West Hants church amalgamation example of leadership, forward thinking

Carole Morris-Underhill
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As members gather to bid Juniper Grove United Church farewell this month, they do so not with just heavy hearts, but with a sense of optimism for the future.

The stewards of Juniper Grove United Church recognized the writing was on the wall for their small congregation several years ago. Instead of throwing up their hands in despair, they buckled down and did something about it.

Their savvy has resulted in the best possible outcome for the Falmouth church and its devoted members.

Unlike churches that sit idle, wallowing away on the housing market for years after financial demands force the congregations to fold, this historic Falmouth landmark already has a new owner. Not only has the building been sold, it's still going to be a gathering place of sorts.

The church was purchased by a descendant of Benjamin Curry — the man who donated the land Juniper Grove sits on. Better still, the church members were told the building will remain intact, with plans to transform the site into a venue that offers public performances.

And, instead of members being left without a church to call their own, the church stewards saw to it their faithful congregation would always have a home.

Recognizing that the distance between Falmouth and Hantsport is not as great as it was in the days of horse and buggy, the congregations of Juniper Grove United Church and St. James United Church, in Hantsport, did something rather progressive. They voted to amalgamate. They will join as one, officially, on June 8. They will also democratically decide upon a new name.

This co-operation, this ability to work together for the betterment of both congregations, is a sign of good leadership. And it's a sign of a very bright future for the newly formed church — whatever name they choose to adopt.

The church's success amidst uncertainty is a prime example of how much can be accomplished when the sole focus is on the betterment of the community.

Their success serves as a beacon of hope for other groups, organizations and municipal units on the verge of disbanding. It's proof that working together for a common good is not all for naught — and that with perseverance, and some compromise, positive results are forged and friendships strengthened.

Juniper Grove United Church may be closing its doors, but it's not the end of the line for the congregation. Rather, it marks an exciting new beginning and a journey that we should all be watching.

 

 

Organizations: Juniper Grove United Church, St. James United Church

Geographic location: Falmouth, Hantsport, St. James United Church West Hants Hants County

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