Local pharmacist Michael Haddad outside the United Church in Hensall, Ont., this month. Part of why he is putting up money to buy the church is that he worries that because Hensall has an older population they’d be unable to attend another church. “How about all those people who don’t drive?” he wondered. “How can they pray?” (GEOFF ROBINS /FOR THE TORONTO STAR)
In an astonishing reversal, Hensall United Church, officially shuttered in November, has been saved — imbued with new life just in time for Christmas by an Egyptian immigrant’s spirit of giving.
At a time when rural congregations are shrinking and small-town churches are closing — the United Church of Canada alone has been losing seven a year in southwestern Ontario recently — Hensall has a saviour in its midst, an improbable one at that.
The 131-year-old Protestant church, in a community not known for its diversity, is being resurrected by a Roman Catholic from the Middle East.
Michael Haddad, the town’s pharmacist for the last eight years, stepped forward to purchase the building. That he will reopen it as place of worship makes this an unusual story of rebirth.