Church lives on after sale of its building

Christ Lutheran Church members now attend other congregations now that their building has been sold

A local church building may be closed and sold but the church itself is not completely gone.

Christ Lutheran Church, 60-years-old this year, dwindled in congregation to the point where it was put up for sale and the remaining church members joined other congregations in town.

“The one thing that is for sure with the church coming down: the church is the people, not the building,” said longtime and charter Christ Lutheran Church member Bertha Watmough.

Before the church building was constructed, the members first met in the Odd Fellows Hall when it was on Lakelse Ave.

They also held services in the wing of the church building until the church itself was built.

At the beginning, the church had the services of two pastors from Prince Rupert who alternated and then one came from Kitimat.

In 1959, the church welcomed its first full-time pastor: pastor Grandberg.

Construction on the church building started after the land was cleared in 1955.

What became a large section of clear glass bricks with a blue cross on the front of the church started out as its front door.

When it was decided to use the other door on the wing as the main door, Bertha’s husband Gordon suggested the glass bricks in place of the front door.

Someone else suggested the cross.

Originally, the congregation numbered about 30 and when a lot of people from Europe came here after the Second World War, it swelled to more than 100 – at one time, there were 120 just in Sunday school, she said.

“But then it got that you only needed a church for baptism, marriage and burial, so the numbers started to go down,” added Watmough.

The final service was held June 1 with the 10 or 12 remaining members.

Lance Stephens, retired Anglican Church priest, gave the sermon that day and was the regular pastor for the last few years.

He had been filling in for about 25 years when the church’s regular pastors went on vacation or between pastors.

Many members are going to the Christian Reformed Church now or the Lutheran Church of Canada here, said Watmough.

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