Grace United Church board chair Janet Boley, left, and pastor Wade Allen are seeking input on the future of the 71-year-old church in Coombs. — J.R. Rardon photo

Historic Coombs church on the brink

Public meetings to be held Sunday and Monday to determine fate of Grace United

Pastor Wade Allen would probably say the future of Grace United Church is in God’s hands.

But a bit of input from parishioners and the greater Coombs community would be appreciated.

The historic, 71-year-old church is tucked in between the Coombs Old Country Market and its famous Goats on the Roof on one side, and the Coombs Emporium on the other.

It’s a choice piece of real estate, but that hasn’t stopped the dwindling of the church’s aging congregation. And if something doesn’t change in the next year or so, the church may have to close its doors altogether.

“Where we’re at right now is we probably have anywhere from nine months to a year that they can afford to pay me to be here,” said Allen.

Grace United has scheduled a pair of community forums this week to address options to keep the church viable.

The first meeting will be held Sunday, June 4, from 2-4 p.m. A second meeting will follow Monday, June 5, from 7-9 p.m.

“We need the local community,” said Janet Boley, chair of the church board. “We’re trying to draw the community here for those two get-togethers to share what we can do, and what they can do to help keep us here.”

Despite the fact thousands of people walk right past Grace United — some of whom stop to take photos of the building — that traffic does not find its way in the doors.

“It’s like we’re a blind spot,” said Boley. “It’s really weird; we’ve had vendors set up out front and people just walk right by.”

“And it’s a blind spot for locals, as well,” Allen added.

He said the community must first decide whether it wants to have the church at all. If so, it must choose the role of the church in the community.

“I’m fairly confident we can get to a point where we have concensus,” said Allen. “The concensus right now is we are going to die. The difficulty is getting people to say whether or not they want to do anything about that.”