Fate of St. Mark's Fleming to be discussed at public meeting this Sunday
January 31, 2020 11:33 am
The fate of St. Mark's Anglican Church in Fleming will be discussed at a public meeting being held this Sunday, Feb. 2 in the Fleming Community Hall at 2 pm.
The church is part of the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle, but for the last three years, no regular services have been held at the church, which has a congregation of about five people.
However Phil Hamm, one of the local wardens for St. Mark's, says interest has been expressed in keeping the church and maintaining it for special services. He says there has been discussion about deconsecrating the church and turning the building over to the Town of Fleming, or to a committee that cares for it and handles fundraising for the building.
The church needs a new metal roof, which would require some fundraising and would cost between $11,000 and $15,000, and Hamm says some funds have already been set aside for the project.
“There have been people wanting the church to stay and to be renovated and kept at least for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving services and we've also had some interest in having some kind of a program for children,” says Hamm.
“Some of the people that (want to see the church maintained) belong to other denominations but have said they would like to help. The problem is that it is an Anglican Church and the Anglican diocese owns the church on the property, and so if you were to do fundraising and people make donations, then nobody local owns the building.
“The diocese owns it, so we've had some discussions with the bishop and the local parish and it was decided that probably the best way to go is to de-establish it as an Anglican congregation, and for a token amount it would be turned over to someone else if there is enough interest locally to sustain it.”
Hamm says the meeting on Sunday will be to determine how much interest there is in having the town or a committee own and maintain the church.
“It's just to gauge what level of interest there actually is,” he says. “We do have funds. I'm guessing it's between $6,000-$7,000 in the bank for this, and the parish is more than prepared to spend that money. It has been raised locally. It's actually in the parish funds but they would transfer it to a group if there was a responsible group that was going to go ahead with the restoration work. And the bishop was prepared to come down. He would have to do a service of deconsecration which would probably be in the spring.”
Hamm says the building would need a metal roof as well as electrical upgrades over time.
“There is no heat in there at all. So if we were to put electric heat in there we would have to upgrade the electrical service as well,” he says. “What we would probably use in the meantime until we got that far would just be some propane heaters to heat it for special services.
“If there enough interest then we would look at the rewiring and introducing some electric heat.”
Hamm says if the church were deconsecrated, it would become a community, non-denominational church that could be used for special services and events like weddings.
He says he hopes anyone with an interest in keeping the church comes out to the meeting Sunday.
“We'd like to just see how much interest in maintaining a Christian presence in the community there is, and if we can get a committee,” he says. “What we don't want is to continue on just having a handful of Anglicans making the decisions and taking on the responsibility. We want it to be reflective of a community as a whole. If local people within Fleming or any of the surrounding communities wanted to come and worship here, they could.”
What will happen to the church if there is no local interest?
“The church would be deconsecrated and the diocese would probably offer anything for sale that is in the church at the moment,” says Hamm. “If we carry on we can keep whatever is in the church.
“If it is to be closed and the parish doesn't want to be responsible for it and the diocese doesn't want to be responsible for it, then it would be put up for sale, and if somebody were to buy it for whatever purpose, they would have it, and if not then the parish would have to pay to have it demolished.”
What does Hamm want to see come out of the meeting Sunday?
“I'm hoping that we can have a local group that will continue to operate the church and do the restoration work and operate it for special services if there is enough interest that can be further developed, and maybe have a few services once a month and go from there.”