Church says goodbye to the old as it prepares for the new

The sanctuary of the Living Hope Christian Reformed Church will soon be demolished to make way for a new worship area. A special decommissioning service will be held April 3 at 7pm to give thanks and share memories of the 62 year old building.

The sanctuary of the Living Hope Christian Reformed Church will soon be demolished to make way for a new worship area. A special decommissioning service will be held April 3 at 7pm to give thanks and share memories of the 62 year old building.

It will be a bittersweet moment for the members of Living Hope Christian Reformed Church in Sarnia.

The church is holding a special service to recognize its history as prepares to tear down its sanctuary. It is make way for a new million dollar plus worship area. The church has been worshiping in the building since 1952.

Pastor Richard Vander Vaart says the congregation has been planning to build the new sanctuary for 20 years when an educational wing was constructed at the Exmouth Street church. “The goal always was once the education wing was paid off to build a new sanctuary,” he says.

It took longer than expected but this summer, the congregation decided to move ahead. They raised over half of the cost of the building and will begin construction in April.

But Vander Vaart says the old worship area will have to be removed first and that will be difficult for some members of the congregation, Dutch immigrants who built the church themselves.

Vander Vaart says they will take time to mark the history of the building before it is demolished.

“The reason we’re having a Decommissioning Service is to acknowledge how bittersweet this moment is,” says the pastor. “People have been married in this sanctuary, spouses and children have been buried here…A lot of people will find this a tough service of decommissioning…also when the demolition begins it will be tough to see the building come down even though we’re excited for the new building.”

Vander Vaart says the decommissioning is not a formal worship service but a gathering with singing and a time for memories. “We’re looking forward to what is to come…and we will formally recognize that worship services have ended; this has been a sacred space for us and it will be no more.”

The service will be held April 3 at 7pm.

While the construction is underway, Vander Vaart says the congregation will meet next door at the Sarnia Christian School at 9:30 am.

Living Hope plans to be worshiping in the new sanctuary by Christmas.

– Heather Wright

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