Churches close in Trinity Bay, as Anglicans find new ways to worship
Congregations too small to support old buildings
Four Anglican churches in Trinity Bay have been deconsecrated, and parishioners will come together in a new place of worship at a local area school.
The old buildings, all located within a 10-minute drive between Heart's Delight and Green's Harbour, can no longer support their own separate congregations.
Attendance at St. Matthew's, a 135-year-old church in Green's Harbour, had shrunk to half a dozen regular parishioners.
Ironically, the final service there Wednesday was packed,
"I understand why they had to close the church," said Jennifer Hillier, whose great-great grandfather helped build it in 1880.
"I know it wasn't an easy decision, and it's sad."
"I remember being fascinated with the ceiling ... always thinking it looked like a boat turned down," she said.
Hillier no longer goes to church as often, and she's not the only one.
Communities along the shoreline are getting smaller, and the population is aging.
The Anglican diocese decided to close the Green's Harbour church, along with others in Whiteway, Cavendish and Heart's Delight.
Future churches will 'look different'
"There's a lot of feelings, a lot of memories, a lot of emotions, some tears," said Rev. Geoff Peddle, Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
"But I think there's also great hope for the future."
Peddle said road connections have lessened the need for small communities to have their own church.
"This is not the first place this has happened, and there will be more in the years to come. The smaller congregations will undoubtedly come together with larger ones in new ways," he said.
The plan for Trinity Bay is to move services into a former school, which is being converted into a modern parish centre with a chapel.
Crosses from the deconsecrated churches were moved there on Wednesday.
"Churches in the future are going to look different, they will act different, they will be built for a different kind of ministry in a different kind of society," said Peddle.
There may be a resurrection for some of the old churches. Hillier said she hopes the local heritage society can find a way to preserve them.
With files from Azzo Rezori