Around Town: Coastal & Knox, Sanctuary & Vatican, Christian Racial Reconciliation

Knox Presbyterian Church, built in 1891, has been sold to Coastal Church.  Photo: Peter Chattaway

Great news in New Westminster. A heritage church has been preserved – as a church.

A February 3 article in The New Westminster Times reflects my fears, and relief, regarding the fate of the church:

After some concern in the community that Knox Presbyterian Church at Sherbrook and East Columbia in New Westminster’s Sapperton neighbourhood (for sale for some time) might fall victim to development pressures, Vancouver’s Coastal Church has confirmed that they recently entered into an agreement to purchase the 1891 building and plan to use the facility as a church.

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to become a part of the New Westminster community,” said Coastal Church Senior Pastor David K. Koop. “We truly hope to faithfully serve the people of a great City with such rich diversity and history.”

A statement on the Coastal Instagram page said:

For over 15 years we have prayerfully considered a Coastal Church campus in New Westminster. It’s with great joy that we share the news of our most recent purchase of a heritage church building located within the growing Sapperton community.

This beautiful building is perfectly positioned as a place for our church to come together and worship. We are excited to GO! and serve this community, sharing the love of Christ as we work together to HELP make the city a better place.

This ‘New Westminster Neighbourhoods Historical Context Statements: McBride-Sapperton’ page features Knox Presbyterian Church.

Coastal Church doesn’t have the history of Knox, but it’s already developed an impressive legacy of its own. Supported by Victory Christian Centre, a small group planted the church in Vancouver’s downtown core in 1994. I can remember talking with David by phone as he prayer walked the West End looking for a suitable home for the church.

After meeting at the Landmark Hotel on Robson Street for several years, the church had the opportunity to purchase a heritage building owned by the First Church of Christ Scientist on Georgia Street between Bute and Thurlow in 2001. It is now their home base; go here for more of the story.

There are now several more Coastal campuses, including Yaletown, Commercial Drive ( with Spanish services), North Vancouver, Burnaby, Pitt Meadows, Richmond and Squamish. They also oversee Eden Cafe on Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside.

David Koop is Senior Pastor of Coastal Church.

Back in 2015 I posted an article by Frank Stirk which included this conversation with David Koop about preserving church buildings:

“What message do we send to our community when we keep closing churches?” asks David Koop, Coastal’s senior pastor. “When you lose that vibrant church community, you’re sending a message. There’s a theology around a building. It speaks 24/7 that there’s life, a presence of people and community there.”

Koop says while he believes Christians should be gathering to worship in all kinds of places, the fact is these buildings still send a strong cultural message to non-Christians.

“When you invite somebody to church, they still think that you’re going to a building, it’s got to have pews, and you should be there Sunday at 11 o’clock,” he says. “So when these buildings disappear, then it’s like, ‘Christianity is on its way out.’

But if we’re taking these old buildings and breathing new life into them, then it’s, ‘The church is strong and healthy.’ It becomes more attractive to the unreached.”

Koop says there’s something non-Christians especially seem to like about coming to an older building such as Coastal’s. “They like the fact that ours is a heritage building. They like the fact that we kept the pipe-organ. We rarely use it but they like it. They like the pews. They like the mix of the old and the new,” he says.

From the Trinity Presbyterian Church Facebook page, illustrating many years of amusing signs.

Comments responding to Coastal’s Instagram post about Knox support his views. One person said:

I’ve never been to this church before, but I pass by it frequently and always got a chuckle from their signs. Last night, I drove by it while returning from vacation yesterday and let out an audible “NO!” when I saw the “for sale” and “sold” signs, thinking it was going to become a new condo or something. I am so relieved and surprised it was coastal church that bought the building!

Also good news is that Knox will carry on, though now as part of Trinity Presbyterian Church of New Westminster, which amalgamated three Presbyterian churches last January – Knox, Gordon and St. Aiden’s.

A February 10 Facebook post stated, “A sad day, finishing a chapter of our Knox church but turning a page to brighter days for Trinity as we hold our services at the St. Aiden’s site.”

I have noticed that West Point Grey Presbyterian Church is also for sale. Having had many high school friends who attended there, and having gone to Scouts (but not church) in their basement, I am now devoutly hoping they will also sell to a church and not developers. I know from personal experience how badly the West side needs more churches!

Sanctuary at the Vatican

Sanctuary’s Bryana Russell was part of the Vatican conference.

A recent Vatican News story began: “Catholic mental health ministers from all over the world gathered in the Dicastery for Communication for the first-ever Vatican workshop dedicated to mental health and pastoral care.”

Among the presenters were Deacon Ed Schoener, founder of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, Monsignor Anthony Ekpo, Undersecretary at the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Sr Isabel Cantón of the Sisters Hospitallers and others from around the globe.

One participant represented Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, which is based in Vancouver, but has an increasingly significant international presence. The initiative has always involved Christians from many denominations, and has developed a Sanctuary Course particularly for Catholics.

The article focused on several programs; here is the portion related to Sanctuary:

Turning churches into mental health sanctuaries

Also present at the meeting was Bryana Russell of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, an organisation that provides resources on faith and mental health.

In an interview with Vatican News, Ms Russell discussed the organisation’s Sanctuary Course, a study guide designed to raise awareness and start conversations about mental health in local churches.

She said she had recently met a woman who, during her stay in a psychiatric ward, had received two visitors a day from her local parish, members of which had recently completed the Sanctuary Course [while others in the ward were not receiving any visitors].

As a result, Ms Russell said, “she was able to feel God’s presence, even in that moment of suffering and pain.”

Russell is part of Sanctuary’s leadership team. She wrote an article about Sanctuary Songs, featuring Matt Maher and Friends, for The Light Magazine last fall.

Along with the Flourishing Congregations Institute, Sanctuary is conducting a Mental Health and Illness in Canadian Congregations Survey, until mid-March, “inviting Christian congregants and leaders across Canada to share insights in our 10 to 15 minute online survey.”

Laing Lectures: George Yancey

Dr. George Yancey is Regent College’s guest for the Laing Lectures.

Regent College’s annual Laing Lectures will have Dr. George Yancey address the topic of Christian Racial Reconciliation over three evenings next week (March 5 – 7).

Yancey is a Professor of Sociology at Baylor University and the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. He has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics, including institutional racial diversity, racial identity, atheists, cultural progressives, academic bias and anti-Christian hostility.

His books include Beyond Racial Division: A Unifying Alternative to Colorblindness and Antiracism (IVP, 2022), So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States? (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) and Transcending Racial Barriers: Toward a Mutual Obligations Approach (Oxford University Press, 2011; with Michael Emerson).

Here is the schedule:

  • Lecture 1 – Institutional Racism Past and Present
    Tuesday, March 5, 7:30 pm

In this lecture, Dr. Yancey will discuss why historical and institutional racism continues to impact people of colour today. While overt racism has dramatically decreased in recent decades, racial minorities continue to suffer the long-term effects of racism. Understanding the context of historical and institutional racism is vital for an understanding of the current plight of racial minorities.

  • Lunchtime Interview and Q&A
    Wednesday, March 6, 12:30 pm

Join us in Room 100 at Regent College for this onsite-only event, moderated by Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Jessamin Birdsall.

  • Lecture 2 – Why the Current Solutions Aren’t Enough
    Wednesday, March 6, 7:30 pm

Despite the continuing racial alienation in our society, we have struggled to find workable solutions. Faced as we are with the ongoing impact of institutional racism, a colourblind perspective is not useable. But Dr. Yancey will argue that antiracism, a popular alternative linked to identity politics, has not proven to be useful either. This lecture will address problems connected with antiracism and identity politics.

  • Lecture 3 – Theology and Sociology of Conversation
    Thursday, March 7, 7:30 pm

In his final lecture, Dr. Yancey will present the idea that collaborative conversations offer a better approach to addressing racial alienation. Demonstrating that this approach has both empirical backing and scriptural support, Dr. Yancey will conclude by arguing that, of all the available options for addressing the ongoing problem of racism, collaborative conversation is best aligned with the basic tenets of Christianity.

Previous Laing Lecturers include Charles Taylor, Miroslav Volf, Stanley Hauerwas, Marilynne Robinson and Malcolm Guite,

Feb 2024

CHILD-ish – February 29, 2024 - March 9, 2024 at All Day
The Chosen: Season 4 – February 29, 2024 - March 10, 2024 at 12:00 am
Business as Mission Leadership Lunch – February 29, 2024 at 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Vulnerable & Fierce Fundraising Dinner – February 29, 2024 at 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Papal Visit 2022: The Catholic Church and the Four Steps of Reconciliation – February 29, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Paul Nedelisky: Can Science Show Us the Good? – February 29, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Speed Dating: Christian Singles (Ages 27-47) – February 29, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
All of Life Interview with Dr. Arnold Sikkema – February 29, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Mar 2024

Apologetics Canada Conference 2024: Can I Trust the Bible? – March 1, 2024 - March 2, 2024 at All Day
Business As Mission Vancouver Conference 2024 – March 1, 2024 at 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
March Art & Prayer Retreat – March 1, 2024 at 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Black History Month Closing Celebration Concert – March 1, 2024 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
G. Peter Kaye Lectures: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa: The Listening Society: Religion, Music & Democracy in Resonance (2 events) – March 1, 2024 - March 2, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Re-imaging the Church Choir – March 2, 2024 at 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Books & Bistro – March 2, 2024 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Spring Small Business Fair – March 2, 2024 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Trace Bundy's Acoustic Spring – March 2, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley with The Ruby Lane Organ Trio – March 3, 2024 at 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
The Laing Lectures: George Yancey – Christian Racial Reconciliation – March 5, 2024 - March 7, 2024 at 12:00 am
Kentro Webinar: Applying Violence and Harassment Legislation in a Practical Way? – March 5, 2024 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Imagination Retreat – March 6, 2024 at 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Kairos BC-Yukon Spring Conversation Toolkit Launch – March 6, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Shruti Ramani & Friends – March 6, 2024 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Black History Month: Ghislain Brown-Kossi’s new exhibition UMOJABLACK – March 7, 2024 - March 26, 2024 at 12:00 am
MCC Vulnerable & Fierce Fundraising Dinner – March 7, 2024 at 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
March Art & Prayer Retreat – March 8, 2024 at 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Understanding Abuse Training – March 8, 2024 - March 10, 2024 at 1:00 pm - 12:30 pm
A Music Night with Jon Bryant: Fundraiser for Jacob's Well – March 8, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Canadian L'Abri Lecture Series (Friday evenings) – March 8, 2024 - March 22, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
North Lonsdale United Church: Worship Concert Fundraiser – March 8, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
ReFrame Dance Production – March 8, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Root Dwellers x WIRTH Present: Jordan Klassen, Zaac Pick, Cassidy Waring – March 8, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Business As Mission Breakfast – March 9, 2024 at 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Co-creating Plausible Futures for the Canadian Church – March 9, 2024 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Abendmusik Vesper Choir: Lent 2024 Vespers – March 10, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
My Little Plastic Jesus – March 10, 2024 - March 15, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Lisa Sung: The Doctrine of the Trinity: Eliciting Insights for Life and Ministry – March 11, 2024 at 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm
Colonialism, Reconciliation and the First Nations Bible – March 11, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – March 12, 2024 - March 23, 2024 at All Day
Church Redevelopment and Reconciliation: An Indigenous and Settler Perspective – March 12, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Philippians with George Guthrie: Lecture & Book Launch – March 12, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Reimagining Church, Land & Community – March 12, 2024 - March 13, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: The Benders & Friends – March 13, 2024 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Kentro Webinar: Anti-Racism From a Jesus-Centred Perspective Part 1 – Terminology 101 – March 14, 2024 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Brandon Lake: Tear the Roof Off Tour – March 14, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Speed Dating: Christian Singles (Ages 34-55) – March 14, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Opening to Compassion Ignatian Retreat – March 15, 2024 - March 17, 2024 at All Day
River Spring Conference (with Marc Dupont) – March 15, 2024 - March 17, 2024 at All Day
Climate change, eco-dread & Christian wisdom: a crisis in search of a hope-filled perspective – March 16, 2024 at 8:30 am - 12:30 pm
Bible Saturday: Darrell Johnson – Resting in Jesus's Intercession (John 17) – March 16, 2024 at 9:30 am - 11:45 am
MAID Seminar – March 16, 2024 at 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Neil Osborne – March 16, 2024 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley with Nick Apivor & Friends – March 17, 2024 at 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Say Yes: a Liturgy of Not Giving Up on Yourself – March 17, 2024 - March 18, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Premiere: Blessed is the Spot: The Wounding and Healing of the Garry Oak Ecocultural Landscape – March 18, 2024 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
What is Prayer? – March 20, 2024 at 12:45 pm - 1:45 pm
Dr. Chad Bauman: Anti-Christian Violence in Contemporary India – March 20, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Jillian Lebeck & Friends – March 20, 2024 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Céilidh – March 21, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Planetary Health: Protecting and Sustaining the Well-being of our Ecosystems – March 22, 2024 - March 23, 2024 at All Day
Public Talk & Retreat on Thomas Merton – March 22, 2024 - March 23, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Thomas Merton, Hermann Hesse and the Israel-Palestinian War – March 22, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Miles Black Trio – March 22, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Easteravaganza – March 23, 2024 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Selections from St John Passion, BWV 245 and St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 , Johann Sebastian Bach – March 23, 2024 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Haydn's 7 Last Words of Christ - An Easter Concert – March 24, 2024 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Taizé Contemplative Service – March 24, 2024 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
The 7 Last Words Of Christ – March 24, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Thinking Through the Arts (three events) – March 25, 2024 - March 26, 2024 at All Day
Thinking Through Music & Fashion – March 25, 2024 at 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Town Hall to Discuss Bill S-210 with MP Garnett Genuis, MP Arnold Viersen & Frm – March 25, 2024 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Thinking Through the Arts: Conherence & Wholeness in Music – March 25, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Thinking Through the Visual Arts – March 26, 2024 at 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Bringing Hope To Newcomers & Refugees in Canada – March 26, 2024 at 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Moral Machines: Social Values, Technology & Critical Constructivism – March 26, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Kentro Webinar: Time to Take a Stand – March 27, 2024 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Speed Dating: Christian Singles (Ages 27 - 44) – March 27, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
'Working for Beauty' by Dr. David Henderson – March 27, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Jazz Evensong @ Brentwood: Sam Ellington Quartet – March 27, 2024 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Free Documentary Screening Online: The Story of Euthanasia – March 28, 2024 - March 31, 2024 at All Day
The Craft of Spirit: BC Liturgical Textiles – March 28, 2024 - March 31, 2024 at 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Seven Words, Composed & Performed by Jonathan Saunders – March 28, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Prayer & Fasting Gathering: Loving Muslims Together Network – March 29, 2024 at All Day
Good Friday @ CLA: Churches of Langley (2 services) – March 29, 2024 at 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Good Friday Art Exhibit – March 29, 2024 at 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Bridges: Christians Connecting With Muslims – March 30, 2024 at 7:00 am - 9:00 am
Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage (4 stops in Vancouver) – March 30, 2024 at 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Bach St John Passion – March 30, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Worship Invasion Loves Easter! – March 30, 2024 at 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Jazz Vespers with Marcus Mosely – March 31, 2024 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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