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New church rises where old one once stood

Standing in the sanctuary of the new Canaan Congregational Church are congregation members (l to r) Martha Lagerwall, Jay Aronson, Brian Clark, Rev. Charles Close, Tom Platten. Photo by Peter Flierl

CANAAN—A fire on November 6, 2017 destroyed the 190-year-old brick Canaan Congregational Church, despite the response mounted by 10 local fire companies. Two years later, after much hard work and planning, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new church will begin to hold services for congregants and friends starting Sunday, December 15 at 10 a.m.

During a visit after Sunday services held at the Canaan Fire Station, the pastor, Rev. Charles Close, and congregants led a tour of the new church. Stepping into the sanctuary where worship services will be held, the view is crisp, elegant, soothing. The window, which would be behind an altar traditionally, brings in nature.

Ann Vivian, a principal in the architectural firm of Guillot Vivian Viehmann (GVV) in Burlington, VT, was the designer. She specializes in churches and faith based structures. She is a graduate of the Andover Newton Seminary, now associated with Yale, where she studied sacred arts. She is active in the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture and a member of the Fellowship of Architects of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

Construction was overseen by Tim Schroder of Enginuity Engineering & Design, PLLC of Chatham. The new church is energy efficient, low maintenance and fully handicapped accessible, with space for worship services and socializing. According to Pastor Close, there are door handles and a desk made from the wood of the old pews. One congregant said this was like stepping out, sticking their necks out, like John the Baptist.

In addition to regular Sunday morning services at 10 a.m. Canaan Congregational Church will hold its first Christmas Eve service in the restored church December 24 at 5 p.m. The celebration will have familiar Christmas readings, traditional carols, and special music by the choir. A UCC open congregation, Canaan Congregational Church is located at the corner of state Routes295 and County Route 5 in Canaan.

For more information call 518 781-4775, email, or visit

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