Carol Hadland, one of the church elders, at the First Presbyterian Church in Prince Rupert. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

The last service of Prince Rupert’s First Presbyterian Church

93 years later, the historic North Coast church was decommissioned on May 30

More than 110 years after the first Presbyterian church service was held in Prince Rupert, the congregation held its last service.

Since 1925, the First Presbyterian Church has overlooked the coastal city from its perch on Fourth Avenue East. Now, on May 30, 2018, the church’s congregation gathered in the gothic-style building for the last time.

“We were very sad about this happening, but our congregation dwindled down to six people,” said Carol Hadland, the clerk of session and a church elder.

“It was very disappointing, especially at Christmas when there were only two families. I think the writing was on the wall then that God probably has another plan for this building.”

READ MORE: Christians unite for one service in Rupert

Over the years, many church-goers had either passed away or moved away. The fate of the church was decided at the annual meeting of B.C. Presbyterians. There was just no way six people could afford a minister.

“It’s always the mighty dollar,” Hadland said. “Even with church, you need money to run.”

Hadland herself had been attending the First Presbyterian Church in Prince Rupert for 65 years — her whole life. It’s where she was baptized, where she attended Sunday school and where she worshipped every week.

“A lot of our families have been through a lot in the church — births, deaths, being baptized. We’ve just worked really hard to create a family church. With the closing, you’re losing memories,” she said.

“It’s pretty sad because you always thought it would always be there, and now it’s not going to be there.”

But for the last service, many more people joined the congregation to say goodbye to the church. The crowd spanned generations as babies murmured and some, whose grandfathers had designed and built the building, sang hymns. Laughs were shared and tears shed. They took communion, the last breaking of bread in the building, and blessed the religious items like the baptismal font and pulpit that had served them for so many years.

“I was shocked to see so many people here,” Hadland said. “It was wonderful to see everybody here. It made me feel like the community is giving us support and that they’re sad to see it close, too, as a church.”

As Reverend Shirley Cochrane gave the final sermon, titled “The everlasting promise,” she said the service was a call for a celebration of the full lives that had been lived in and around the church. Cochrane had been ordained — twice — under the same roof. She recounted when the church once caught fire (the varnish is still bubbled on the staircase) and when the building was accidentally and controversially painted red.

Throughout the service, the ministers spoke of the resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps the old church would be given new life, too, they said. All of the church’s belongings, like the tables and chairs they once used for luncheons and Sunday school lessons, have been given away to other organizations in Prince Rupert.

As for the congregation, while not everyone has decided where they will worship, Hadland said the idea of a group Bible study had been discussed.

“I’m hoping and praying that the doors will open for us and we will all find a new congregation to welcome as our church family.”

The building was to be listed for sale the next day.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City — From Ohio to the North Coast

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Communion was led by Shirley Cochran, the church’s last minister, and ministers from across B.C. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Carol Hadland has been a member of the First Presbyterian Church for 65 years, her whole life. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Harbour debris burned in Tuck Inlet

400 cubic meters of material being burned by the Harbour Debris Society until January 17

Is Terrace prepared for a rail disaster?

Council asked to review surge in dangerous goods movement: “I live in the blast zone,” says resident

Rainmakers dominant over the weekend

Junior and Senior boys basketball teams score victories over Prince George

City asks residents to write MLA, MP to help with water issues

Prince Rupert council addressed the ongoing water boil notice on Jan. 14

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Most Read