By Kimberly Spice –
St. George the Martyr Anglican Church’s calendar should be filled with events celebrating their 165 years in the community but the shadow of change hangs over the festivities as decisions are made on how to pay off its large outstanding deb
Next month parishioners will be told about the diocese’s plans to deal with the crushing $400,000 debt the small church at the top of John St. is facing.
“[The parishioners] have tried and it hasn’t worked so now the diocese, the governing body, is going to see if it can help move the situation along,” Bishop Philip Poole, bishop for the York-Credit Valley area, warns, setting the stage for the church to meet its obligation to pay off the money owing.
One idea being considered is selling property to a developer.
Opening a residence for university students, opening a homeless shelter or providing commercial space are also being contemplated.
As prime Downtown land dwindles, Poole acknowledged that every week the Anglican Diocese is contacted by a developer.
“We own lots of property all over the city and there’s not one week that goes by that a developer doesn’t say to us that they can help us do what we want to do better than anyone,” said Poole without hinting at any particular decision.
Currently Poole would like to see the church continue its presence in the neighbourhood.
“We are interested in doing ministry well in the heart of the city but look, if it doesn’t work, we’ll be looking at alternatives, but right now we are committed at keeping the ministry alive at St. George the Martyr in that particular community,” clarified Poole.
The bishop remains optimistic that future modifications within St. George the Martyr will help curb the ever-growing debt issue while sustaining the significance of the church.
“There have been a lot of changes in the city,” commented Poole. “We’ve changed and adapted with them and this is another time of change and adaptation for us.”