It’s been more than a year since members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, made the tough decision to sell the site they’d occupied for nearly 60 years.
“There was some reluctance,” Lyn Drake recalled of the fall 2010 move to offer the 1174 Fir St. property to the City of White Rock. “And, of course, change is also challenging.
“But we’re really pleased with this little place. We were looking for cosy and we got it.”
Standing in the lobby of the new and decidedly smaller Christian Science Spiritual Resource Centre, at 15242 Russell Ave., Drake is surrounded by the smell of freshly laid carpet and warmth emanating from a nearby gas fireplace.
Various books line a series of shelves, near a trio of easy chairs arranged by the fireplace.
“We just wanted to make a place that was inviting.”
Behind Drake stretches a central room for church services, complete with chairs and an organ; and beyond that, a third room for Sunday school, executive board meetings and other get-togethers.
All together, the space is less than a third of the approximately 3,500 square feet that the congregation had at the Fir Street location. Any doubt that it may have been the wrong move, however, is long gone.
Finding a way to meet the needs of the community in a more welcoming manner was one of the goals of the church membership when the decision to sell was made, Drake said. The previous location, next to White Rock’s RCMP detachment, had made the church “too reclusive,” she said.
On Russell Avenue, within days of holding their first Sunday service Jan. 29, a change was seen.
“We’ve had more conversations with the public than we ever imagined,” writes Gina McMurchy-Barber in a statement celebrating the new home.
“Simply put, the public seems to find this version of our church approachable, accessible and more readily able to provide them with spiritual ideas and resources they’re looking for.”
Christian Science, based on the Bible, encourages people to see and resolve things through prayer. Followers believe in one all-loving God, and that Jesus’s teachings and healing work were based on scientific laws.
Drake, a South Surrey resident, was raised in Christian Science, and credits it to “many” healing experiences she has seen and felt in her life.
She emphasized the resource centre is not restricted to Christian Science followers.
“Anyone and everyone” is welcome, she said. “We’re not into proselytizing or converting. We really want people to know that this is for the community.
“Doesn’t matter what your religion is or what your beliefs are. If you’re looking for a quiet place to read, and pray, this might be the spot for you.”
The centre is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturdays. Sunday services are held at 10 a.m.; there are also meetings Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
For information, call 604-536-9511 or email email@example.com
Old site, new plans
Exactly what the future holds for the church’s former site has not been decided. The city paid $1.6 million for it, a move that completed its ownership of the entire block where its city hall, police and fire departments sit; after leasing it back to the church for just over a year, they took full possession this month.
The intention is to add the property to “the civic precinct,” acting city manager Dennis Back said Friday.
In the short term, using the building for office and other space is among possibilities being considered, Back said.
“The church building is ideally located to meet some of those needs,” Back said.
“We have had some preliminary discussions around the possibilities, but it would be premature to say what they are.
“This is something that will get some attention in the near future, including discussion with council.”