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Fiona's destructive wake has Charlottetown church facing uncertain future

Pastors say they're having conversations with engineers and contractors to see whether the Calvary Church building can be saved.  (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
Pastors say they're having conversations with engineers and contractors to see whether the Calvary Church building can be saved. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

The future of the Calvary Church building in Charlottetown is up in the air after its insurance company wrote off the structure due to heavy damage from post-tropical storm Fiona.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada church's brick home, located at the northwest corner of Capital Drive and University Avenue, may have to be torn down because the damage from Fiona was too severe.

Church administrators are working with local engineers and contractors to see if the building is salvageable. Meanwhile, there are chains on the doors, sealing off entry.

Rev. Phil Taylor first saw the damage in the building days after the storm. He said a portion of the Calvary Church's roof was completely ripped off, as well as the downspouts from the roof. Water and wind just tore through the building.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"The water was just funnelling in. As you can expect, there was a lot of water damage as a result of that," he said. "The insurance company has used the word 'written off' in their books."

Taylor said the building is an iconic structure, as it's right on the corner of one of the busiest intersections on P.E.I. — the primary entrance to Charlottetown from Route 2.

He said it's hard on churchgoers, given the many memories created there. It was a place where people found hope, too, when times were tough.

"As a pastor, you help people with grief — and there is a grieving, there is a grief, and it manifests in different ways as it does with a physical death," he said.

"Some people are really struggling to come to grips with this. It was a really big shock."

Support from Christian community

In the interim, church administrators have been meeting at other locations to take care of logistics, hold services and meet with members of the congregation.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Other churches across the Island, the Maritimes and Canada have been providing support, said Rev. Brodie MacLeod.

The Cornerstone Baptist Church gave the church a place to meet immediately after Fiona, the Church of the Nazarene plays host to youth programs for Calvary, and the First Baptist Church has made office space available.

To have that support come together and recognize the need has really made all the difference. — Rev. Brodie MacLeod

"It's just been fantastic with them," MacLeod said. "To have that support come together and recognize the need has really made all the difference."

MacLeod said no matter where they go, the church family has been able to stay together, so it always feels like "home."

Even though the future of the building isn't clear just yet, the congregation has rallied and will do what it can to see its return, he said.

"God's not going to leave us without a place to meet," he said.

"The church is not about the building; it's about the family of God doing his work. So that was the main focus amidst all the upset and uncertainty."