Amen to Lone Rock church


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June 28, 2016 12:00 AM

Lone Rock United Church Reverend Lorna Brick greeted parishioners for the final service Sunday with the closing of the church

The Lone Rock United Church had its final service this month, hanging up the closed sign after offering a place of worship for 55 years.
Chairman of the board, Terry Crush, said it wasn’t money that forced the decision, but that executive members moving on in age was making it hard to keep the organization running.
“Just because some of us are getting too many grey hairs,” said Crush.
“It wasn’t money problems or anything like that, it was just a lot of us had 30 years of being in board positions, that type of thing, and we have other meetings in Lashburn and we’re also amalgamated with Neilburg and Marsden—so there’s lots of meetings going on with the different bodies and that was one of the reasons—we’re just getting tired.”
The Lone Rock Community Church would see up to 25 people some Sundays, with an average of 12 to 15 visiting each week to take in services.
Crush said the church was also a big supporter of the Lone Rock community, letting clubs like 4-H and even the town’s administration use the building as a meeting room, basically free of charge.
The church was host to funerals in the past and weddings were still being performed only a few years ago.
“It’s like a death in the family,” Crush said of closing down, adding that many were visibly sad at the final service, himself included.
“There were some pretty close to tears; I think I was tearful when we had to read out what we were intending to do for two weeks, and the minister read it the second time, I think she was worried about me on the second one because I was close.”
It’s no wonder that community members held the church in their hearts after it became a cornerstone in the community back in 1961 after being converted from an old schoolhouse in Lashburn, then moved to Lone Rock where it was formally dedicated on June 25 the same year.
The final service, which took place on June 19, more than a half century later, saw nearly a full house, with people coming in from Lloydminster, Hillmond, Lashburn, Neilburg and as far off as Calgary to hear the last sermons that would ever be spoken under the church’s tiled roof.
The out-of-town guests were people once associated throughout the decades and made the pilgrimage back to say their good-byes.
“Some of them were upset, because they didn’t know it was coming,” said Crush.
“It was an executive decision and I remember the organist, she was quite upset, but she’s moved to Lloyd too, and that was another reason (for closing)—we were losing some of our main people so it was getting harder to run things.”
The decision to close was made last year and now board members are looking to put the property into the real estate listings.
The church comes with two lots of land and the building is fairly well-insulated, said Crush, with a kitchen and bathrooms.
Given the current economic downturn, though, Crush isn’t naive about the odds of finding a buyer, admitting it may have to be auctioned off instead.
“It’s kind of sad in Lone Rock, we’ve got a post office and a tea house left,” he said about the community that is slowly shrinking.
“The writing was actually on the wall a few years ago with the fact that they took our school away, I think it was about 1991, so the students from the school went all three ways to Alberta, Lashburn and Lloyd—it was a factor of commercial interest with the elevators and stuff like that going.”
Now the worshipers will have to find new places to take in their Sunday services, and much like Lone Rock’s students, will have to scatter in the winds to all directions for churches in places like Lashburn, Neilburg, Lloydminster and Paradise Valley.

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