By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Soon the Taber Assisting Nations through Global Outreach (TANGO) will be moving into the Taber Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 5314 54th Street as it is being donated to them. A ceremony will happen on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. to officially hand off the church to TANGO who planned to lend it out to the Society for Taber Arts and Recreation (STAR) when it is not in use by TANGO. Taber Stake President Mark Baldry was able to provide more insight into why this exchange was occurring between LDS and TANGO.
“Our numbers are not getting fewer, but the way we get together and worship has changed over time,” said Baldry. “It’s a very old building that has been renovated numerous times, and it was going to require some significant upgrades to the heating system in particular. It was determined that those would not be done, and so we were looking to mothball the building (preserving a building long-term while it is not occupied). When we got to that point, some of the local community groups, in particular Dr. (Ryan) Torrie and some of the organizations he associated with, asked if the church could consider selling or donating the building to these community groups. We went down that road, looked at some of the upsides and downsides, and the long and short of it is the church felt strongly to leave the building standing — as did our local leadership. We didn’t want it taken down and sold, but rather we wanted it to be a continued blessing to our community.”
With it being a building that has been in the community for over 100 years, the LDS wish to preserve its legacy in the community. With this in mind, Baldry mentioned a concern that came up in their discussion to donate it.
“A couple of groups put their heads together and determined how they could revamp the building into something that would be a blessing to our community and we presented it to the church,” said Baldry. “The church was very keen on that idea, but they wanted to make sure the group had an appropriate plan for the church and it wouldn’t go into somebody else’s name and then become an eyesore to the community. The groups presented their visions for the changed use of the building. Over time it was determined that it would work and the church would be happy to give this building. Those that are going to be using it have come up with what they feel are affordable solutions to the heating and cooling systems in the building — that needs to be renovated — and it became obvious this would be a win-win for everybody.”
As a key member of both organizations who will be utilizing the building after its donation, Ryan Torrie, president of TANGO and STAR, shared his excitement about this donation and spoke on the challenges they have faced when trying acquire a building for the arts in Taber.
“We’re super excited,” said Torrie. “We’ve worked with the Town for years. The arts community in Taber for the last 20 years has been trying to get a permanent home for Taber Players and a venue for musical performances, choir, a place to practice (and have) lessons for music teachers, and having a facility where they can carry on their activities. Around 10 years ago, I was on the advisory committee with the Town of Taber trying to find a way to get a musical facility or an art facility built and just kind of struggled to find a facility. We were trying to get some federal government grants, which we were not able to get, and then we looked at other buildings around town, so it’s been quite a struggle. Then just in the last couple of years, we found out the church was decommissioning that building and was looking to donate it to an arts group to be a community facility.”
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