Forum participants, experts will discuss creative uses of church property

Next week church representatives from around Metro Vancouver – and some from across the nation – will discuss and evaluate stories about creative use and development of church lands. 

Reimagining Church Land & Community will take place the evening of March 12 and during the day on the 13th at First Vancouver Christian Reformed Church.

Tim Dickau has been working on this gathering for months. Now director of CityGate Vancouver, he was pastor for 30 years of Grandview Church in the Commercial Drive area.

Last month he posted a piece on this site which included these thoughts about the “multiple narratives and emerging questions [which] compel churches and denominations to be proactive (rather than reactive) around changing our approaches to church land and buildings.” These are the narratives:

a. Church closures – close to 4,500 across Canada in the last decade. How might we retain these properties for the common good and for God’s restoring work in the world?

The Co:Here housing project at the corner of 1st and Victoria Drive was developed on what had been Grandview Church’s parking lot.

b. Under-utilized land and buildings, especially in urban centres. How might we better utilize and sustain these places, especially in light of civic pressures to ‘use them or lose our tax-exempt status?’

c. New church start-ups – 3,200 in the last decade – who are looking for meeting spaces and struggling to find suitable church buildings. How do we work across denominations to meet this need given that civic governments are not creating space for new church buildings?

d. The loss of sacred space. How can we retain sacred space when congregations are dwindling?

e. Broken treaties on Indigenous land. How might church lands serve as symbols of land reconciliation?

f. The rapidly expanding housing crisis facing our cities? How might churches contribute to housing solutions through a reimagining of their land and buildings? . . .

Urban geographer David Ley will take part in Reimagining Church, Land and Community.

Dickau and his team have been encouraging at least three groups of people to participate in the upcoming event:

1. Those churches which are already thinking about development.

2. Those denominations and churches with underutilized land or buildings that have never thought about development.

3. Those who are catalysts within your denomination who, when resourced and equipped by this gathering, will help carry the conversation forward with your churches.

Following several stories about creative property utilization or development will be a panel of key stakeholders, including Lisa Helps (BC Builds), Christine Boyle (Vancouver City Councilor), Nicholas Lai (long-time Surrey City planner) David Ley (Urban Geographer), and Michael Guenter (Vice President of Development at Concert Properties).

Go here for Dickau’s full comment.

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