Fundraising efforts have begun to repair the northeast wall of the Union Church of Indian Point.
The 115-year-old church, a registered heritage property, has dry rot in the wall that Lindy Hyson, a trustee for the church and church secretary Heather Hyson-Simpson discovered while they were painting one day.
"Some shingles fell off and we went to put them back on and the nails, you could push them in with your thumb. We realized that there was some rotten wood there," said Hyson. "With a closer look, you could see several of the shingles were buckling and we said, we have a problem."
He said that they then checked into getting some quotes with $36,000 quoted at the top end to have the church repaired.
"This may take a year, may take a year-and-a-half. There is no water getting inside the building at this point," said Hyson. "We're not panicking yet, but we know it has to be done."
Now they've launched a GoFundMe page with a fundraising goal of $40,000, with some of the money going to GoFundMe for administration charges. The page was started August 11 and four days later they had raised $2,670, including an anonymous donation for $1,300.
Hyson said that the repairs will have to wait until all the money comes in before starting the project.
Services continue to be held at the church three Sundays per month and it is the only church building in Indian Point. Father Chad McCharles of the St. James Anglican Parish in Mahone Bay, leads a service every fourth Sunday of the month and the retired Reverend Paul Seltzer, leads services on two of the other Sundays. The church is also used for weddings, baptisms and funerals.
The church was one of the first, if not the first, Union Church built in Nova Scotia. Now, it is one of only 11 in the province and 41 in Canada.
Union Church was built over two years – 1902-1904 – and it held its first service April 17, 1904. It was incorporated February 23, 1905.
Prior to the building of the church, congregations met in the local school, but at some point, members of the Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian congregations came together with the goal of building a church that everyone could enjoy.
James Ernst donated the land and most of the lumber came from the property of Jacob Hiltz. The ceiling holds beams that resemble the framing structure of a boat. The windows are Gothic-styled pointed arches.
The total cost of the church, with the bell and furnace, was $2,289.44.
Many of the furnishings inside the church have been donated in memoriam by their families, including the stained glass altar window. This beautiful work of art was donated in 1970 in memory of Captain Robert and Mary Hiltz. The window is on the northeast wall and Hyson is concerned that if left too long that the window may crack.
Right now there no water leaks nor any damage to the inside wall. Hyson said that he hopes the contractor would be able to do the work without damaging the window or the interior.
"It's very important to me. I was raised in Indian Point," he said. "This church has been a very important part of my life. I was a bell ringer. I was confirmed here. It has always been a part of my life and it is a community icon."
"I was baptized, confirmed and married here. I want this church to go on," said Hyson-Simpson.
Hyson, who was a volunteer firefighter for 50 years in the community, said that the area has changed over the years.
"It was a very thriving community at one point with two stores, a number of business and volunteer fire department with a strong church base," he said. "But over the years it has become more of a tourist village."
The congregation has dwindled down to 10 to 14 people on Sundays and money coming in is just enough to cover the operating costs to keep the church going and there isn't any extra for major repairs such as fixing the wall.
There are a couple of other repairs that need to be done in the church as well, such as repairing the steeple and repairing a wall that had some water damage done to it last year. If any extra money does come in, or the cost to repair the wall isn't as much as anticipated, it will go to those two projects.