Placing history and music at the centre of the community: The United Church and Leith community collaborate to fill this community space with life.
The restoration was completed in 2002 and the Friends of Leith Church shifted their efforts to developing and maintaining a robust programming schedule including the Leith Summer Festival (five concerts over the summer), religious services, an annual Ceilidh, monthly fiddle jams year-round, a Country Market, and have also hosted special events like weddings and reunions.
The great financial and critical success of the Leith Summer Festival required an increased management and oversight, and it was determined that a committee of the Pastoral charge was no longer the appropriate model. A new non-profit organization was formed in 2017, and they have entered into a lease agreement with the Pastoral Charge to rights to use and maintain the church.
Now a registered charity, the new organization has also partnered with the local Community Foundation to create a permanent endowment to fund the building’s long-term care, while providing donors with charitable receipts.
Leith Church and the Friends of Leith are early trailblazers in faith building repurposing. As a small community faced with the loss of their only gathering space, they sought innovative alternative models to maintain the heart of their community. Their successes and longevity can be attributed to many interrelated factors:
Playwright Marcus Youssef upon accepting this year’s Siminovitch Prize for playwriting gave a speech that clarified my interest in the intersection of faith communities with the broader community. Youssef wrote about his interest in points of intersection and the space between people, spoken and unspoken.
Two passionate individuals invested their own time and money, and established the right partnerships to keep the small chapel in Wanup, ON at the center of their community.