An attempt is underway to rebuild the historic Murray United Church near Merritt. (Photo credit: Submitted)

An attempt is underway to rebuild the historic Murray United Church near Merritt. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Efforts to rebuild historic Merritt church receive a needed boost

An anonymous donation of $50,000 has committee members hopeful fundraising goal will be reached

The people leading the effort to rebuild the historic Murray United Church near Merritt—which burned to the ground in January 2019—have received an early Christmas gift: an anonymous donation of $50,000.

The donation came as the fundraising committee was on the verge of meeting to see if they could realistically meet their goal. A GoFundMe page and other donations had only raised just over $50,000 of the estimated $180,000 needed to rebuild the church, before the anonymous donation was received at the end of November.

Murray United Church—built in 1876—was one of four churches in or around Merritt targeted by an arsonist within a two-and-a-half hour span on Jan. 10, and burned to the ground on Jan. 11. One of the few things salvaged was the church’s bell, which was badly damaged.

READ MORE: Historic Nicola Valley church destroyed by fire

On Jan. 17, RCMP announced that they had arrested 37-year-old August David Caprian of Merritt, who faces three charges of arson and one of break and enter with intent to commit an offence.

Regular services had not been held in the church since 1957, but Easter Sunday and Christmas services were still observed there on occasion, most recently at Christmas 2018. The church was also available for weddings and special events, and some 600 visitors a year came there in summer, with students on hand during the two months it was open to provide tours.

It was the first Protestant church in the Interior of B.C. and the oldest building in the Nicola Valley, as well as the only building still standing made with locally grown and milled Nicola Valley lumber. In 2018 Trinity United Church in Merritt — which oversaw the site — had received funds to replace the stained-glass windows and reinforce the bell tower. The church was insured, but the coverage was limited to the cost of cleaning up the site.

This past summer, the plan to rebuild moved forward when the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) board voted to rezone the one-acre Murray Church property from rural to institutional, to accommodate the cemetery at the site and allow for the rebuilding of the church.

The TNRD’s director of development services, Regina Sadlikova, noted that when the church was built there were no zoning requirements for the property. She added that the TNRD hoped to work with the committee so that something as close as possible to the original church could be built while still adhering to modern building codes.

Including the recent anonymous donation, a total of $105,000 has been raised, putting the committee more than halfway towards meeting its funding goal. The donation has also renewed interest in the project, and committee members hope that this will assist them in reaching their goal. One member said that they now have more spring in their step, and it is hoped that within two years, those driving by the site will see a restored Murray United Church that is identical to the one that was lost.

The GoFundMe page is still accepting donations, and the committee has come up with a new fundraiser, which allows people to purchase one of the original church chimney bricks for $50. These bricks will be used to rebuild the church’s chimney, and people are being encouraged to purchase one in their name, or the name of a loved one, as a Christmas gift.

To make a donation or buy a brick, go to the GoFundMe page at http://bit.ly/345mt3E. If you would like to purchase a brick, label your donation “buy a brick”.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

The Desert Daze Music Festival is doggone good fun, as shown in this photo from the 2019 festival, and it will be back in Spences Bridge this September. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
‘Best Little Fest in the West’ returning to Spences Bridge

Belated 10th anniversary Desert Daze festival going ahead with music, vendors, workshops, and more

Internet speed graphic, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay
Study asks for public input to show actual Internet speeds in BC communities

Federal maps showing Internet speeds might be inflated, so communities lose out on faster Internet

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August 2019 about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
Elections BC approves petition application for referendum on Surrey policing transition

Application was filed under Recall and Initiative Act by the widow of a Surrey murder victim

Fiery crash on the Okanagan Connector between two semis. (Facebook)
One dead after fiery Okanagan Connector crash between two semis

DriveBC estimates road won’t be open until 5 p.m.

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits to failing to supervise his staff and find, report the shortage

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Athena and Venus, ready to ride. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Goggling double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to B.C. commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

A Photo from Sept. 2020, when First Nations and wild salmon advocates took to the streets in Campbell River to protest against open-pen fish farms in B.C.’s waters. On Dec. 17, federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced her decision to phase out 19 fish farms from Discovery Islands. Cermaq’s application to extend leases and transfer smolts was denied. (Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror)
Feds deny B.C.’s Discovery Island fish farm application to restock

Transfer of 1.5 million juvenile salmon, licence extension denied as farms phased out

Most Read