The parish of St. Peter’s, Rosedale, will close at the end of 2007 after serving people in the eastern Fraser Valley for 96 years.

A special vestry (membership) meeting of the parish, with 16 of the 22 people on the parish rolls present, on Dec. 9 voted to petition Bishop Michael Ingham to close the parish.

St. Peter's in Rosedale

“There was sadness on the part of many people,” said Don Rodger, the People’s Warden. “But they understood.”

Rodger said most of the parish is elderly, with only a few people under sixty. “I’m 71 and I’m one of the youngest guys in the congregation.”

The church building is nearly 100 years old, built in 1911-12 with volunteer labour, and has many problems. It needs a new roof, windows, and wiring, which would easily take around $40,000 to repair, and there just isn’t the money.

Parishioners can’t do the repairs, he said: “You can’t have 80 year old guys climbing up ladders.”

Jennifer Dezell, Legal Assessor

At Diocesan Council, Legal Assessor Jennifer Dezell, one of the diocese’s legal officers, said the parish would soon send a letter to the bishop asking him to close the parish, as stipulated by diocesan Canons. He can do this since three-quarters at the vestry meeting voted to close.

“They have made this decision entirely on their own volition,” said Bishop Ingham.

Rodger said what brought on the decision to ask the bishop to close the parish was basically a lack of energy to continue on.

“I asked how many people would be willing to serve on Parish Council come next February. Nobody was.” There was no one who could take on the Ministry Assessment Process (the “MAP”) as requested recently by the diocese of parishes in the east end of the Fraser Valley.

“If this was a business, this church would have been gone a long time ago. It was just sucking up money from the diocese,” Rodger said.

Interior of St. Peter's

Organized in 1911, the church building was constructed on land purchased for $575 in 1912. It was consecrated by Bishop Adam de Pencier in September of 1912.

In 1945 it was doing well, even overpaying its apportionment in 1945 when it was in the charge of a young Rev. David Somerville (later bishop). In the early 1960s it added a recreation hall, kitchen, meeting room, and offices.

But financial resources of several upper Fraser Valley parishes were diminishing a few years later, and it became part of the “area parish of Fraser-Cheam” in 1971, in the early years of Somerville’s episcopate. The area parish experiment lasted until 1986, but ever since then parishes in the eastern Fraser Valley have shared clergy and resources.

Rodger said that after the parish closes he expects most people will worship either at St. Thomas in Chilliwack or St. John’s in Sardis. Almost everyone at St. Peter’s lives within 20 minutes of one or the other; only three parishioners actually live in Rosedale, still a rural village surrounded by agricultural land.

Rodger said the last service at St. Peter’s will be held on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. He hopes many former parishioners and priests will attend. Bishop Ingham will preside. He said the service will include the baptism of a grandchild of one of the parishioners.