New Brunswick

Saint John church to close after 200 years

The oldest Baptist church in Saint John is closing its doors because of a dwindling congregation and bank account.

The oldest Baptist church in Saint John is closing its doors because of a dwindling congregation and bank account.

The Germain Street United Baptist Church just celebrated its 200th anniversary, but while the celebrations were happening there were also some tough choices made about the institution's future.

Rev. Wayne Dryer said the church was put up for sale in early November.

The church, he said, couldn't survive financially because there was no longer a congregation big enough to support it.

Part of the 200-year-old church's problem, according to Dryer, was that it hasn't kept up with the times.

"In the church of the future, members will be just meeting people at restaurants or at the soccer pitch," Dryer said.

"Rather than asking people to come to us, we'll be going and just being a part of the world in which we live."

Peter Reid, the executive minister of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, said many churches are facing the same financial pressures as the Germain Street United Baptist Church.

"They're rural churches or inner city churches that have a long history and the community has changed," Reid said.

The congregation will be meeting at the end of the month to decide what to do with the money from the eventual sale of the church.

Jim Crooks, who co-owns the Mahogany Manor, which is next door to the church, said they help out with a few of the church's outreach programs.

He said the neighborhood will feel the loss of the church.

Other churches face similar fate

Other New Brunswick churches are facing the same fate as the Germain Street Baptist Church.

Roman Catholics in Riverview are in the process of deciding what to do with the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, which needs more than $600,000 worth of repairs.

Father Phil Mulligan said in November that some of the options facing the congregation include fixing the building, tearing it down and replacing it with an environmentally efficient structure or tearing it down and amalgamating it with another church in Moncton.

Donald Langis, the pastoral co-ordinator with the Moncton Archdiocese, said in November the shrinking number of parishioners in southeastern New Brunswick could cause some of its Roman Catholic churches to amalgamate.

There are 16 parishes in Moncton and they all face prospects of declining attendance and the likelihood of future amalgamations or closures, he said.