Steeple remains grounded next to site of former St. Philip's Anglican worship destination
© — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
Bishop Cyrus Pitman of the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, wearing red, speaks during a service held Sunday to consecrate the St. Philip's Anglican Church.
Draped in red, Right Rev. Cyrus Pitman stood before the entranceway of St. Philip's Anglican Church Sunday afternoon and said the magic words.
"Let the doors be opened," said Pitman, bishop of the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
And so began the consecration service for a church that has been hosting services for 10 years.
The service closely follows a municipal appeal board's decision to side with the Anglican Diocese of Newfoundland and Labrador concerning an order by the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's to repair the old church, whose steeple was mysteriously removed in March 2010.
Rev. Edward Keeping, who has served as rector for the church since 2008, maintained a celebratory tone during his sermon on Sunday. He made note of the fact the local parish is now debt free. When he became rector, its debt totalled almost $450,000.
"Well done thou good and faithful servants of the lord," said Keeping, "and thanks be to God."
He spoke of the opportunity to have the current St. Philip's Anglican Church consecrated as a chance for a new start.
"Maybe we could think of this occasion as a time in (that) the chapter has been written and a new chapter is beginning," said Keeping.
The original church in the community sits next door to the current house of worship for followers of the Anglican faith in St. Philip's. Located on Coadys Road, it is known locally as the Church by the Sea and was built in 1894.
On March 30, 2010, the town's council rejected an application from the parish to demolish the old church. On March 31, the steeple was found lying on the ground next to the church. Council reacted swiftly, declaring it to be a historic structure that same day.
It also ordered the diocese to repair the old church. The Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador filed an appeal with the Eastern Regional Appeal Board. The board ruled last month that the town's order was legally invalid and not properly issued.
The Church By The Sea Inc. was formed as a non-profit organization by community members to help find an alternative use for the structure.
It has offered to take over the property, but the diocese has refused that offer. The organization contends the church should be saved given it is one of the few structures in the community with a history stretching back to the 19th century.
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