The enormous triangular stained-glass windows (seen at the right) were executed in dalle de verre
02 . 06 . 2012

Resurrection for Pines Chapel

AUTHOR Ellwood Shreve

Pastor Larry Forsyth’s face beams with pride as he shows off the work that’s been done to restore the former Pines Chapel.

He has plenty of stories to tell about the work that has gone into preserving the historic landmark.

“I’ve spent more time on my knees here than in any other church I’ve ever been in,” said Forsyth, who runs Joshua Ministries with his wife Lorraine.

Along with an extensive clean up of the facility, the Forsyths and a group dedicated volunteers have installed ceramic and hardwood flooring, built a stage, and are working on creating a small coffee shop to be named “The Hub.”

While a lot of elbow grease has gone into the upgrades since Joshua Ministries acquired it from the Caleb Group for $1 last July, there’s been a miracle of sorts.

It certainly sped up the restoration process.

Someone anonymously donated $100,000 to the project. Forsyth said the gift came shortly after a philosophy statement was developed that outlined the facility’s aim of serving the community, by being a gathering place.

He said the donation came with a simple statement.

“I just really want to support that,” it read.

The generous donation has helped to “finish the big things,” Forsyth explained, noting the building is now fully heated. It went five years without heat.

Once the heat was turned back on, he said they rented a huge dehumidifier, which they left running for months. The moisture in the building had caused the drawers, cupboards and doors of the beautiful built-in cabinetry to swell to the point they couldn’t be opened, he added.

Some hidden treasures have since been uncovered, including the original design drawings for the stained glass windows that adorn the rotunda-style chapel. These will be framed and hung on the walls, he said.

The sanctuary has also been repaired, including the leaking roof and pipes, which caused damage to the beams.

It was once feared that the chapel, which was built attached to the former Ursuline Motherhouse, would be lost when the Caleb Group bought the property. The motherhouse has since been converted into the Caleb Village retirement residence.

Forsyth credits the efforts of Caleb’s staff to find someone to take over the chapel.

Upon seeing the building, it was love at first sight.

“We just saw the majesty and the beauty of this magnificent facility,” Forsyth said.

The goal is to capture the essence of that in the restoration and not change the building, he added.

Lorraine Forsyth said, “we’re picking up on the history from talking with people.”

She said the Ursuline Sisters have a huge legacy to live up.

“It’s amazing . . . what they did in this community,” she said.

However, she noted with all the effort that has gone into restoring the inside of the building, there isn’t much left to restore the outside facade at this point.

Larry Forsyth said they are applying for Trillium funding in the hopes of raising money for that project.

Interest has been expressed by the VON, as well as Christian Horizons, for using space within the building. Forsyth envisions holding “Coffee House Nights,” where people can come and perform music.

Other plans include using two apartments in the chapel as places of refuge for people having a hard time in life.

However, he said, there is still work to be done, including adding washrooms, and getting final government approval before opening up the facility to the public on a larger scale.

Forsyth said the vision for the facility is blending gospel, church and culture together.

“It should be something that lives and breathes all together,” he said.