KELOWNA - Members of St. Paul’s United Church say they have found a novel new way to both upgrade their image for the twenty-first century as well as serve their community better in the years to come.
“We are quite an elderly congregation,” says St. Paul's Minister Richard Chung. “So for them to let go of a building they have cherished for more than 50 years requires a great deal of sacrifice. They understand that some of these changes will benefit them, but they’re really doing this for the next generation.”
Initial plans for The Sanctuary, a four-storey, mixed-use building on the site of St. Paul’s United Church on Lakeshore includes an Arts and Worship auditorium, as well as commercial and residential spaces. It went before council for first reading Monday and a public hearing is set for Dec. 3.
The reading received unanimous support from Council and Chung says that feedback from the community has also been almost entirely positive.
“It’s quite encouraging so far,” Chung says. “I think people are seeing that we’re trying to utilize our church property to build something that is beneficial not only to our members but to our whole community.”
Chung says that the idea for the ambitious project came not from a single person, but from the entire congregation over a seven year period and represents a major sacrifice for many of his members.
“Everything you do outside the box involves a great deal of risk,” says Chung. “But the face of the church needs to change for the 21st century.”
“Without taking some risks things just aren’t going to improve.”
Council has recently called for increased urban development in the busy south Pandosy area and Chung says that their complex fits nicely within that mandate.
“We’d like (The Sanctuary) to become a hub,” Chung says. “Almost like a smaller version of the Rotary Centre for the Arts.”
Although not yet finalized, Chung estimates that the cost for the proposed development will be around $20M and would take years to complete.
The money will come from pre-sale of condos and future rentals of the facility, just like with any large-scale development, but Chung stresses that their focus is on community building and not profit building. He wants to assure people that any revenues generated will go back to serving the community as much as possible.
“The church has always been a spiritual centre but it’s also a social enterprise,” he says. “We don’t like to talk about money in the church but it’s a reality. Churches need to rethink how they deliver their message and their mission to the community and this is just a different way of doing that.”
Updated sketches and designs will be available for public viewing on Wedneday, Nov. 27 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church (3131 Lakeshore Road).
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Image Credit: Contributed