In April 2016, the parish of St John the Evangelist in Ladysmith voted 81% in favour of disestablishing (terminating the legal entity of the parish) because of lack of funds and an aging membership. This closure represented a significant loss for the local community and the diocese as a whole.
Shortly after closure however, the diocese was approached by a potential buyer for the property at 314 Buller Street in Ladysmith and on April 28 the sale to Ladysmith Resource Centre Association (LRCA) was finalized.
LRCA plans to redevelop the site as 30-40 units of affordable housing, dedicated to seniors, adults with developmental disabilities and individuals who struggle in the competitive rental market. "This is such an an exciting time and this purchase creates an opportunity for the LRCA to support the community while creating a social enterprise for the future of our organization," says LRCA executive director, Shannon Wilson.
For its part, the diocese recognizes the death-and-resurrection nature of this transaction. “I am very pleased affordable housing will be born out of St John the Evangelist, Ladysmith. Our diocese is always seeking justice for those at the margins of our society and to support those efforts that strive to eliminate the housing crisis in this province. We commend Ladysmith Resource Centre Association and look forward to the care and support they will bring to those in need in Ladysmith," says Bishop Logan McMenamie.
The bishop asks that Anglicans across the diocese continue to pray for members of the former parish of St John the Evangelist, that they will continue to find spiritual homes in other parishes within the diocese, that God's peace will be with them as this community milestone settles into their hearts, minds and spirits, and that a sense of Easter hope will replace the grief that accompanies such loss. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!