Archdeacon Brian Evans in the new church hall at St. Paul's Anglican.

Archdeacon Brian Evans in the new church hall at St. Paul's Anglican.

Historic Nanaimo church sets cornerstone for new era

NANAIMO - St. Paul's Anglican completes renovations and celebrates new role in the community.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church in downtown Nanaimo will celebrates completion of renovations and a new role in the community with a cornerstone laying ceremony.

Construction on the new $3.5-million Centre for Ministry and Community Outreach is done and church staff are moving into new work and worship spaces.

The 930-square metre addition is part of the church congregation’s effort to take St. Paul’s in a new direction, from being a “maintenance” church that primarily serves the needs of its members to a “missional” church that looks beyond itself toward the needs of the community.

On Tuesday, staff were getting set up in the new facility, which replaces the old church hall on Chapel Street with a modern multilevel structure that includes a new hall, industrial grade stainless steel kitchen, an elevator, offices and several meeting rooms named for the stained glass windows depicting apostles on the west side of the church.

“The four rooms are Matthew, Mark, Like and John, like the window on this side of the church,” said Archdeacon Brian Evans. “The architect’s idea was to duplicate the theme.”

Windows carry an architectural theme throughout the structure by allowing lots of illumination throughout the building interior, but also sight lines through the building from street level and surrounding commercial offices and residences.

“Our theme was to be open to the community. … The whole idea here is, when you come in, you get a sense of openness,” Evans said. “So, whether, you come in from the handicap entrance or through the front door of the church, the idea was to create a welcoming atmosphere.”

Construction for the centre, which is primarily concrete, started June 15 and finished in August. Now staff are working out how best to set up furniture and equipment to live and work comfortably in the new digs.

“We removed the old building, we had to take out some rock at this end, and then started from the ground up,” Evans said. “Now we’re going through the challenges of how do you best use the space? You envision it, but then when you move in things don’t necessarily go the way you think they’re going to go.”

The centre’s first outreach mission is to invite everyone to its dedication and cornerstone laying ceremony Sunday (Sept. 18) at 2 p.m. Special guests will include federal, provincial and municipal governments, Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Anglican Diocese of B.C.