Tuesday, November 1, 2016

St. Mark's Anglican Church, Rustico - pending demolition

     I could hardly believe what I was reading on the front page of the Northern Star today - St. Mark's Anglican Church on the Church Road in Rustico (South) was de-consecrated on October 16th and will be demolished!  Not another Island Church!!!!  This church is for 175 years, built in 1841 - amoung the oldest collection of churches left on the Island - few date back to the 1840's.
Here's a photo I took of St. Mark's Anglican Church taken on April 27, 2006

Here's the front page of Northern Star November 2016 issue.
Below is the text about the article.
     A historic landmark in the community of Rustico is no more.  During an emotional ceremony held at the church on October 16th, 2016, St. Mark's Anglican Church was de-consecrated by Bishop Ron Cutler, Bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  The congregation, which has been steadily declining in recent years, will now amalgamate with the congregation of St. John's Anglican Church in Milton.
     St. Mark's Anglican Church was established in 1841.  Since that time parishioners have cared for, expanded and maintained their place of worship.  As the years passed, fewer and fewer families filled the pews during services.  Now, 175 years later, the church has closed its doors for the final time.
     "It is a sad day," admitted parishioner Joan Dalziel following the service.  "Our congregation has been declining over the past number of years and now we are at a point where there are only five to ten families supporting the church.  And, with the church needing repairs, there just weren't enough parishioners to bear the burden of that cost."
     While talk of closing had been going on for many months, the final decision to close St. Mark's Church was made at the congregation's annual meeting held in February of 2016.  It was noted at that time the church was in real need of repair and that the financial burden for those repairs was too great for those parishioners who remained. 
     "Even if we did manage to come up with the money to make the necessary repairs, there aren't enough young families left to take it over," said Dalziel.  "We, as a congregation, decided to close our church before we were forced to. It was a hard decision that was a year in the making.  But in the end, there was no push back and the decision to close was made by everyone.  It was just the right time for this closure to happen."
     The little church on the Church Road in Rustico was packed when Bishop Cutler performed the de-consecration service.  Amid the songs and readings, some of the elders in attendance seemed to be holding back tears as they perhaps remembered those gone before them who had kept their church as a vital part of their community, many of them buried just outside in the small cemetery which surrounds the church.  As the service concluded, parishioners were invited to remove some items of special significance which will be placed amoung the honoured items at St. John's Anglican Church in Milton.  Among those items were banners, religious icons and a Bible that had been presented to St. Mark's by the Colonial Church Society of England in 1841.  A stained glass window will be also removed and is hoped to be re-installed at St. John's.  Some of the other hallowed items will be going to a church in Ontario.
     "It's very gratifying to us to see that these special pieces of our church will live on, even if the church itself will not."
     Over the days following the de-consecration of St. Mark's parishioners were invited to take any items they wished from the church.  Following that a contractor had been given permission to remove all the woodwork for re-purposing.  Then another contractor was hired to come in and tear down the building itself.
     "Once the building is torn down and the land it stood on converted into a green space, our plan is to erect a monument to St. Mark's Church and to add benches for families who have loved ones buried  here to come and spend time reflecting and remembering their family members who have been laid to rest here," said Dalziel.  "We are left with many fond memories of our little church but we must and will move forward in a new relationship with St. John's."

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