In one way or another, all churches are under construction–or at least should be! St. Andrew’s-Wesley is physically under construction and its sanctuary is closed for a major, 2 year renovation. During this time, its three Sunday services are held at a neighbouring hotel, Baptist church and Anglican church. Yes, the building closure is having a somewhat negative effect on attendance–buildings do matter!–but the congregation is thriving none-the-less.
Factors helping them thrive include out-standing preaching from former moderator Gary Paterson and Lead Minister Dan Chambers, extensive adult faith formation programs and diverse music. Music Director Darryl Nixon disbanded the choir in order to form a number of professional vocal ensembles, instrumental groups and congregational choirs that would sing a few times a year. Why? So that the music would be diverse and could better match the evolving themes of worship and mission of the church.
Also key is the camaraderie amongst staff and lay leaders. Lead Minister Dan Chambers noted that there is no sense of territory or ego-investment, which can lead to pettiness and smallness. Instead, they connect well and collaborate according to the needs of the church.
Lastly, they are a risk-taking, permission-giving church that has established a quick process of assessment and support for individuals who bring forward ideas for mission projects.
Next Sunday will be our last church and last post in this blog. We will be visiting St. George’s United Church in Comox on Vancouver Island. http://www.stgeorgesunited.com