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BEHIND THE SCENES: ‘Bittersweet’: Churchgoers attend final service at Holy Trinity site

SooToday's Alex Flood takes us behind the scenes

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on SooToday's Alex Flood — whose story "‘Bittersweet’: Churchgoers attend final service at Holy Trinity site" — was published on June 16.

Below is the full story, in case you missed it.

Another chapter in one of the city’s longest-running religious institutions has come to an end.

Attendees of Holy Trinity Church gathered in the pews to rejoice in song and prayer one last time on Sunday as the 63-year-old place of worship will soon be demolished.

The Northern Avenue East church will be replaced by a nine-storey, 108-unit apartment complex.

Nine-storey apartment building proposed by Cara Community Corp. at the site of Holy Trinity Anglican Church at 352-360 Northern Ave. Supplied image

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said minister Susan Koyle. “I will miss the large fellowship space that we had.”

Originally from Timmins, Koyle was brought in by Archbishop Anne Germond last April to help lead the church’s transition into its temporary space next door at the Trinity Centre, which includes a seating area, coffee station, and a giant Algoma Public Health approved kitchen.

That centre, along with the church, are owned by the Cara Community Corporation — a non-profit housing corporation founded by Holy Trinity’s congregation in 1979.

Current installment of Holy Trinity Church has provided worship at the corner of Northern Avenue and Great Northern Road since the late 1950s. Alex Flood/SooToday

Cara will be expanding its affordable housing in the area with the $35-million apartment building, which will mark the corporation’s fourth major development.

More than half of the tower’s main level will feature a brand-new church space under the Holy Trinity name.

Excited to see that vision materialize, Koyle told SooToday she’s grateful that Cara has kept their members in mind throughout every emotional and sometimes difficult phase of the transition process.

“They’ve set aside a nice space for us every Sunday,” she said. “It might not feel like the usual idea of a ‘church,’ but it’s exciting because we’re moving closer to what the very early church experience was: coming together, sitting around in a circle, praising God, and being a community.”

The Trinity Centre will oversee services for churchgoers as they wait for new space on the main floor of future 108-unit apartment complex. Alex Flood/SooToday

An Anglican Church of Canada, Holy Trinity has served the Sault since 1918 when its first service was held in a little white church at Huckson’s Corners, Tarentorus that was used for the next 43 years.

In 1959, sod was turned for the existing church building before a new wing was added on the west side of the structure in 1986, which includes Holy Trinity's distinctive white cross.

Frances Glover has seen that evolution firsthand as she’s been a devoted member of the church for the past 70 years.

Minister Susan Koyle (right) leads final worship proceedings inside the 63-year-old Holy Trinity Church site on Sunday. Alex Flood/SooToday

“This is going to be a tremendous change for the congregation because all the memories are here,” she said. “This is my church family. If you look out at that congregation, there are three, and even four generations in some cases. The faith is there, the strength is there.”

At 90 years of age, Glover has served on both the Cara board and the Trinity board.

Among the things she’ll miss most about the building are all of the events that have taken place inside the historic structure, and of course the many members and friends who have passed on over the years.

But she’s filled with an immense sense of pride knowing the Holy Trinity name will forge ahead.

Churchgoers conclude proceedings with special prayer inside the Holy Trinity site on Sunday. Alex Flood/SooToday

“The focus through 40 years has remained the same: safe, stable, sustainable and affordable housing,” she said. “That’s the main theme through the whole thing. We did it once, we can sure do it again.”

During a historic service on Sunday, churchgoers concluded the main portion of their proceedings with a special prayer inside the Holy Trinity site before they walked over to their temporary new home in the Trinity Centre for a final prayer and blessing.

“It’s symbolic,” Koyle explained. “The building is gone; the church is not. The church is the people, it’s us — not the building. This is a very strong community, and I’ve felt right at home since day one.”

Nearly 75 churchgoers come together at Holy Trinity for one final service inside the historic building on Sunday. Alex Flood/SooToday

As SooToday reported last year, the remains of the deceased, whether it be coffins buried or ashes scattered in or around the church property, were transferred to the columbarium and the scattering garden at St. Luke’s Cathedral.

The timeline for the apartment complex is currently undetermined.

 with files from David Helwig and Darren Taylor