After 127 years, St. Matthias Anglican parish prepares for final Christmas
Congregation's numbers have fallen from 600 to about 75
An Anglican congregation that's called west Ottawa home for more than a century is celebrating its final Christmas this month.
St. Matthias Anglican Church on Parkdale Avenue is expected to close in February, as declining attendance numbers are forcing parishioners to merge with another Anglican church in Westboro.
"We love this place. You know, your heart gets wedded to a place," said John Wilker-Blakley, parish priest at St. Matthias.
Church cornerstone laid in 1939
The parish held its first service in 1887 — not in the grey brick church just south of the Queensway, but rather in the dining room of a former hotel on Wellington Street in the city's Hintonburg neighbourhood.
In 1939, the congregation laid the cornerstone of the current building.
The church can hold 600, but in recent years the congregation's numbers have dipped to about 75 and the diocese can no longer financially justify keeping the church open.
'It feels like home'
"The one that causes real heartache is in some way we may be betraying our forebearers [by leaving]. How can we let it go?" said Wilker-Blakley. "But the answer is simply, they would have done the same"
Four generations of Patricia Kirch's family have attended mass at St. Matthias over the years, and Kirch still comes — even though she now lives 40 minutes away.
"It's home. I walk in the door and it feels like home. That's going to be hard to leave," she said.
The congregation will be amalgamating with All Saints' Anglican Church in Westboro in the new year, with the final worship service at St. Matthias slated for Feb. 7.
The church will be deconsecrated in March.