Kingsbridge is a hamlet in Southwestern Ontario and is surrounded by farms and seasonal cottages. There are no other public buildings in this area. When the former St. Joseph’s Church closed in 2012, it left a vibrant rural community isolated. There was no venue for public gatherings, service group meetings, rural education or rental options.
St. Joseph’s Kingsbridge Community (SJKC) was formed with a goal to preserve an historic building, while re-establishing a common meeting place for generations to come. In 2012, community members formed the not-for-profit SJKC and by June of 2015, SJKC had obtained charitable status, and full ownership of the building. Privately funded repairs to the former church – now renamed the Kingsbridge Centre – allowed for the opening of the upstairs of the building on August 22, 2015.
The Kingsbridge Centre is now a multi-use facility run entirely by volunteers. The upstairs of the building is used by the community for rentals, a concert series, community gatherings (card parties, ecumenical prayer services, community BBQs, seasonal events), and as a gallery for local artists. SJKC volunteers are renovating the basement as funds permit as a learning centre for community enrichment (computer training for seniors, parenting classes, etc.), rural education and summer programs for youth.
SJKC’s business plan has the cultural activities in the upstairs of the building generating the income to provide the operating costs of the building; this provides an affordable facility for seniors, youth, and community use.