Historic church set to close

CLOSING TIME: Deacon Mike Vawser prepares to close the Lyndoch Baptist Church doors one last time on April 30.
CLOSING TIME: Deacon Mike Vawser prepares to close the Lyndoch Baptist Church doors one last time on April 30.

After more than 150 years of history, the Lyndoch Baptist Church will close its doors on April 30.

Deacon Mike Vawser said the decision to close the church was a unanimous one due to the condition of the structure.

“We were without a pastor, but we’ve been in that situation before,” he said.

“Now that the church is in such disrepair, and the congregation is shrinking in number and getting older, everyone saw the writing on the wall.

“Rather than wait until there was no-one sitting in the seats, we decided we would have a meeting, we voted and it was unanimous that we decided we would close the church after 158 years.”

Efforts to prevent the closing were slammed shut by impossible financial figures, which Deacon Vawser said “wouldn’t make sense financially”.

“The very experienced building inspector said a ballpark figure of $130,000 would be required just to fix the footings, which doesn’t fix the cracks, the roof and everything else that needs fixing,” he said.

“It’s not dangerous at the moment and it’s safe to use, but it will get to the point where it is dangerous.

“We took the step before the inevitable happens.”

After the doors close on April 30, the church will be in control of Baptist Churches of SA.

“We as the Lyndoch Baptist Church don’t decide what happens to the premises,” Deacon Vawser said.

“I’ve been told when a church closes and property is sold, that money doesn’t go just into general revenue, but is earmarked for any future building of a new church in the area, which may enable someone to start all over again.”

It’s a bittersweet taste for Deacon Vawser, having been involved with the church since 1989.

“Being a small church, it was very friendly and I felt very welcome here and stayed,” he said.

“It’s been a real family.

“It’s mixed feelings here, but because I’ve been associated with it for so long, and it’s been a family and friendly atmosphere, I’m sad that it’ll finish.”

Deacon Vawser’s concerns were the uncertainty of many relics of the church, such as the stained glass windows and dedicated pews.

“I’m expecting a call from Baptist Churches of SA about how do we shut, what do we do, what do we own, what do BCSA own, what can we sell, what can we give away, all those sorts of things,” he said.

“What do we do, for example to our dedicated pews, we’re going to have to track down the families of these pews.”

The celebration on April 30 will invite people to come and say farewell to the church.

“The plan for April 30 is to have what was our normal morning service at 10am, but to invite people who have some significance in the history of the church here,” he said.

“We’ll have morning tea, then we’ll shut the door.”