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Catholic church closed one day before 'Doors Open' event in Halifax

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It was doors closed for St. Patrick's Catholic Church on 'Doors Open for Churches' day in Halifax.

The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia put on the event in the Brunswick Street area, which invited people to go inside four historic churches. The day before the event, St. Patrick's was ordered to close due to safety concerns with its steeple.

"The order on the door says if we get an engineer to certify it's safe, we can re-occupy," said Blair Bead, who is known as the church historian.

The notice was put up Wednesday, with the church closing Friday.

"It was such a surprise. There's been no chance to make a plan. Only time to take out the plants and clean the fridge," said Bead.

This installment of 'Doors Open for Churches' was created in response to the threatened closure of St. Patrick's. Bead said they were looking forward to opening their doors, but instead, they're set up outside with photos from inside the church.

"Unfortunately, because we're officially closed, you can't see a heritage organ, beautiful stained glass windows, and all kinds of things that makes the interior of this church a jewel box," said Bead.

"It's really important the city consider keeping [it]."

Bead said in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, around 5,000 people would gather at the church on Sundays. He said they don't get as many these days, but it still holds importance in the community.

"We're a small group but diverse. Downtown Halifax has a lot of new faces and they're coming to church. It's kind of nice," said Bead.

There's no timeline on when St. Patrick's could reopen.

Another one of the churches participating in 'Doors Open' was New Horizons Baptist Church on Nora Bernard Street.

"Our forefathers and foremothers started this building 192 years ago that used to be the African Chapel, then Cornwallis Street and now New Horizons," said Lana MacLean, the church's trustee chair.

A photo of New Horizons Baptist Church in Halifax. (Stephanie Tsicos/CTV Atlantic)

New Horizons recently underwent $3 million renovations, which included making the building accessible.

"It's been four years of homelessness until we were able to come back a year and a half ago," said MacLean.

"We wanted to maintain our heritage designation, so we really didn't do a lot in terms of changing the footprint."

New Horizons has also adapted to the digital age, ensuring people can participate from anywhere in the world.

"I think we have to be very intentional around how we do worship. So the conventional ways of doing worship on Sunday mornings is one way. The other way is using technology," said MacLean.

"The facility is completely wired. So we can have folks who are living in Toronto who are still New Horizons family members be able to livestream in. We are always trying to ensure that we create legacy."

MacLean said New Horizons strongly believes in social justice, and is welcoming to everyone.

"We are doing our best to be reflective of the needs of the community and the changing diversity of the North End. So we hope that people will come in, feel welcomed and get a blessing," said MacLean.

During renovations, New Horizons also added gender neutral washrooms on one of its floors. MacLean said the next project is to create a comfortable space where families with neurodivergent children can worship.

A photo of St. George's Round Church in Halifax. (Stephanie Tsicos/CTV Atlantic)

St. George's Round Church and the Little Dutch Church also participated in 'Doors Open for Churches' on Saturday.

The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia said St. George's is the only round church in Canada. According to the Heritage Trust, The Little Dutch Church is one of the oldest churches in the province, and is the second oldest building in Halifax.

The purpose of 'Doors Open for Churches' is to draw attention to church buildings at risk of closure.

Click here for a photo gallery of the churches who participated in 'Doors Open for Churches' day.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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