CANAAN, CT: Historic church to close doors after 166 years
Christ Church in Canaan will close its doors in August after efforts to increase the church's membership failed
By Bruno Matarazzo Jr.
August 17, 2012
Members of Christ Church Episcopal on Main Street made the heart-wrenching decision to close their historic church's doors in August, following an unsuccessful effort to boost membership and dwindling church funds.
The 166-year-old Gothic revival church designed by Richard Upjohn, the architect of Trinity Wall Street Church in Lower Manhattan, has been holding services each Sunday since it opened in 1846, but dwindling attendance in recent years made it harder and harder for the church to survive.
A Sad Demise
THE LITCHFIELD COUNTY TIMES
February 02, 2012
Although its doors are still open, Christ Church in Canaan may be in the final months of its existence. The venerable Episcopal church has served the community since 1844 but its congregation has dwindled and it with it, its resources.
If, indeed, the church closes, the effect will ripple through the community. Its faithful congregants will be most directly affected, deprived of the spiritual comfort of a beautiful sanctuary where some of them were baptized and married. A classic stone church, based on the design of Richard Upjohn, the American architect who pioneered the restoration of Gothic architecture for American churches, its construction materials were dug out of Canaan's rocky hills and it has been a defining presence in the center of Canaan for 168 years. Without its congregation it will become a hollow presence, another rent in the fabric of the town.
Beyond their liturgical functions, churches are cornerstones of their communities. They provide social outlets, spiritual succor and tangible assistance to the needy. Their loss diminishes the sense of unity in towns, even for those who are not physically members of a given church.
It seems unlikely that at the 11th hour Christ Church will find a solution to its problem. It has been years since it has been able to afford a full-time minister and, without a consistent leader, it is hard for any organization to thrive. Its endowments are depleted and its buildings in need of work. Only a few people sit in its pews each Sunday and the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut can offer little support-it says its coffers have been emptied by similar declines in other Episcopal churches throughout the state.
Members are praying for "a bunch of angels" that may be able to revitalize the church. It is a worthy goal and one that, perhaps, should not fall solely on the few remaining parishioners to attain. Perhaps an ecumenical effort is needed to preserve an institution that ultimately benefits all.
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