In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Haunted' church ravaged by ghost hunters

CBC News

A 190 -year-old church in Quebec has become the target of ghost hunters amid rumours the building is haunted.

The 19th century St. John's Anglican Church in Gore, Que., has been plagued by unwelcome visitors of late, and both the church's warden and the Anglican diocese are considering abandoning it.Some of those breaking in are simply vandals, but others are doing more than just mischief. Spectre-seeking late-night crowds have begun congregating in the church after rumours it was haunted started to spread online.

Rumours were started on chat sites that at one time the church's congregation committed mass suicide. Although the stories had no basis in fact, they soon had supernatural thrill seekers and ghost hunters breaking in to the church at night. They've been performing seances on the grounds, trying to conjure up the spirits of the dead.

In the process, the ghost hunters are despoiling one of the few remnants of the 19th-century village of Shrewsbury, a Scottish and Irish settlement founded in the 1820s. The village, located within the modern-day municipality of Gore, disappeared over the last century because of disease and a lack of fertile soil.Jim Kyle, the church's warden, says almost every week another tombstone is desecrated or another piece of the church defaced.

"It sickens me to know that there are people out there with so little to do with their lives that this is what they take pleasure in," Kyle said.

Kyle's grandmother once played the organ in St. John's, but now it lies in ruins, along with the church's original furniture.

"They think if they do this they'll anger the ghosts, and the ghosts will come out," Kyle said.

The Anglican diocese is preparing to deconsecrate St. John's Church, putting an end to Anglican services there.

"It's sad. It feels in a sense like we got defeated.... We've had to give up after almost 200 years," said super archdeacon Edward Simonton, a rector in Rawdon, Que.

But the community of Gore hasn't lost all hope. The community plans to apply for provincial funding to restore St. John's as a non-denominational church where people can still hold baptisms and weddings.

Gore is about an hour's drive north of Montreal.

The church was built in 1858.


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