Special to The Journal
The public is invited to see the inside of Mandaumin United Church one last time this weekend before the 135-year-old church closes it doors permanently on June 26.
The church, built in 1881, is one of 30 sites on this year’s Open Doors tour.
Long-time member Keith McManus says the church leaders began talking about closure three years ago and finally made the difficult decision this year.
“This church was entrusted to us to do what everyone else has done through the years, but reality comes along and money is about to get tight,” he said.
“We want to shut it down with dignity.”
On the walls hang photos of early families, including a missionary couple the congregation sent to work in Africa, and a mural painted by the Rev. Earle Waghorne for its massive 75th anniversary
Waghorne, an inventor and a bundle of energy, built the church’s pipe organ, had a printing press for his own magazine, and built an industrial-scale chicken roaster. The 75th anniversary program boasted of a 500-pound chicken potpie that was served for lunch during the three-day celebration, which also included fireworks.
His daughter renewed the mural after fire in a wood-burning furnace destroyed the choir loft in1956.
The congregation began meeting on Confederation Line in a schoolhouse in 1842.
In 1859, the congregation moved into the village of Mandaumin and built a frame church across the road from today’s brick edifice. It was the centre of activity with Sunday services and dinners and social events throughout the year.
In the 1960s, the church added classrooms for 100 Sunday schoolers, a hall and a study for the pastor.
But, like many churches, the number of people in the pews is shrinking and greying.
“When I first came here, this church was one place I really felt welcome,” said member Cathy Young. It’s the community and people that make a church ... You got to see a lot of the neighbours during those other services and special community events … It’s one of the things I’ll miss the most.”
The church will be open for Doors Open on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday, June 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Light refreshments are served.
The church is at 3008 Confederation Line, at Mandaumin Road. For more, call 519-383-8079.