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Why does money from church sales go where it does?

Ron Walter discusses the closing of local churches and where the money should go
Trading Thoughts with Ron Walter

Planned sale of several Moose Jaw churches raises the question: where do proceeds from sales of church property go?

Two large local churches — Minto United and St. Andrew’s United - are up for sale. Congregations have dwindled and can no longer handle the financial costs.

A third church from another denomination hasn’t yet officially announced a sale. And rumour has it that a fourth church is considering sale to move to a larger structure.

For years a number of rural and urban churches have been sold and the congregations joined others of that denomination. By my count, Moose Jaw has lost at least five churches in that manner.

Private owners across the Prairies have turned churches into single family dwellings, apartments, bed and breakfasts, retail outlets and community centres.

The closure and sale of churches happens all over North America.

When the Prairies were settled the church was the first or second public building put up, occasionally serving as a school and community centre until the school was built.

The churches were built with sweat sacrifice and funds by local members – members who often struggled to make a living.

Their faith gave them the strength and courage to continue and build a place of worship.

It is sad to see these places of worship with all the memories closed and sold. No wonder 39 per cent of adult Americans believe the world will soon end.

It seems natural for the congregation of a church that is sold to at least have some say in where the money is distributed.

Not so.

All of the Big Three established church organizations — Anglican, Catholic and United — require the money from sales be sent to headquarters.

(I think) it would only be fair to have the money distributed by the congregations, whose descendants built the structure.

In the case of St. Andrew’s and Minto it would seem most sensible to take funds from the sales and use the money to restore the heritage Zion United Church.

Zion’s impressive structure on Main Street has needed restoration work for more than a decade. The $1 million plus funds have not been available.

Restoration would offer Moose Jaw a church that would serve for generations.

Allowing local congregations some say in where these funds are distributed would benefit the churches’ image and help dispel a belief held in some quarters that church denominations are more about building treasuries than saving souls.
Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.



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