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Following is an abridged version of a document entitled "Addendum to WHUC Feasibility Study." 


For a number of years Wilson Heights United Church has been extending Christian hospitality through Community Ministry. Surveys of our sector of the city indicate that the three greatest needs continue to be poverty, hunger and loneliness; we respond by housing an Advocacy program, a food ministry and a strong emphasis on Sunday worship.

It was clear through those who came to our Community meals and those who spoke to our Advocate, that the need for social housing was also paramount. Our church structure is an older building with inadequate rooms to house Community Ministry and awkward mobility access to the sanctuary for baby carriages, walkers and so forth. These tensions of abundance and inadequacy led to discussions within the congregation about the use of the facility and our way of doing church in southeast Vancouver.  

Since 2005 we have been in conversation regarding providing social housing, a flexible worship space and rooms to facilitate the community at large including the growing Advocacy Program. This involved numerous meetings to determine the needs of the community and the congregation. At various times throughout the process, meetings included architects and individuals involved in social housing. Questionnaires were also provided so church members could express their opinions in depth and in confidence.

During the last two years we discussed a number of concepts that appeared to meet our needs. This involved obtaining price estimates from an engineering group and the finalized conceptual drawings. It became evident very quickly however that the project with its height zoning limitations would not be sustainable.

The Development Committee struggled with what appeared to be the end of our dreams. After much reflection, the committee concluded that it had an obligation to Wilson Heights to discontinue the Redevelopment option at this time.

It appears at first glance that the Spirit has closed a door for us. We have asked ourselves - even if someone donated ten million dollars would we pursue the dream of a new church on our site? On reflection, probably not. We have reached an optimistic turning point and think we are being led to do church differently. Wilson Heights has an active leadership group with considerable levels of skill and experience at various levels in our community.

We would be prepared to take an active role along with Presbytery in furthering a vision. Considering the geographical location of various properties held by the United Church congregations, the assets are considerable and the possibilities promising.

Although the outcome of our feasibility study was not what we anticipated or dreamed of, it has provided us with food for thought as to the working of the Spirit. We are not alone and our forsaken dream has provided us with the ability to dream a new dream that should involve the wider church beyond the four walls of Wilson Heights United Church.

 

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