They dot the countryside, these old buildings, once places of congregation where people prayed and sang hymns of praise for all the big occasions in life and the times between. Now they are decommissioned and up for sale, some bought and repurposed, others left to disintegrate. This is possibly the fate of the old church on a country road west of our city.
It is slowly falling apart, peeling paint and rotting boards,
without a time of service posted or even a name. There is nothing welcoming about this building. Former congregants, having passed to their eternal rest, fill the yard, the old headstones doing the best they can to stand vigil.
Someone has placed the fallen ones to lean against the walls. On this cold day in February, as I walk around the building and through the cemetery, the silence and cold envelop me like a shroud.
This was a Presbyterian Church, the second here in Birch Hill, the congregation having outgrown the first built in 1800. This building was started in 1858. In 1925, when the United Church of Canada formed from four Protestant religions, including Presbyterian, the congregation of this church split, some joining the United Church. They built a new church in 1928, across the road from the Presbyterian building. The United Church is still in use and in good repair.
Meanwhile the older building is crumbling.
Behind the church, among more headstones, three white birds which looked like Willow ptarmigan, flew off as I approached. We surprised each other.
However it was not surprising but somehow fitting to see such beautiful white creatures here among the ruins.