A group of local volunteers is seeking a heritage designation for the recently closed Cumberland United Church building.
The Cumberland United Church (CUC) closed its doors and its congregation disbanded two months ago, following a special farewell service on Oct. 29 and a final service on Nov. 26.
According to members of its congregation, finances were the main reason for the church’s closure.
The CUC operated in the village for more than 120 years. The church was established in 1888 when Cumberland was still known as Union Mines.
Meaghan Cursons presented a delegation on behalf of the volunteer group at the Village of Cumberland’s Jan. 8 council meeting. Her presentation highlighted how the old church was a symbol of Cumberland’s working-class roots and an artifact of the village’s past.
“There is no doubt we need the space as a community,” she said to council. “And this is so much more than just a building. The value added by the stories embedded within the walls is significant.”
The church building — which is for sale — is currently owned by the BC Conference of the United Church of Canada. Cursons said the United Church has expressed support for the building’s community heritage values.
But with the building up for sale, she warned Council that the “long-term commitment to these heritage values cannot be guaranteed.” She said a heritage designation by the Village would protect its status regardless of who eventually buys the building.
“That would achieve protection of the physical part (sic) of the building regardless of the future owner so that that particular heritage infrastructure is maintained for the future,” she said.
There are four other churches within the United Church of Canada in the Comox Valley. One is in Union Bay, one is on Denman Island, one is in Courtenay, (St. George’s) and one is in Comox (Comox United).