St.Paul’s United Church is capping off more than 100 years in Princeton with a final gift to the community – a donation of almost $25,000 to the Princeton Flood Relief Fund.
When the church was officially disbanded in 2021 and sold to the Baptist Church, all of St. Paul’s funds, sale of real estate and bank account balance, were moved to Pacific Mountain Region United Church office in Burnaby to be distributed to established charitable causes.
“Our congregation had hoped for funds for a local legacy,” says the church’s last trustee, Ernie Lawrence. And, where there’s a will there’s a way. After discussions with the regional office, and with the help of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, a percentage of funds were directed back to Princeton to assist with flood relief.
“This was kept a secret, so the congregation folks at the presentation luncheon were delightfully surprised,” says Lawrence of the luncheon and donation reveal this past May.
The building has had a long history in the community, first owned and used by Presbyterians in 1920. In 1925, with the merger of Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists into the United Church of Canada, the sanctuary held its first service as St. Paul’s United Church on the first Sunday of December 1925.
Over the years many changes included a small Anglican congregation sharing services and member responsibilities. St. Paul’s officially sold the sanctuary in 2021, and United Church Reverend Stephen Hershy with the Anglican Bishop Lynne McNaughton helping with the final disbanding ceremony on July 25, 2021. “There was a large attendance with returning to members, ministers, church dignitaries and our congregation,” says Lawrence.
While the doors of St. Paul’s United are closed, Lawrence takes comfort knowing that their donation continues to support the community.
The Princeton Flood Relief Fund which opened in November 2021, in partnership with the Town of Princeton and the Community Foundation, closed in July 2022. Read more in this Similkameen Spotlight story