The million-dollar restoration at First United Church is complete, and that brings a big smile to Rev. Valerie Kingsbury’s face.
“It’s so nice to have the work all done,” she said. “It’s much brighter inside now, and everything looks so nice.”
About seven years ago, those at the church learned the building needed extensive repairs in order to stay open. Members of the congregation donated money and the steeple and roof were repaired. Then they were told the windows were structurally unsound, and could be blown in if there was a storm with very high winds.
There were 14 windows, about 18 feet high, that needed to be replaced, and because the church is a heritage property they needed to match the old ones.
The church entered the National Trust’s ‘This Place Matters’ contest with the ‘Windows into the Future’ project. Members of the public went online and voted, and the project – with 107,806 votes - beat out 24 others from across Canada to win the $60,000 grand prize. The publicity also generated more online donations.
Installation of the windows began in May, and each one took about a week.
Walkways were also repaired.
“The committee was very diligent about cost savings, and there was enough money left to fix part of the parking lot,” said Kingsbury. “That was a bonus.”
She said the vast majority of the money for repairs came from within the congregation, but other community members also provided valuable contributions.
“I think they probably supported it because it’s a landmark in the town,” she said. “People in Truro understand what it is to lose historic sites.”
Chris Bowman, minister of music at the church, noted that the building is used by many people who aren’t members of the congregation.
“This place is recognized as being a community hub, with the mental health programs, and musical groups working out of here,” he said. “There’s not a day goes by that the place isn’t used for at least a couple of events.”
Kinsbury added that, although people make up the church, having a physical location is very helpful.
“Having a home from which to move out into the community makes a difference; it helps us do what we’re called to do,” she said.
“We’re grateful to our people and community; to those who felt called to journey with us. Without them, we would not be where we are today.”
To celebrate, the church is holding a beans and brown bread lunch at noon on Nov. 17, followed by a service of rededication.