The sign says welcome and accessible to all
Old Perlican United Church raises $23,000 for chair lift
The congregation of St. Andrew’s By the Sea United Church in Old Perlican believes God helps those who help themselves, especially when it comes to raising money. Therefore when the church needed to come up with $36,000 to pay for a wheel-chair lift they said a few prayers and started fundraising. In less than three years those prayers were answered. The new vertical wheelchair lift was officially dedicated Jan. 17.
“ This was a fundraising project we anticipated would take about 15 years to complete, however we were able to do it in less than three years,” said Fred Cram, chairman of the lift committee. “The support from the congregation and public was phenomenal.”
Approximately $23,000 was raised through fundraisers and donations and the National Church provided an additional $10,000 loan.
Of that $10,000, which is to be paid back over a three-year period, about $4,000 has already been raised, leaving the congregation with approximately 6,000 owing.
And if donations continue the way they have in the past, that amount will be even less.
While the church is rejoicing about not being financially strapped they are more excited about the building being wheelchair accessible.
“Our church is a community church. It’s used by the school and other organizations for various services, not just by church goes,” said Reverend Yvonne Hopkins. “A lot of funerals and weddings are held here and it needs to be fully accessible to all. There was nothing worse than having to tell someone they couldn’t hold a wedding or a funeral here because the building wasn’t wheelchair accessible. It really bothered me when I had to do that.”
Cram agrees: “ There was a definite need for this wheelchair lift in our church. We know it was an expensive project and it was something we pondered over for a long period of time. We also knew it was probably going to be a difficult task to raise that amount of money, but it was something we needed to do.”
According to Cram members of the church considered installing a wheelchair ramp instead of a lift, but it wasn’t the best option.
“It would have been very cumbersome and intimidating for the people using it,” he explained. “ The main body of the building is already off the ground and by the time we followed the construction regulations of a rise of so many inches to every foot the ramp would have been hundreds of feet long and high off the ground. That didn’t make sense so we went with the lift.”
Rev. Hopkins feels placing a welcoming sign outside a church is not enough for people with mobility problems.
“The body of Christ cannot be complete until all people are accepted into their communities of faith,” she said. “If the sign says welcome, the steps cannot say you must be able to walk up stairs to enter. In order for churches to be welcoming communities for people with disabilities, church facilities, procedures and the way we communicate must be accessible. If this lift helps even just one person it’s worth every cent.”
LET IT SHINE - A group of children from St. Andrew’s Sunday School in Old Perlican sing the song This Little Light of Mine during the dedication ceremony of a vertical chair lift last month.
RIBBON CUTTING - Phyllis Strong, seated, her daughter Margie Tucker, right, and granddaughter Emily Tucker cut the ribbon during a Jan. 17 official dedication ceremony for a new vertical chair lift at St. Andrew’s By the Sea Church in Old Perlican. Fred Cram, chairman of the vertical lift committee, left, and Don Newell, committee secretary were also on hand for the celebration.
CHEERFUL GIVERS - From left, Zachary Thorne and his dad Kenneth, Chelsea Froude and her grandfather Roland Froude and Paul Tizzard and his dad Roger collect the offering at St. Andrew’s By the Sea Church in Old Perlican. Members of the congregation raised $23,000, in less than three years, for a new chair lift.