“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things”. (from “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll.) And so it is for the people of Knox United Church.
On Sunday, September 12, a special congregational meeting was held in-person and by Zoom for the members of Knox United Church. At that meeting, our church Board gave a realistic picture of our financial situation as well as options for our congregation and the church building going forward.
After much discussion and soul searching, it was decided unanimously by the members that, as a small and aging congregation, we no longer had the energy nor the finances to put into keeping the Knox United Church building viable.
We want to devote our energies and resources to supporting and remaining a United Church congregation as part of our Ecumenical Shared Ministry. We voted to put the building up for sale.
Knox United Church was built in 1909. Its original congregation was Presbyterian. Later the Methodist congregation joined and in 1925, Knox became a member of the United Church of Canada. We celebrated the centenary of Knox United church in 2009.
Knox United Church has now been a mainstay in Fernie for 112 years. Members of Knox United and the community of Fernie at large, have seen generations of family members hold baptisms, weddings, funerals and celebrations of life at Knox United Church.
Throughout its existence, Knox United Church and its congregation have made many adaptations. We have seen many ministers come and go— from full time United Church Ordained Ministers to part-time Lay Ministers and eventually a Diaconal Student Minister.
In September of 2019, we entered into a Covenant of Ecumenical Shared Ministry with Christ Church Anglican. Reverend Andrea Brennan, a priest with Christ Church Anglican, also became the minister of Knox United congregation. She has worked incredibly hard to learn about the policies, customs, governance and delivery of services of the United Church. We appreciate and are grateful for her leadership.
During these difficult 18 months of Covid-19 when our churches were shuttered, Reverend Andrea has taken it upon herself, with the help of tech savvy members and support from our church Board and Councils, to offer worship in both Anglican and United traditions online via Zoom.
Not only have our members embraced this adaptation of worship, but we have also added people from different parts of Canada, the United States and England to our community of faith.
We have learned that, although we have loved our building and have many wonderful memories associated with it, our strength of faith will go on without the building.
Over the past 15 years, our membership has aged and become smaller. As Dylan Thomas said in his poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
The Knox congregation has worked tirelessly to keep our building viable by having numerous teas, Irish stew suppers and garage sales. We have had a variety of groups rent out our church spaces — Girl Guides of Canada, The Fernie Academy for its various plays and musicals, concerts by community choirs and professional entertainers. Our last major renter was Our Kids’ Daycare who, this summer realized they could no longer continue to operate.
So, here we are. Over the past 12 years a number of renovations and upgrades have been made to Knox United Church building thanks to our receiving some Heritage and Columbia Basin Trust grants.
• 2008 Kitchen redone and approved by BC Interior Health for “Food Services”
• 2008 New Metal roof installed. Interior of sanctuary redone as a result of water damage during roofing replacement.
• 2010 Bell Tower west wall brick repaired.
• 2012 Boiler replaced with two forced air furnaces when boiler was destroyed by fire.
• 2019 Exterior brick repaired and Bell Tower top reconstructed to reflect its original appearance.
• The capacity as assessed by the City of Fernie is 196.
• The building has very good accoustics. It is the hope of Knox congregation that Knox United Church building will be puchased by people with a vision for the future potential of this wonderful building as a hub for community activities.
Knox Church building has been a mainstay in Fernie for 112 years. May it continue to provide an important service for the citizens of Fernie.
Lynda M. Bird/Knox United Church