St. Paul’s Presbyterian looking for a new home
Congregation can stay until the end of February, considering all options
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.
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.