TATAMAGOUCHE MOUNTAIN – A small country church that had been a part of this community for more than a century has been sold but will be maintained into the future.
The Salem United Church on Tatamagouche Mountain officially closed on Sept. 15 after being a part of the community for about 127 years. The building has since been sold and a monument will serve as a reminder of its place in the community. SHERRY MARTELL –TRURO DAILY NEWS
Jim Baillie, chairman of the former Salem United Church on Tatamagouche Mountain, said the congregation held a vote last March with the majority of members agreeing to close the church. The final service took place on Sept 15.
“That was the last service and it was decommissioned during that service,” said Baillie.
He said the congregation explored a number of ways to keep the church operating, but in the end, after years of trying to reach a standard required by the United Church, the congregation was not “financially viable.”
“We knew it couldn’t last forever,” said the chairman. “We closed on our own. The United Church didn’t close us.”
A monument dedicated to the church was erected on the property just prior to the last service. Baillie said the congregation had been planning that project for more than five years.
The face of the black marble stone is inscribed with the words “A journey in faith … 1886 - 2013, Salem United Church, Tatamagouche Mountain, N.S.”
“We could see that day coming,” he said. “In case we didn’t have money (at the closure of the church), we wanted to present that to let future generations know there was a United Church there.”
Baillie grew up in the area and said Salem United was his “home” church and the closing service was “emotional.”
“I shed a few tears, for sure, it meant a lot to me but it means a lot to know that the building will be maintained,” he said.
He said the building was recently sold to a woman from British Columbia who has plans to move to the area.
“I feel it’s gone to a good home,” said the chairman.
Attendance at services varied during the past 10 years when only about a half-dozen people were regularly ministered to at the church. About five years ago the congregation as a whole made a concerted effort to boost membership and attendance grew to an average of about 32 people.
“In recent years it just dropped off to about 20,” said Baillie. “The spirit was there but the ability to do the tough part, the finances, wasn’t I guess.”
A portion of the revenue from the assets of the sale and of the former church will be donated back to support other community initiatives with the remainder supporting United Church projects around the world.