On January 11th, 2019, the residents of Merritt and Canada as a whole, suffered a great loss. Arson was the cause of a tragic fire that took this beautiful, national historic treasure to the ground in a pile of ashes. Many people all across Canada and even the world have been devastated by this loss.
The humble little Murray Church was built in 1876, by the local citizens of Merritt, BC and the surrounding Nicola Valley. It's walls standing strong, being built of Nicola Valley lumber, original stained glass windows allowing the warmth of sun into the sanctuary, as well as many other original and refurbished, ornate pieces of history that so many hands had toiled to preserve over the last almost 143 years. The walls of this little church held within them, many stories of a past that no one walking on earth today would even remember. It also echoed an intermediate past where living citizens of both Merritt and all over still remember worshipping there when they were young or caring for the grounds. And lately, in it's recent past, many still-passionate people who have worked, cared for and/or worshipped three times a year at Easter, Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve. As well, other community events were held there; Antique Quilt Shows, Weddings and a Chamber Music Concert. It's walls still full of life!
Recently, the Murray Church had been given Canada 150 grant money which was used to repaint the inside and outside, repair the windows and walkways of the cemetery as well as place a memorial stone of those in unmarked graves, in it's small, but rich historical cemetery. This included over 2500 hours of volunteer work, a three year project that was just completed this last year in 2018.
As well, a summer student also worked many hours in the church, welcoming it's many visitors in the summer months and giving tours to many from all over BC, Canada and the world!
There were many more plans for this little church for the future. But none were to be realized after this senseless crime.
But the church's original brick chimney still stands and points to sky as a symbol of strength, a beacon of hope, to keep looking up and keep going. So the people of Merritt and the Nicola Valley, including prompting and encouraging words from citizens all over Canada and abroad, have decided to rebuild a replica of the Murray Church. It is planned to build it to as exact specifications as is possible, given the lack of original building plans, due to the era of when the church was built. The plan is also to add electricity which was never put in to the original building. All the people of our little community have been affected by this loss. The citizens of Merritt are using this as way to come together as a community where each and every person can take part and leave their own “fingerprint” in the new walls of the church. New walls, that will hopefully be built once again using Nicola Valley lumber, new stained glass windows where the warmth of the sun that shines through will be a little warmer because of all the hearts that came together to make this project possible.
written by Christina Miller (with approval of the Trinity United Church Board - Merritt, BC) *Private donations can be made out to: "Murray Church Project " Sent to: Trinity United Church P.O. Box 175 Merritt, BC V1K 1B8 (tax receipts will be issued for donations over $20)