|A recent trip to St. Matthew's United Church in Halifax to listen to the Lunch Bunch community choir sent me down the memory lane of visits to various church conversions.|
I am not a church goer, nor a follower of organized religion. My parents were members of a church when I was young, and I attended Sunday School every Sunday until I was old enough to switch to the services. Much to the chagrin of my parents, I rebelled when I hit the age of 16 and stopped going. It was a year when the young brother of one of my friends died, the father of another friend died, and my own brother, who was 17 years my senior, lost his battle with brain cancer. I was not happy with the world, and religion wasn’t my answer. That does not mean that I do not give thanks every day for the blessings in my life.
I do, however, love visiting old churches and a peaceful feeling always washes over me when I walk through their doors. I also enjoy photographing them, although I have yet to capture the essence of how they make me feel in a two dimensional image.
And, to the bewilderment of my husband, I have always wanted to live in a converted church. I have dragged him to several abodes over the years, in Ontario and in Nova Scotia. Some were already fully converted, and some were a work in progress. Many people, my husband included, would be dismayed at changing a church into a private residence. But I believe that giving new life to any unused building is something to be celebrated.
We visited one residence during an open house. It was partially converted, which lots of work still to be done. We drove by a another while we were living in Ontario and vacationing in Nova Scotia. It was located across the road from the ocean, a more scenic spot than a lot of churches have. They catch my eye, and my interest, no matter where they are located.
We used to travel around the back roads of Eastern Ontario in a bright yellow Miata, and often drove south through small towns like Athens and Delta. Every time we drove through Delta, we would sing "Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?" in perfect harmony (not). It was something that one of us started, and then both of us continued doing every time we passed through the area in one of those silly rituals that only people who have been together a long time can relate to.
We also passed an absolutely beautiful converted church every time we drove that road. But one time we went by and there was a for sale sign on the lawn. Do you want to turn around and go back, my husband asked after we breezed by. Yes, of course, was my reply. He began to regret asking that question.
|One of many rural churches now privately owned and waiting for new life.|
Finally, figuring that this dream had been taken way too far, I was told that he was absolutely not interested in moving. His strategy of thinking I would come to my senses had backfired. I was devastated, and cried my heart out sitting on our backyard deck. We were on different pages during that whole period of time, and my dreams were dashed. It was a tough one to get over, and I kept my photographs and looked at them every day until I knew it was time to move on from that particular dream.
But dreams are dreams, and aren’t always practical. I still look at listings of churches when I see them, even though we have no ability to renovate. Practicalities are not my strength, but why worry about feasibility when dealing with a dream?
Besides, if that dream had come true, then I wouldn’t have ended up living another dream in Nova Scotia.
Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be living in one any time soon, I do enjoy visiting church conversions, and there are some lovely ones to see. Wineries and art galleries located in former churches are lovely to visit.
Now, I wonder if the former Baptist Church in Bridgewater is being converted to condos or apartments? There’s always something new to focus on.
published in the South Shore Breaker - July 14, 2017