A place dear to my heart is “For Sale.” Sackville United Church gave me the life-changing experience of singing in a big choir of joyful children’s voices; where I first felt a powerful pipe organ rattle through my feet, had my first chance to act in a play, to paint banners, to memorize poetry, to go Christmas carolling, to sing soaring descants with the big kids.
The building is no longer a church. It has been purchased by a developer who intends to take it down from its place of pride; take it out of the heart of town where it has stood for 140 years.
In essence, the developer will pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
A group of concerned citizens in the town is determined to organize and save the church. They have applied to incorporate and to obtain charitable status to get enough money to buy the church from the developer.
But time is running out.
I visited Sackville on Monday, May 19. I sat in an old friend’s kitchen as she leafed through a bulging binder of historic documents, blue prints, nineteenth-century letters and photos. The church is undoubtedly the most important historical building in the region.
Sackville United Church was the centre of its community even before this building was erected in 1875. This was the cradle of Methodism in North America, associated with William Black the Wesleyan preacher who roamed the Maritimes spreading the good news.
During the war years it was the women of the church who raised money and worked tirelessly in their “ladies’ parlour” knitting socks and sweaters for their men overseas.
The adjacent cemetery has many valuable monuments and memorials, including the grave of the founder of Mount Allison University.
The building itself is a priceless piece of Maritime Gothic. It has four matching rose windows, which face the four points of the compass. Its high, wooden roof produces a stunning acoustic in the large and lofty space, and a 1927 Casavant organ remains miraculously unmolested by the wind and rain that is leaking through the damaged roof. Elegant galleries and carved pews are witness to craftsmanship that cannot be reproduced now with love or money.
Saving the church is simply a matter of money.
If you can help, please email Erna Duchemin at email@example.com or catch her on Facebook as Erna Ricciuto