Although the congregation sold their church building and property at 724 Trueman Rd. in 2016, the members continued to meet at the Gibsons Public Market, and then virtually once the pandemic began.
“We were just getting our footing really when COVID hit. And then that just pulled the plug on so much of church life,” Rev. Terri Scallon said.
Ultimately, two factors came into play: the aging congregation and the pandemic.
Scallon said many of the church’s members are in their 80s and 90s, and thought the best use of their resources may be to close and give back to the wider church community, doing right by the donations they received. So at the end of 2020, they took a vote. The strong majority, Scallon told Coast Reporter, voted in favour of closing the church.
On April 11, Scallon will give the last sermon to the congregation of the Gibsons United Church. After more than 100 years, the Gibsons United Church will have come to an end.
Speaking of serving the Gibsons congregation since 1998, Scallon said, “You get to go through the whole cycle of life with the parishioners. So that's been very, very wonderful, really.”
Scallon said now that virtual worship is readily available, members can choose to worship with almost any group they like.
“St. John’s United Church in Davis Bay has reached out to us and welcomed our people into their congregational life. So that’s a definite possibility. I know that some of our people will go there. Others may choose to just stay closer to home and maybe go to St. Bart’s, even though it’s Anglican,” Scallon said with a chuckle.
The last service will be a celebration, and act as a reminder that their faith is not bound to a place.
“We have done the work of grieving over the past year in our decision-making for this. Now we’re ready to go out on a high note, celebrate and laugh together and remember the good times,” Scallon said.
“My message to the congregation is pretty simple. It’s just that I have been very privileged to be part of their lives, and so often at very important parts of their lives. And it’s been an honour to serve them.”
As for Scallon, she plans to stay on the Sunshine Coast and continue operating her equine-facilitated therapy at Listening Horse Ranch in Roberts Creek. She’s applying to become a registered clinical counsellor and looks forward to opening a private practice.