The ongoing pandemic means activities are uncertain this year for the Friends of St. Mungo’s, who support the historic St. Mungo’s United Church in Cushing (Brownsburg-Chatham).

According to church member Sandra Goorbarry, who is also part of the Friends of St. Mungo’s organization, the only event the church held in 2020 was a picnic on August 15 for members of St. Mungo’s, Grenville, United Church, and Lachute United Church. Each congregation is part of the Laurentian Area Ministry of the United Church of Canada.

“Everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time because, for most of us, it was the first time that we had seen anyone outside our own homes,” said Goorbarry.

The picnic was held entirely outdoors. All attendees sat far apart and brought their own lunches.

“The progress of the pandemic does not hold out too much promise for this year,” said Goorbarry, who is hoping things improve as more people are vaccinated.

“We are thinking about repeating the picnic this August and combining it with an outside church service,” she added.

Regular Sunday services are not held at St. Mungo’s, however special services are held throughout the year, including on Christmas Eve. There was no Christmas Eve service in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the congregation is hoping one can be held this year.

St. Mungo’s church was built in 1836 as a place of worship for many of the Scottish settlers in the area. The historic building, with its yellow brick and red trim – set back from the road on a tree-lined lane – makes it a popular wedding venue. The church will still be available for weddings in 2021, but under Québec COVID-19 regulations, attendance is presently limited to 25 people.

The Friends of St. Mungo’s have not had a meeting in more than a year due to the pandemic. A core group of about 10 volunteers keep the organization active. The Friends of St. Mungo’s hope to resume larger activities once it is possible.

The pandemic has been an organizational and financial challenge for churches everywhere. According to church member Cecil McPhee,the two oil furnaces at St. Mungo’s need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $27,153.76.  The church recently received a $25,000 grant from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program for upgrades to the electrical panel and two new electric furnaces, which will be installed at the church. Work is beginning this month. Donations and the church restoration fund will cover any costs not covered by the federal grant.

McPhee is hopeful the Open Circle seniors’ program at the church can resume and be expanded once pandemic restrictions are eased.