CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Apr 1967, Sat • Page 44
Parishioners up in arms over bid to sell church
By Mary Cook Citizen special correspondent CARLETON PLACE-
What happens to a congregation, when it reads in the local newspaper that its church is no longer needed, and since its purpose has become so insignificant, the only solution is the auction block? The congregation gets angry. That’s what happens. And that’s exactly what the wardens of St. James Anglican Church wanted to happen.
A couple of weeks ago a large block ad appeared in the local weekly paper, stating that a debate would be held to deal with the following resolution: “Resolved: that the church of St. James no longer fulfils any significant purpose in the community and, therefore, the congregation should be disbanded and the church property be sold and the money realized contributed to more worthy causes.”
Even though the ad clearly stated it was a debate only, the congregation buzzed with comment and the parish hall was packed to capacity “to fight for our church,” as several put it. Dr. W.J. Hanham, a member of the affirmative team, said that only 10 per cent of the 1,500 members appeared in church on a regular basis. Even more startling was the fact that about 30 people contribute more than half of the entire church budget. Of the membership, he went on, only 15 per cent was under 35 years of age. He further reddened faces of those present by stating that local charities received more from members and the community than did St. James Anglican Church.
At this point, a parishioner jumped to his feet and demanded to know why an expensive addition was opened recently, if the church was in such need. Dr. Hanham assured the questioner he was sure the church “could muddle on with out the addition, but the wardens were not only concerned with the money issue, they were also alarmed over the steady decline in attendance, fellowship and the spiritual atmosphere of the entire congregation.”
Supporting Dr. Hanham were Allan Johnsson and Ormond Giles who reported a steady decline in church attendance all over the world. They claimed a new set of standards, the Jet Age and a decline in personal morals were fast making every church obsolete. Mr. Johnsson started a protest from the negative debaters when he said that no building is necessary for anyone to worship God. The church, he said, is failing from the lack of “spiritual support.”
On the negative side, Mrs. George H. Lossemore, herself an Anglican minister’s widow; Stewart Lancaster, a lay reader in the church; and Gerry Tinsley, deputy warden, argued the need for unity and its power as seen in the Communist world today. They cited the need for spiritual guidance and the great service the church could render. During the debate, several parishioners jumped to their feet to interject, and it was apparent that many felt strongly in favor of retaining the church and its property.
Ted Lemaistre, the rector’s warden, had a difficult time as moderator of the debate and several times had to bring the panel back to the issue at hand. Although the affirmative seemed to have a strong argument, when the vote was called at the close of the debate, the emotions of those present emphatically indicated they were determined “to retain the church and its property.” Whether they will support it with dollars and their attendance, remains to be seen.
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