Third Avenue United Church has held its final service and decided to close its doors amid dwindling popularity.
One last service was held on Sunday, ending its 113-year run as a place a worship in Saskatoon.
“It’s sort of the end of another era,” , said Kenneth Holmes, chair of the unified board of the Third Avenue United Church.
“There’s a lot of people who are quite sad about it. It’s taken a long time to get to this point where we can actually know that we are closing down and that we no longer will be a congregation.”
With the congregation shrinking year-after-year, closing with 25 to 30 people according to Holmes, costs of up keeping and heating the pre-First World War Gothic stone building became too large for the devoted few.
A decision was made last spring to be out of the building by June 30.
“It was a matter of point where all of a sudden our numbers had dropped significantly to where our donations weren’t doing what they needed to do to be able to keep us going,” Holmes said.
The building itself opened nearly 105 years ago to the day. A fitting anecdote as Rev. Dr. Alan Minarcik offered up a sermon centred on remembrance, starting with a question.
“We look around and who would have ever thought this time would come to us? That which we treasure so much is now gone,” Minarcik said.
Minarcik said depleted congregations are nothing new for United churches across Canada, but the memory of fond times will always help the community.
“It will always exist in our memories, in our hearts, in our laughter and in our tears,” he said.
“Remember Third Avenue. Remember its goodness.”
No word on what the future holds
Ruth Gregor was never a member of Third Avenue United Church, but always found a way to return to the landmark building.
His fondest memories inside were the University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing graduations, which used to be held at the church every spring.
“This friend of mine graduated as nurse, it was something she wanted to do, and she stood out like a star,” Gregor said.
No matter the occasion, Gregor knows the memories will always be significant.
“Every birth, a wedding, a funeral is a big deal,” she said. “(The church) should be remembered with big thoughts.”
There hasn’t been any immediate announcement regarding what happens to the empty structure now, but Holmes said it shouldn’t be too far away.
“The building has been sold and the new owner is going to be doing some renovations to it and creating something that he’s got in mind,” Holmes said, not wanting to reveal anything more.
“To the congregation, it seems to be something that is worthy of the building.”