| Sep 10, 2014

Renovations are usually not much fun but for Reverend Judith Evenden of Land O’Lakes Emmanuel United Church, designing and renovating what will be a brand new church is a dream come true.

In 2009, the Harlowe, Cloyne and Riverside Flinton United churches amalgamated and became the Land O’Lakes Emmanuel congregation. In 2011 the members made the decision to sell their three churches (and one manse) and begin the search for a new place of worship.

Evenden said that it was accessibility issues and/or lack of washroom facilities at the three churches that led to the decision to find a new place of worship. “The congregation came at that time to a place of knowing that if everyone let go of their churches and grieved that loss, we could then move forward and start fresh with a new vision and a new sense of coming together.”

Following the sale of the Cloyne United Church in October 2011, the last of the properties to be sold, the task group appointed with the job of finding a new facility decided on the criteria that needed to be met. They wanted a centrally located, accessible, and multi-purpose facility to be purchased outright so that the church would not have to go into debt.

That goal was reached in November 2013 when a three-bedroom bungalow with a three-car garage in Northbrook, which was built 10 years ago by Sandor and Eleanore Kaltner, was purchased. The building is located on a 23-acre parcel of land and is slowly being transformed into the new church facility that Evenden believes will meet all of the needs of the congregation while also serving the community.

The architect working on the project is Bruce Downey of Kingston with local contractor Mike Cumming. The 2900 square foot main floor, which incorporates the former garage space. is wheelchair accessible and boasts a 1600 square foot sanctuary. “The worship space is bigger than any we have had in the past and the plan is to make it completely flexible with no permanent furniture so that we can use it for worship but also for weddings, funerals, yoga, movie nights and other community events,” Evenden said earlier this week.

Also on the main floor are a servery/ kitchen area, three washrooms, a meeting room, main office and the minister’s study. In the main vestibule will hang a panting by Don Wise titled “Church Street”, which depicts the five churches in the former pastoral charge. A verandah that stretches across the entire front of the building will be a place for visiting and Evenden hopes to be able to have numerous walking trails on site. There are also plans that the indoor elevator on site will also be upgraded as well. Some of the old furnishings from the former churches will grace the new building, including the three crosses from the church's sanctuaries, the pulpit from Cloyne, communion tables from Harlowe and Cloyne, the organ from Harlowe, and the piano from Riverside Flinton. Many of the smaller worship symbols were also kept and will be used at the new church. “The aim is to create a safe, beautiful place where people can gather and be in the midst of nature. What we can do here is only limited by our available finances and by people's imaginations.”

The renovations have not come without challenges since as a space of public assembly the building must meet specific health, fire and building codes. “I think people are wondering what is taking so long but a lot has to be done to make sure that everything is done properly and up to code.” While most of the major construction work has been done, the drywall and finishing touches still need to be completed. Much of the work being done and the materials have been donated by members of the congregation and the community. Evenden hopes that the community will also use the space and with that in mind is inviting members of the community at large who support the values of the church to consider donating to the cost of the renovations. Those interested can contact Rev. Judith Evenden at 613-336-2655 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Evenden is hoping that the project will completed by October. “Personally I'd love us to be in here for the World Wide Communion Sunday that takes place the first week in October.” Until that time worship will continue at the Lions Hall in Northbrook on Sundays at 10am.

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