In the centre core of Saint John, a variety of churches are perched along the top of a low ridge that runs along the South End peninsula. From every viewpoint, you can see steeples rise above the cluster of low and high-rise buildings.
Like the rest of the western world, the city has seen changes in its religious and ethnic demographics in recent years. Some churches have closed, and others have had to merge congregations. Those that remain are struggling to pay their bills while trying to speak to modern spiritual and community needs in a time when many consider such institutions stagnant or of questionable value. The gap is widening between those who are looking for a traditional religious practice — in most cases, that merely means “what I grew up with” — and those who feel excluded by obscure rituals, exclusively male language and a holier-than-thou attitude.
Are the steeples merely a symbol of our past or do they have have a role to play in the future? God knows.
Taken on October 2, 2010
The uptown core of Saint John is fairly low key. Aside from a small cluster of tall buildings at the foot of King Street, the majority of the central city — much of which is 19th century streetscape — is no higher than four or five storeys. And since the city core is built on a hill that climbs up from the harbour, that means there are some interesting views if you know where to look. From the deck of this apartment in the South End where we lived last year, just a stone’s throw from the uptown area, we could see fireworks and the upper decks of cruise ships at high tide. We could see sunsets and steeples. And on a clear night we could see stars. In fact, you can see stars from almost everywhere in the city. All you have to do is look up.
Taken on May 2, 2009