Holy! 100 years

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July 19, 2016 12:00 AM

An old church in a local community recently passed an important milestone last month, marking a century of service to its parishioners.
According to one devoted follower, the Maidstone United Church, which had its 100 year anniversary on June 26, offers a sense of solidity to its members.
“Stability I think,” said Doreen Smart, a past chair who was on the board for 20 years. 
“It’s something where the older ones find it vital, where as the younger ones expect it to be there and expect it to be stable to find their ground in there.”
Smart said the church was full for the 100 year celebration and it was exciting to see because so many past members came back to partake.
She said a lot of the old ministers came back, as well as people who used to belong to the congregation from previous years and decades, making it a marvelous day to be a part of.
“It’s hard to believe 100 years flies by,” she said.
The United Church celebrated by having a big church service with pictures of past weddings, Sunday school classes, choirs and ministers who once performed there.
The number of parishioners is dwindling, however, something Smart said could be a sign of the times.
She said all the old members have died, the younger ones have moved on to find work, and the newer people coming into town are mostly working for oil field companies and don’t really become part the community in a traditional sense.
“They don’t really integrate with the town like your ordinary ones would, and our young people have moved out to work, so there really isn’t the community spirit anymore like there used to be when we were just small; now we’re spread out and we’re not integrated,” she said of Maidstone.
Smart started attending the United Church in 1955, and back then you had to show up early or you’d be left standing up the whole time.
There were up to 100 members in those days, when the church was complete with Sunday school and church choirs, but all that has stopped, though they do still offer a Christmas carol ecumenical activity.
“Oh goodness, when I first started going to church here, you had to go early or you wouldn’t even get a seat in the annex,” she said.
“Now it would be probably 15 years since we had Sunday school, because in the good old days I’d have 27 kids in my Sunday school class, now of course we’re lucky to have that many in church, our congregation has gone down to about 25 regulars, maybe 30.”
It’s those 20 some odd regulars who are keeping Maidstone United alive, and hopefully for the sake of the church, more start coming so maybe it can celebrate 200 years down the road.

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