A banner hung outside our church last year that read “Como Lake celebrates 92 years of ministry”. An active, involved ministry, constructing 4 buildings and a community within a community are all part of that history.
The following is a window view of Two of those years.
How did we get Here?
In the spring of 2014 our Session sent out an invitation to the Official Board, Key leaders and the congregation to attend an off-site “Day of Discernment” facilitated by Tim Scorer. One of the catch phrases was “conversations in a healthy congregation need to be about a vital and transformed future that looks very different from old and unworkable forms”.
While Session was working on resources that would respond to congregational vision, Stewards were keeping an eye on a structural flaw in our 1986 building, acknowledging our vibrant but aging volunteer base and our increasing need to fund ministry with outside income.
Lots of insight came from these 6 facilitated Days of Discernment as a core group of 20-25 leaders discovered what is important to us as a congregation, what grounds us, what simple words speak to the relevance of Jesus in our lives and the quiet strength or deep appreciation for our individuality of spirit were but a few ahahh moments.
How can we live out our current ministry in shared space was a simple question that percolated to the surface as “Is it possible to repurpose our buildings to meet our needs?” and in true United Church fashion a church repurposing team was formed in late 2014 with instructions to do a feasibility study.
They went to BC Conference for guidance and began working with Terry Harrison and the conference PRT. Many meetings lead to the well-attended May 2015 feasibility presentation to our congregation by conference PRT. Our PRT followed up with small group conversations which lead to a June Congregational vote in favour of moving to the Business plan stage to build a rental housing building with dedicated church space, using the land trust model.
We had the land, conference PRT were looking for a non- profit group to become our development or equity partner and thereby give us a more detailed overview.
November 2015 conference PRT came to us with plans for a United Housing Society initiative with BC conference acting on behalf of 3 congregations in the new portfolio to enter into a single loan agreement with BC Housing.
BC Conference was offering to be our non-profit equity partner.
Much of the original feasibility info was the same - except the financial component to our congregation increased dramatically.
At our January 2016 AGM the congregation voted in favour of participating in the redevelopment strategy being led by BC Conference in partnership with BC Housing.
So we have parallel paths happening here. The property redevelopment path and the discernment path. Running side by side and intersecting when necessary.
It is impossible to capture and communicate the experience of Discernment Days and Repurposing meetings but we used numerous communication tools to attempt to keep our membership abreast of what was happening during this 2 year window….Conversation cafés, small group discussion, harvested questions, Sunday snippets, bulletin inserts, newsletter articles, bulletin board displays, casual Tuesday lunch table talk and Sunday coffee conversation with our CLRT people. Being in conversation seems to be the most productive process.
Why are we doing this? New reasons have emerged over time.
· Sustainability of people and resources
· Vision for a renewed congregation
· Housing that fills a community need
· To leave a legacy of faith and vision and church space
· To pioneer a new initiative
· To benefit the wider church
· To connect in community and answer God’s call
It has been an enlightening 2 years for some and frightening for others but we will continue to intentionally discern about our congregation, our place in the wider community and what plans God has for us.