Kuujjuaq’s Anglican parishioners look forward to new church
“We wanted a real church, with a peak and a bell tower"
Members St. Stephen’s Anglican church congregation in Kuujjuaq are in the final stretch of fundraising before construction is set to begin on a new church this summer.
The original St. Stephen’s church, built in the 1950s, was moved from its original site at Fort Chimo sometime in the 1960s, Kuujjuamiut recall.
But since the 1980s, Anglicans in Kuujjuaq have attended services in a yellow building that’s had foundational and flooding issues in recent years.
“They’ve done a lot of upgrades over the years, but it’s really time for a new building,” said parishioner Jason Aitchison, who also serves as treasurer to Kuujjuaq’s Nayumivik Landholding Corp.
On an average Sunday, between 20 and 30 Kuujjuamiut attend services, led by Rev. Abraham Tigulagak. But those numbers swell during holiday services at Christmas and Easter, and for community events, such as marriages and funerals.
The vast majority of Kuujjuamiut identify as Anglican, Aitchison said.
“We wanted a real church, with a peak and a bell tower,” he said. “The old church looks more like a storage warehouse.”
The new building will fit that image with high ceilings supported by wood beams and natural wood finish. The new church, set to be built on a vacant lot in Kuujjuaq’s core, has been designed by Montreal architect Nicolas Blais.
Originally tagged at $4 million, the church committee later opted for a scaled-down version with a price tag of $2.8 million.
The project is about $250,000 shy of that amount now, said Johnny Adams, a long-time congregant and volunteer at St. Stephen’s who is coordinating fundraising efforts.
“We’re getting to the end now,” he said.
The new church will offer seating for 210, with room to accommodate 266 for special occasions.
The church’s new location, between a municipal garage and the old Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, offers plenty of space for the church and parking, he said.
“We’ll make sure there’s room to extend the building in the future, if need be,” Adams said.
The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic did not have the means to fund Kuujjuaq’s new church, parishioners said.
Instead, a number of local organizations have stepped in to help, including the municipality, the local landholding corporation, Société Kuujjuamiut Inc., and the Kativik Regional Government.
The rest of the funds have been donated by parishioners and private citizens, Adams said.
The church will also feature additional office space to be rented to community groups to help offset the church’s expenses.
The new St. Stephen’s could open as soon as 2017.
The Diocese of the Arctic has operated an Anglican mission in the region since 1899.
Rev. E.J. Peck was the first to cross from Hudson Bay to what was then Fort Chimo in 1884, although the first church wasn’t built in the area until 1957.