By 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. firstname.lastname@example.org