We've been friends for a really long time. Actually, since both of us were born, in 1749.
Both of us remember the terrible fire in 1850, and both of us rebuilt. We were both scarred by the Explosion. We both survived the VE Day riots, swept up the broken glass, and kept going. And we've shared good times too – we've both enjoyed Royal visits, Tall Ships, parades, streets full of tourists and buskers and families, and many other happy memories.
Two hundred and sixty-three years. That's 263 birthdays we've shared. You've changed a lot since then and so have we!
But while you're looking quite shiny and new in many places, the years haven't been quite so kind to us. We know we're looking pretty tired.
On the inside, we're still full of purpose. We've welcomed you on many Christmas Eves for a fun reminder of what the season is all about. We're gently returning to hosting the concerts and performances for which our building's acoustics are perfect. Did you also know we've been a movie set for locally-produced television series and movies? And that we are Halifax's best venue for organ concerts?
Even through Covid, our doors remained open. Sunday Breakfast and recovery meetings and the Emergency Warming Centre's hot meals and warm shelter from the cold were provided throughout, and for many folks who had no money left for groceries, or the power bill, or a bus ticket home to Cape Breton, we've been glad to be able to help.
We're currently sharing our Sunday space with New Horizons Baptist Church while they rebuild on Cornwallis Street. And Halifax Circus – who you love to see during Nocturne – has continued its programs throughout the pandemic too.
So we've been busy! There's a reason we're looking pretty tired on the outside. We've been using up all our energy on the inside.
And this is why we write. We would like to open a new chapter in the life of our historic church building and the land it occupies on the corner of Barrington and Spring Garden.
But we cannot do this alone. We wish we could. We can't.
But what we CAN do is welcome your ideas and proposals for a development project on our property. We're looking for a project that serves the public good. And if possible, we want to sustain our historic sanctuary (the grey building under the tall steeple) so that Halifax doesn't lose more of its built heritage. Along with offering the use of our land, we're prepared to restore and eco-retrofit the acoustically-perfect 500-seat sanctuary if it can be usefully incorporated into the kind of shiny new project we see all over Halifax.
Ideally we could continue our congregational life and outreach in its space for a few more years. If not, well, so be it. Our primary goal is to enable a legacy project that would reflect the heritage of care and service that we've tried to provide to you, Halifax, since both of us were born in 1749.
Bring us your proposals so that we can begin this new chapter. We are launching an #ImagineStMattsLegacy campaign and you can submit your ideas, dreams, and expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggestions received by May 18, 2022, will help inform decisions of the congregation's Legacy Committee.
With gratitude and hope,
St. Matthew's United Church, Barrington @ Spring Garden