Determining the future of St. Mary’s
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Parishioners and stakeholders of St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Hudson are being asked whether they would like to preserve to church hall or the main church building – a choice necessary due to declining attendance.
Parishioners and stakeholders at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Hudson will have to decide whether they want to preserve their historic church or their church hall which is located nearby on Main Road to ease the financial burden the congregation is currently facing.
The question the parish has to answer now is how long will there be an active congregation at St. Mary’s, said Reverend Sophie Rolland. The decline in church membership means the congregation will now have to determine whether they should keep the church or the hall. It’s not practical to keep both because of the financial costs involved of maintaining the two buildings, said Rolland.
The church is currently holding a consultative process with its parishioners and stakeholders to try to determine the best option to adopt so that the parish can continue to maintain its visibility and provide the community with the services it offers for the future.
“Like every other place in North America, church attendance is declining,” Reverend Rolland told The Journal during an interview November 26. “St. Mary’s started as a smaller church and now they’re very small. The number of people can’t support both the church building and the hall because it’s quite a lot of real estate for a small group. The people who attend church are quite elderly. Very few people are under 60.”
Congregation future uncertain
For Rolland, it’s uncertain how long there will be an active congregation at St. Mary’s. “They have to decide either to keep on going as they are until they run out of money or they could try to be proactive at this point to be able to raise some funds so that either the church or the hall is able to have an endowment that’s big enough to be able to support it through coming generations,” she said.
The options are to keep the church so that it can be used for seasonal services and maybe take out the pews and use it for art installations or for different events in the community. “Or do we want to keep the hall and do the same for that? This is the question that needs to be answered,” said Rolland.
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Reverend Sophie Rolland of St. Mary’s Anglican Church hall said different options are being considered, including using the facilities for various community events.
Can’t maintain both facilities
It’s not practical to keep both facilities, said Rolland. “We’re in the final generation of churchgoers. If the church runs out of money now, they won’t be able to maintain the structures. St. James Anglican Parish can’t take care of all of these properties because they have their own struggles with their own property although they’re in a healthier place because they started larger,” she said.
The upkeep of both buildings at St. Mary’s also requires significant time and energy and there is less energy now to do the work, added Rolland.
Historic church preservation likely
If St. Mary’s Church is sold, Rolland doubts the historic structure which was built in 1866 would be demolished. “I don’t think the town would allow that. The buyer would have to work with the town in terms of zoning. And because there’s a cemetery attached to the church, we would have to discuss whether that could be cut out of the lot for the church,” said Rolland.
Rolland said congregation members are aware of the situation and are considering the best option possible to secure their future. “They’re aware something has to be done.”