rule," he said.

"So, now we're looking at the community, we're asking the community what it is that they would want and trying to take that in as a church and say, 'How can we better serve the community with what they want us to do, as opposed to what we think they need?" he said.

"My hope is that the church will continue in the direction they have gone, which is focused on community. The big fear is, a lot of times, the financial part of it," Bayley added.

"But we have a community that loves this place, that thinks of it as a community centre. So if we can get past the financial part and start to live our faith in the fact that we're called to serve, to be a light, a lantern, and how can we best do that."


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