It takes an incredible group of people to keep perspective and not toss in the towel.

The folks at Central United Church (all 250 of them) have had one of those years... you know, the kind when you're really glad to see New Year's Day and put it all behind you. 2011 was one of those years of lows and woes, mostly due to water, sewer, and plumbing, which needed lots of towels!

Now, this is a congregation that determinedly paid off its $60,000 mortgage in 1982. Since then, it's been able to do even greater things without that monthly debt. The list of what happens for the community at large from the inside walls at Central is long... food bank, serving meals and providing sleeping space for Out of the Cold; grocery assistance program, Youth Haven, Samaritan House, Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Camp Simpresca, Camp Big Canoe, David Busby Street Centre, Elizabeth Fry, Alzheimer Society, Women & Children's Shelter, Children's Aid Society and on and on.  Rooms at Central provide invaluable meeting space for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and their affiliated programs.

So, you see, if congregation members decided this was all too much, it would have a huge impact on the community.

Last February the church suffered a sewer backup, which began at the municipal street level and worked its way into the church's lower levels. Damage? $150,000. And after the sewer lines were repaired, the rebuilding of church entry and landscaping was another big bill. And then, last summer (2011, year of the water for Central) basement flooding turned up outside water line leakage. The repair costs hit hundred-thousands.

Today, the families at Central and those on the operating board have committed to a new mortgage on their building... $297,000. That's an enormous amount for an organization so committed to so many activities within its walls.

There's a bright light here.  Because Central Church is also a venue for Barrie Concerts Association, Georgian Music Series, Colours of Music etc, the church was thrilled to receive a hand-crafter, nine-foot Shigeru piano, manufactured in Japan by Kawai. With only four of these instruments in Canada, Central can count itself fortunate to be one of two Barrie locations offering incredible music on a $180,000 piano. While concert series devotees will reap the benefits, area pianists are doubly excited.  Nena LaMarre, church pianist, is almost in heaven with her fingers on the keyboard of this instrument.

The piano was donated by the Stollar family with the stipulation that monthly concerts be offered free to area seniors. And that is now in process. Second Wednesday of every month at 2:30 pm any senior is welcome to attend and hear incredible tone from this unique gift.

And you, the public, can play a major role in making 2012 the Mop Up year for Central Church. February 11, Saturday, 7:30 to 9:30 many entertainers are offering their time for a fundraising concert called, appropriately, "All You Need is Love... and Plumbing!" Joy Thompson is organizing the lineup and is grateful to King Edward Choir, Bravado, Pianist Marilyn Reesor, Flautist Carol Hardy, the bell ringing Joy Bells, Pianist Nena LaMarre, Singers Catherine Robertson (and Joy herself) and recording artist Steve Major for contributing to the evening's entertainment.

At $25 a ticket (at the door) and $20 in advance, this isn't going to put a dent in the new mortgage. But it is going to showcase a remarkable music instrument, and let the folks at Central Church know that their community work matters.

Tickets are available during the day at the church office (Toronto and Ross streets) or by calling 705 728-7589.

What a great effort to pick up and carry on.  Good on you, Central Church members.

And, thank you!

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