For some 40 years, the Anglican/United Shared Ministry has been pleased to open the historic St. Peter’s Anglican Church (the Stolen Church) in Windermere during the day for the summer months. The guest registry shows it has been visited by many locals, fellow Canadians, and people from all around the globe.
Many have visited because they or their parents were married there. Many return for a visit because that is where they had their children baptized. Some come because it is a sacred and spiritual place. Some come because they are interested in history, a history of how the valley has developed and grown since the church was “stolen” and moved to Windermere at the turn of the 1900’s. A history showing how religion played a part in that development.
Due to COVID-19, we haven’t been able to open the church since April of 2020. With the restrictions now being relaxed, we decided to start opening the church once again at the end of June. Unfortunately, on July 4, that came to a sudden end. That afternoon a group of, we believe, young teens, entered the church and decided to do some mischievous vandalism. Fortunately, none of it was destructive but never the less it was vandalization, some potentially dangerous and enough so it was decided that for the safety of the church it would have to be kept locked up for the foreseeable future. At least for the summer.
Observations from the nearby residents suggest strongly that it was a group of 10 to 14-year-olds on bikes that came from somewhere in Windermere. They not only came in the afternoon but they returned later in the evening and were told that the church was now locked.
It is unfortunate that an incident like this has to spoil it for others who might come to visit our little bit of history here in Windermere. As innocent as those that took part may think their actions were, it shows disrespect for the property of others and, in this case, a spiritual and historical building. It was being treated as a playhouse, not a house of worship. We can only hope that the parents, and the children themselves, will read this letter and dwell on what they have done wrong and turn it into a learning experience.
We gladly welcome children into the church, but with the right purpose and for the right reasons. We would hope that they would return with their parents, and learn about the early settlers and immigrants who decided to come and to stay in the Windermere Valley and develop it into the friendly, open community that we all share with our First Nation friends.
Anglican/United Shared Ministry