By Matt Harrison

Ottawa Magazine - - NEWS - Matt Harrison,

here’s the steeple, open the doors and …”

Do you know how this chil­dren’s rhyme ends? If you do, you’re prob­a­bly in the dwin­dling mi­nor­ity.

I’m 40-some­thing, and I be­long to the last gen­er­a­tion that re­mem­bers say­ing the Lord’s Prayer and be­ing of­fered re­li­gious in­struc­tion in pub­lic school. That was in the late ’80s. My gen­er­a­tion was also the last to at­tend church reg­u­larly. Now the norm is to spend Sun­days do­ing any­thing but. As a re­sult, churches are in­creas­ingly va­cant or, at the very least, filled with white-haired con­gre­gants. As Pa­trick Langston ex­plores in his ar­ti­cle “Altared: Ren­o­vat­ing the House of God” (page 37), many Chris­tian de­nom­i­na­tions have al­ready made the dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary de­ci­sion to de­con­se­crate church build­ings and sell them. “So what,” you may say with a shrug. But as one ex­pert points out, the “halo ef­fect” that comes with hav­ing churches in the com­mu­nity is a ma­jor fac­tor with re­gard to the com­mu­nity’s so­cial and eco­nomic wel­fare. The loss of churches af­fects the sec­u­lar and non-sec­u­lar alike.

Some Chris­tian churches are thriv­ing as spir­i­tual houses. Given the num­ber of Chris­tian de­nom­i­na­tions, we fo­cused on just three of the more es­tab­lished Ot­tawa Chris­tian faiths — the Catholic, Angli­can, and United churches — and found out where, as the rhyme goes, you can still “see all the peo­ple.”

Ever wanted to live in a church? That fan­tasy is now a re­al­ity. As Sarah Brown dis­cov­ers, some churches are be­ing saved from the wreck­ing ball and in­stead con­verted into gyms, record­ing stu­dios, even homes.

Three years ago, Judy Trinh re­ported on a dou­ble mur­der-sui­cide in Stittsville. Still haunted by the tragedy, she con­tacted Jon Corchis, hus­band of Ali­son Eas­ton, who killed her two chil­dren and her­self, to see if he would agree — for the first time — to talk about the events of that night in light of the on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion Cana­di­ans are hav­ing with re­gard to men­tal health. In par­tic­u­lar, he and Bruck Eas­ton, Ali­son’s un­cle, ques­tion whether these deaths were pre­ventable and whether red flags were missed. In telling this story (An In­ex­pli­ca­ble Tragedy? page 33) it is hoped that lessons can be learned to pre­vent fu­ture tragedies.

Ever since we show­cased Cru­soe, wiener dog ex­traor­di­naire in the Spring is­sue, we’ve been want­ing to do a se­ries of ar­ti­cles on pets. It turned out that in pro­duc­ing a pet-themed fea­ture, there was a de­gree of serendip­ity: Kath­leen Ed­wards, who has re­turned to the stage as part of Petr Can­cura’s Cross­roads Jazz Se­ries at the NAC, is sur­rounded by pets: two dogs and two cats (Cameo, page 22); and Smiths Fall’s new bio-cre­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany, AquaGreen Dis­po­si­tions, first be­gan us­ing its wa­ter-based cre­ma­tion method for an­i­mals, called Hil­ton’s Un­for­get­table Tales (Q&A, page 29).

Fi­nally, we’re proud to an­nounce that our food critic, Anne DesBrisay, has col­lab­o­rated with chefs and pho­tog­ra­pher Chris­tian Lalonde to pro­duce a beau­ti­ful book en­ti­tled Ot­tawa Cooks (Most Wanted, page 79).

Anne DesBrisay re­views the top 10 “new” restau­rants in Ot­tawa and an­swers ques­tions re­lated to her ca­reer as a food critic, a role that’s es­pe­cially rel­e­vant in the age of food blogs, tweets, and cus­tomer re­views. feed­back­ot­tawa@stjoseph­me­dia.com

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