St. Paul’s Pres­by­te­rian look­ing for a new home

Con­gre­ga­tion can stay un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary, con­sid­er­ing all op­tions

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KO­VACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

The con­gre­ga­tion of St. Paul’s Pres­by­te­rian Church is look­ing for a new place to wor­ship af­ter the down­town church — which was faced with high struc­tural re­pair costs — was sold to a de­vel­oper in the sum­mer.

Janet Hal­stead, clerk of ses­sion at the church, said the con­gre­ga­tion has un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary to find a new place to hold ser­vices.

One of the terms of the sale was that the con­gre­ga­tion could stay for six months beyond the clos­ing date — un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary, she said.

“We’re look­ing for a much smaller ver­sion of home,” Hal­stead said in an in­ter­view Fri­day. “This will be a fresh start — a new be­gin­ning.”

St. Paul’s, at the cor­ner of Mur­ray and Wa­ter Streets, was sold to lo­cal de­vel­oper Clear Global Cap­i­tal Ltd. this sum­mer; the clos­ing date was Aug. 31.

St. Paul’s church was built in 1859. The ro­tunda was added in 1885 and the hall was added in 1959.

The church guild­hall is where the con­gre­ga­tion now meets; it is ac­cessed through the Wa­ter St. en­trance.

Church­go­ers haven’t wor­shipped in the sanc­tu­ary for years: It’s been deemed un­safe due to loose plas­ter and rot­ting sup­port beams.

‘‘ We’re look­ing for a much smaller ver­sion of home. This will be a fresh start.

JANET HAL­STEAD

CLERK OF SES­SION AT ST. PAUL’S

The Ex­am­iner re­ported in 2014 that church of­fi­cials be­lieved it would cost at least $2.4 mil­lion to re­pair the church on top of the $100,000 in an­nual main­te­nance just to keep the doors open.

Hal­stead said the con­gre­ga­tion is quite open-minded about where it might move — as long as there are no pricey re­pair and main­te­nance bills.

It could be a church, but it needn’t be large: they have about 100 peo­ple in the con­gre­ga­tion.

It would be nice if the space were down­town, she said, but they’d con­sider go­ing else­where.

They’re also pre­pared to buy a prop­erty with the idea of build­ing a new, smaller church.

“We’re open to look­ing at just about any­thing,” she said, al­though she added that park­ing would be a bonus since St. Paul’s has no park­ing lot.

There are two other Pres­by­te­rian con­gre­ga­tions in Peter­bor­ough: St. Giles on Park St. S. and St. Stephen’s on St. Pauls St.

Hal­stead said they dis­cussed po­ten­tially mergers, but ul­ti­mately de­cided that each con­gre­ga­tion has its own iden­tity and ap­proach to the­ol­ogy — and it would be best not to amal­ga­mate.

No one from Clear Global Cap­i­tal has been avail­able for com­ment since the pur­chase of St. Paul’s in the sum­mer, and Hal­stead said she doesn’t know what the buyer has in mind for the church.

In the mean­time it’s hous­ing home­less men, as con­struc­tion of the new Brock Mis­sion has been de­layed by cost over­runs (the old, ram­shackle Brock has al­ready been torn down).

At a de­bate for may­oral can­di­dates at the Lions Cen­tre ear­lier this month, Mayor Daryl Ben­nett said the buyer of the church has told him he’s not plan­ning to raze the church — or to kick out the home­less at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

“The de­vel­oper seems to want to main­tain that fa­cil­ity un­til he fig­ures out what he wants to do with it,” Ben­nett said.

If you have an idea for a pos­si­ble new home for the con­gre­ga­tion, Hal­stead said to call the church at 705-745-1411.

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