The Merritt branch of CIBC presented a cheque for $500 to the Murray Church Rebuild Project Tuesday morning.
“Last year we baked a lot of cookies and decorated them and made up baskets for Easter, and we sold them as a fundraiser,” explained Branch Manager Rani Hothi, after two of her staff presented the cheque to Christina Miller, Fundraising Chair and Coordinator for the Rebuild Project.
It has been two years since the historic Murray Church was destroyed by an arsonist, and in that time the estimated cost of the rebuild has increased as building supplies and materials have crept up in price.
“With this new challenge that’s come in (rising construction costs) this is just boosting us right up there to get our fundraiser to completion,” said Miller.
“We’re really appreciative of CIBC’s help and we’re so thankful to the community and all of the donations that have rolled in. Merritt has really just stepped up and we’re so thankful for everyone, and donations big and small are very much appreciated.”
The foundation for the replica church has already been put in place and if everything goes according to plan, the actual build begins this week.
Many of the items considered essential for the church have already been sourced or donated, along with the building material.
“The stained-glass windows are being donated by Glenn and Sue Parkinson from Twin Willows, at only the cost of the glass,” explained Linda Baird, of the Trinity United Church Board, the church which has coordinated the fundraising efforts. Murray Church was dedicated as a United Church in 1927.
“We’re still looking for a baptismal font, but we’ve got the organ and the pulpit, and somebody else has got old hymn books.”
“We have some church pews from Kamloops, and some from my home church in Saskatchewan that my family shipped out,” Miller added.
The original church bell was damaged when it fell from the belfry during the fire. Locally, Jackson’s Welding has agreed to take on the task of fixing the bell, after a quote for a replacement out of New York was estimated to cost $8,000 USD plus shipping.
The original bell was donated around 1911 by the first Canadian-born Governor General, Vincent Massey.
“We’re trying to mend the bell so we can rehang it,” said Miller.
“We’re not sure if it will ring but we’re hoping that it will, and with the way things are going I think that faith is on our side, so we’re hoping that the thing will ring once it’s welded!”
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald