By REV. KAREN DALE
Looking from the outside at the walls and often closed doors of a church, it might seem a bit of a mystery as to what happens inside, beyond the Sunday morning worship.
Even if the doors are unlocked and there are friendly people waiting with a smile; it is unlikely that most folk would wander in out of curiosity.
Beach United Church was very fortunate to be able to renovate the building at 140 Wineva Ave., a few years back.
Perhaps the biggest difference you can see from the outside is all the glass. The doors are made of glass, there are many windows at street level – so much so that sometimes when I’m working in the office it feels like a fish bowl!
Upstairs the beautifully arched window frames from the original design, are now filled with clear glass.
At night it looks quite spectacular and I often see people walking past looking up to see what is happening.
Sometimes people do walk in and want to look around and ask questions about what goes on. This is just what we hoped would happen.
As part of the renovation, half of the original building was demolished.
The sandy soil was once more revealed and the congregation had many meetings about how this land might best be used.
It was decided to explore if we could build affordable housing units.
This resulted in talks with Habitat for Humanity and rough plans for six town-homes were drawn up.
Unfortunately to finance this build, five of the units would have to be sold at market value with only one available for a low income family.
So it was decided to develop the land as a parking lot and use some of the revenue to support organisations whose focus is housing and homelessness, such as Fred Victor.
We have been doing this for four years; despite the fact that our parking lot has only just been completed.
The parking lot will generate much needed income and will be operated by “Green P”, with the majority of the income coming to the church.
To support our focus on environmental sustainability, this lot is unique.
The surface is 100 per cent permeable to reduce run-off and it sheds ice and snow when the sun shines, without salt.
The rubber paver blocks are made from over 7,000 recycled tires.
The plastic grid, which holds the blocks in place are made from over 600,000 recycled plastic bags.
When car use declines in the future, our lot can easily be used for something quite different.
We believe that there is a presence beyond our knowing, that is active in the world; birthing, evolving, loving.
We know humankind must change and “touch the earth lightly” once again.
Here at Beach United Church we try and show what we believe; both inside and out!