Historic church destroyed by fire on track to be rebuilt after anonymous $50K donation

Nearly 10 months after the historic Murray United Church burned down in the Merritt area, members of a fundraising committee had almost given up hope.

"We were at a loss," said Christina Miller, who is leading the effort to rebuild the church. 

Donations had been dwindling for the 143-year-old church, which was one of four churches targeted by an alleged arsonist in the Nicola Valley. 

However, things took a turn at the end of November, when the group overseeing the fundraising at Trinity United Church found out that someone had anonymously donated $50,000.

Submitted by Christina Miller

"We were just like walking on air. I had tears in my eyes. I couldn't believe it," said Miller.

The fundraising committee had a meeting slated for the following week to determine if their efforts to raise $180,000 were no longer attainable. 

Instead though, their meeting became about building off the big donation. 

"We wanted to really [grab] onto that momentum," she said. 

So far, they have raised $105,000 from a GoFundMe campaign and other donations, including the surprise cheque that was dropped off. They have $75,000 left to go.

Miller and the rest of the committee have started a new campaign where people can buy bricks that fell from the chimney of the original church for $50, to help rebuild the new one. 

Up until now, the bricks had been sitting in the yards of church members. 

"We've decided to do in lieu of a Christmas gift, buy a brick toward rebuilding the chimney at the Murray church and put it in someone's name," said Miller.

The campaign has seen a recent surge of activity and she thinks it's because of the $50,000 donation.

"I think it re-sparked people's excitement about it."