12/17/2014 07:04 EST | Updated 02/16/2015 05:59 EST

Union United Church seeks $600K in funding for urgent repairs

The congregation of Union United Church will not be able to return to its century-old building in Little Burgundy in time for Christmas celebrations as planned.

Major repairs are taking longer than expected and Union United is still trying to raise $600,000 to get the bare minimum done as fast as possible.

There's extra pressure to complete the work because their temporary location — Rosedale Queen Mary United Church in NDG — has been sold.  

Members of Union United need to move out of Rosedale by the end of March and they are eager to go.

"It's not 3007 Delisle (Street)… That's just home and we have to go back and we will," said Ingrid Dixon, a member of the gospel choir at Union United Church.

Union United is one of the cornerstone institutions of Montreal's black community, where leaders including the late Nelson Mandela have spoken from the pulpit. 

The congregation has been struggling to raise money for the repairs for three years.

"We relied on events — they're small events, dinners here, concerts here. It hasn't given us the funds we really need and we're just looking at other ways to raise and this is why we're reaching out to the whole North American community and beyond," said Erene Anthony, board chairperson for the church. 

Fundraising campaign

Montreal singer and songwriter Jonathan Emile is helping create a social media fundraising campaign.

Emile's grandparents were married at Union United in the 1940s and he wants to use Twitter and Facebook to help attract a younger generation toward Union United Church.

"You can go there not only for guidance spiritually but academically, socially. You can go there to meet your peers within the community and… it really is a place for congregation. There's social media online but there's actual social and that's a place for young people to go to get involved in music and arts and culture," Emile said.