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Elim Lodge restoring Chapel after foundation begins to sink

by Ben Clarke

Changes are coming to Elim Lodge as staff has announced they will be restoring the facility’s Rustic Chapel.

Originally constructed in 1951, the Rustic Chapel was built using the old cedar rails from the fence rows that lined the farm of Clara Telford. The foundation was also built using stone from further fence lines that once marked the Telford property which bordered Elim Lodge.

At this time, the foundation of the Rustic Chapel is sinking at an alarming rate. If this is not corrected the structural integrity of the building will be compromised, with the potential for the eventual collapse of the building.

“Even though the Rustic Chapel is just a building, it represents a huge part of Elim’s heritage and has played a vital role in its ministry over the last 60-plus years,” said executive director David Rivers.

The Rustic was the first chapel on Elim’s grounds and often had so many in attendance that people had to sit on the lawn outside. Since then it has also served as a meeting place for numerous retreat groups and most recently as a home for our children’s program.

“The Rustic Chapel has always been a place that encourages fellowship and many friendships have begun within its walls,” said Rivers.

“For these reasons we are now in the process of doing everything we can to restore the Rustic Chapel so that it will remain a central part of Elim’s ministry for many years to come.”

The total cost of the project is about $85,000 and to date just over $33,000 has been raised.

In order to accomplish this task, the Rustic Chapel must be raised and a new foundation and floor poured. To pour the foundation the Rustic was lifted and moved to allow for construction.

A section of the base of the Chapel will be removed and the building will then be raised and shifted to space on the right of the Rustic Chapel where it will reside until the new foundation is in place and a new floor has been laid. The Rustic Chapel will then be moved back to its original location.

Elim Ministries was founded in 1946 by Mrs. Pearl Arnold as a Christian Retreat and Conference Centre. Bernie Aldridge, who had been director of Extension at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, purchased Elim in 1963 and continued with his wife Ruth, to provide an oasis of tranquility in a beautiful setting for guests from both Canada, the U.S. and beyond.

Elim Ministries became a not-for-profit corporation in 1974 when four Brethren churches in Peterborough banded together to purchase it from the Aldridge family. In the next few years Elim expanded from 15 to 48 acres and new buildings were added, including the chapel. Elim Lodge now has over 75 acres of land.

A completion date has not been released at this time.

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