Whether it’s welcoming people in need to enjoy a hot meal on Saturdays or filled with families enjoying the fun of Messy Church, Centennial Hall at All Saints Anglican Church serves the community.
Built in 1998, the hall is home to the Saturday Street Lunch, the Good Food Box, all-candidate forums, the Directions Centre, music nights and a wide variety of social and educational events such as wedding receptions, concerts and workshops.
But after not quite two decades of serving the community, the hall is in serious disrepair, and the church is reaching out in an effort to raise a significant amount of cash to fix the structural problems.
“When our hall was originally constructed it was a gift from the All Saints of the ‘90s to the All Saints of the future,” said the Rev. Canon Chris Harwood-Jones, priest at All Saints. “I was present at the beginning of the process that culminated with the new hall, and watched as Peter Davison dared the congregation to dream big and build for growth. They dug deep into their savings and their estates and made it happen. Though many of that generation are now gone, they and their successors have continued to chip away at our building debt until only about $25,000 of it remains.”
Harwood-Jones said the problems with the hall first came to light two years ago when the exterior surface of the building showed staining in a number of places. But what appeared to be only a need for cosmetic work soon revealed more serious, underlying problems.
Church member and structural engineer Rene Bourcet volunteered to look into the situation and connected the church with engineering firm Reed Jones Christofferson (RJC).
“We received a report that identified it as a leaky condo problem,” said Harwood-Jones. “The report said it’s rotting, and that it’s a design flaw which caused the problem and we are stuck with it.
“It’s irrelevant whose fault it is, but what has happened is that moisture gets into the wall and does not get out, so it’s rotted out at least one of our support pillars.”
Harwood-Jones said the cost to restore the hall is estimated to be $850,000, although nothing is certain until the actual restoration work uncovers the full extent of the damage.
While the church will need to secure a bank loan, it is reaching out to its congregation and the community it has served for so many years.
In order for fundraising to be successful, the church needs both one-time gifts to reduce the amount needed to borrow, and recurring gifts to allow the church to service the debt.
“As well, many people making small contributions can make a big difference.”
Harwood-Jones said All Saints has been blessed to have the volunteer services of Kirby Lockhart as fundraising chairman. The financial advisor and former pastor is a parishioner at the church.
“We accept online donations through our web site, and special envelopes at church, plus pre-authorized giving,” said Harwood-Jones. “And we’ll have a point- of-sale device set up after services. It’s bringing us into the 21st century, so this has been very helpful and wonderful.
“I’m also prepared to ask for help with the community because it is a community building. Our two major community outreach efforts — the soup kitchen and the Good Food Box — would not have had a home without the hall, and we donate the space to those groups, while other groups pay us a small fee.”
Harwood-Jones said this was the year the mortgage on the hall was going to be burned, and he was hoping to focus on other things such as writing sermons, providing pastoral care and playing music.
“I’d rather be focusing on other things than this,” he said. “I need to emphasize that while we are fixing our hall we will still need to pay our staff and maintain our current operations.
“The church has a track record of serving the community, that’s what we do, it’s part of who we are, without expectation. It’s a church hall, but the church gives it to the community and we would love the support and if the community supports us we’d be very grateful.”
All Saints will hold a number of fundraisers in the coming year. The first is a Garden Concert taking place Sunday at 7 p.m. at a private home in the BX. Church band Cross and Crown performs, playing all the music that doesn’t work on a Sunday morning: classic rock, jazz, blues and original tunes. Tickets are $20, available at church on Sunday and through the parish office today between 9 a.m. and noon. For inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org