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Monument to people’s commitment to island


PICTOU ISLAND – It was the kind of party where you leave with a full stomach and dripping in sweat.

Pictou Island Church has gone back to its people. The community purchased the building in 2014, and spent a day this past summer repairing and cleaning it. 

At least 30 volunteers, some of whom have little to gain from spending their summer’s day killing mould, vacuuming, and replacing shingles, spent a July day at Pictou Island’s annual work party and potluck, preparing their church for use.

This year, the fundraising and labour efforts of islanders and their friends were more personal. It was for a staple of the community that over 100 years ago they banded together to build, and had recently come together once again to purchase.

“You can’t replace this. You can’t replace the energy and the feelings people put into this church when they built it and then the people struggling to maintain it over the years,” said Nancy MacDonald, one of the members of the church committee, about why she got involved in the year-long process to take ownership of the church.

“I just think it’s a monument to people’s commitment to the island in a more spiritual kind of way. I know people have different ideas of what happens over here on this island, but to me, it’s about the support and just the acknowledgement of what people have done before us….”

The Pictou Island Church held weekly services throughout spring, summer and fall until the 1960s. Since then, the congregation started to shrink and it became more of a struggle to maintain.

“One of the things that really bothered the community as a whole was the fact that the church was spending seven to 800 a year on insurance that we were never going to see anything for. If the church burnt, the presbytery would get the money,” MacDonald said.

The committee and the presbytery agreed on a price of $3,500, half of which they would fundraise while the island community association would contribute the rest.

They gathered pledges from 60 people – and finally took ownership in 2014, beginning repairs and cleaning just this past summer.

MacDonald would like to see it used at least four times a year, one of which would be a service.

“Any religion could conceivably do a service here if they wanted to, subject to the church committee’s approval. We’re of the mind that we’d like it to be used… as long as it’s used in a positive, non-negative way....”

She envisions more concerts like the one they had in July that saw nearly 100 people fill the space to watch the 11-piece Tuesday Night Band, at least 15 of whom took advantage of a ferry the group chartered.

They raised about $1,500 from the concert, which has helped for repair and maintenance. They also raised $4,000, which will help with operation costs.

They’re open to ideas about what kind of events can be held at the church, opening it up to weddings, memorials, and entertainment with hopes of having at least one children-themed event.

“I just want kids, especially kids connected with the island, to get used to using the space. They might think of things we can do here.”  

 

Amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

 

FACTBOX:

• Construction started in 1908

• Completed in 1910

• Originally named Sutherland Memorial Church

• 15-member congregation in the beginning

• $50 donated by each island household to build, or manual labour 

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