Q & A: 

Will staff be let go in this process?

It is a priority for our new amalgamated church to have positions for all of our current ministry staff. While there may be some overlap and shifting of job descriptions for administrative and contract staff, we will do our best to retain where we can.  Any layoffs will follow BC employment standards for compensation

How will [the congregants] fit in the CBUC sanctuary during construction?

We will likely have different services at different times on Sunday and we wont be trying in either location to combine the congregations into one service.  Both spaces can adequately handle what the average attendance is for either service. 

How will the staff fit into the existing office space at CBUC or St Aidan’s?

Some core staff will continue to have their own offices while some part-time staff will have shared offices.  Some staff need less office space and time due to what their job entails.  Both in the temporary site during renovation and in the permanent site, accommodations will be made to enable staff to do their job with the tools they need. 

Was any consideration given to building a new on one of the three sites?

We are looking to renovate, rather than build from new at the St. Aidan’s site.  Building an entirely new structure would mean more time until we could move in.  It would also mean generating more waste material.  We would prefer to work with what we have as much as we can; while still enabling a new feel for the site. The St Aidan’s building has been well maintained and has some interesting features we want to maintain.  For more information about why this site, please see the site selection document under the “ Amalgamation proposal” tab. 

What will the government structure of our new church look like?

The new government structure is unlikely to be the same as the current government structure at either church.  The Project Management team and the Joint Council together with a consultant that specializes in governance structure,  will create a new governance model that will both enable us to be lead in a new way and fall within the parameters set out by the United Church of Canada.  This final form will then need the approval of the newly amalgamated congregation and the Pacific Mountain Region. 

What will happen to the St Aidan’s Thrift Shop?  

The Thrift Shop will continue, although there will be differences.  A Thrift store board has been appointed to help guide and shape this into a social enterprise that can accommodate the changing landscape of such retail and incorporate some new initiatives.  

What happens to the Arts Calibre school and the Lambrick Park preschool at Gordon Head?

At this time, renters in both properties have been informed of the amalgamation and that the site of St. Aidan’s will be our new home.  As to our plans for the other two properties and the timeline for moving to a completed new site, current renters have been told that we will share information with them as decisions are made.  Both schools have been told that the Gordon Head site will be available to them for the 2020-2021 school year.

What happens to the groups who rent space in our buildings throughout the week?

At this time, renters in all properties have been informed of our plans to amalgamate and to use St. Aidan’s as the site of our new home.  As to our plans for the other two properties and the timeline for moving to a completed new site, current renters have been told that we will share information with them as decisions are made.  A matrix for partnership and rentals has been created and this will help guide our decision making regarding building use, rentals etc in the future configuration. 

What is the current update on Small Group Ministry given the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Just prior to the outbreak in Mid-March, we had our first gathering for our Small Group Facilitators. Currently we have 18 facilitators on board poised to lead 13 groups (Eight themed groups and 5 Basic groups). 92 congregants in total have been matched to a group, while a small percentage of people remain to be matched. Facilitators are now meeting by Zoom, and are contacting their group members to discern if some groups may launch electronically until they can meet in person.  

What happened to our input from the January session about Core Values? 

All of the input was tabulated and correlated and worked in where appropriate to various parts of the strategic plan.  Some of the feedback helped synthesize the Core Values into 3 with subsets.  Some of the feedback became part of the goals for the new congregation.  These are all under the strategic plan tab.

New Church Name

Rationale For The New Amalgamated “Church” Name
Process: After fielding 131 submitted names and explanations, the Naming Committee met virtually to discern from those submitted. Names were tested, searched for associations to other structures with similar names, possible negative connotations, and potential acceptance from a
broad range of people. Ultimately, we were taken with the following and recommend the  name:
Broad View United
“Broad View to me implies openness, inclusivity, diversity, all pillars of our church. ‘Simple’ name. Not intimidating. Inviting. May trigger curiosity. And yes, geographically it sits on raised land.” – quote from a submission email
Here is the rationale and clarification for the name Broad View United:
● Clarity: Simply put, the name has “punch”; all 3 words are clear.
● Clarity: The separate 3 words distinguish the name from the Broadview publication
affiliated with the United Church of Canada; the magazine is a separate entity.
● Verbally: It rolls off the tongue lyrically and yet: BVU is lovely to write. eg emails
● Visually: The words offer a wide range of graphic and logo ideas
● Logistically: The domain is available in all forms as we discovered upon searching
● Logistically: Each word maintains distinct meaning even when compounded:
      ○ Domains: Broadviewunited.ca or .com and “hashtags”: #broadviewunited
● Philosophically: The 2 words both Broad and View are both literal & figurative
     ○ Literal: Members spoke of the view on this site being open and broad
     ○ Figuratively: A broad perspective on others underscoring our compassionate
walk through faith and our acceptance for others as a United Church congregation
● Psychologically: Appeals to a common or united vision: it modifies United as a
stand-alone as it captures our imaginations, defining our open minds as a congregation
 Psychologically: It creates a subtle yet recognizable association with the publication
even though it is spelled differently. This association is positive as it evokes social justice
journeys captured in the magazine. Additionally, we are not treading on any toes by
enjoying this association!
● Definitions & Association:
   ○ Broad adjective: covering a large number and wide scope of subjects or areas.
Similar : Inclusive, extensive, all-embracing, universal, eclectic, unlimited
   ○ View noun: Similar : Sight, perspective, range of vision, vision
Similar : Opinion, point of view, viewpoint, belief●Theologically: the name fits well with a progressive heart set
Spiritually: a broad view of life leads to compassion

The Naming Committee is grateful to the members of both congregations for all the caring and thoughtful responses and for their eager and willing involvement in this impactful process!-
-Kate Reston, Pat Ten Have, Val Bauld, Aziza Moqia, Dave Goosen

Building Re-Design

Seeking input on the building redesign project:

 Hi Folks :

As we move forward toward the day when our two congregations will have their new home together in what is currently the St. Aidan’s campus, our Building Redesign Committee is working to shape the directions that will be taken.   As you might imagine, there will be many things to consider and decisions to be made over time.  Right now, at this very early stage of the committee’s work, we want to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts.  The committee wants to get a general sense of what is important to the congregations both in terms of worship space and other church activities and uses.

We realize that right now, in the midst of a time of social change and self-isolation, some may feel they have extra time to share their ideas and others might feel they want to wait.  We understand this and want you to know that this opportunity to provide input will not be the only avenue that will be used as the space is redesigned.  However,  any thoughts  you can share now will be very useful as the design thinking gets underway.

We invite you to respond to this email with your comments on the questions below.  If you don’t have ideas for all of them that’s fine – please provide whatever information you want.  To submit your thoughts, please reply to this email by April 15th

 Your thoughts on the spaces you are now using:

  • What adjectives would you use to describe your ideal church building? (ie. Light and bright, mysterious, quiet and sacred…)
  • When you think about the space where you worship on Sundays, what stands out as the features that are most important or meaningful to you?  In other words, what are the most positive things about the space?  What is it about these things that make these features important to you?
  • When you think about the spaces where you participate in church related activities other than worship, what stands out as the features that are most important or meaningful to you?  In other words, what are the most positive things about the space?  What is it about these things that make these features important to you?
  • For the worship space and/or the church activity spaces, what challenges or issues have you experienced?  How have these impacted you?

Your thoughts as we move toward our redesigned space:

  • What features are most important to you in the redesigned space that the merged congregations will use for worship and other activities?
  • What attributes might our revisioned church facility need to be able to be of service to the community at large :

Anything else?

  • Do you have any other thoughts you wish to share with the Building Redesign Committee at this time?

Thank you for your input! 

Please send your responses to  buildingreimage@cadbayuc.org

Mark Anthony

Mike Emme

Faye Schmidt

Marilyn Poutanen

Cheryl Black

Mark Green

Summary of Site Requirements for New Church & Recommendation from Joint Council

Further information can be found in the November 2019 St. Aidan’s United Church & Cadboro Bay/Gordon Head United Church Amalgamation Proposal

Summary of site requirements

No single property, in its current configuration, meets all of the needs for our new vision

Purchasing a new site is possible, but not recommended due to the time needed to zone for church activities

Re-imagining and renovating is required to create a space for our neighbourhood to regional church vision to flourish

What do we have?What does our new vision need and Recommendation
All three sites have sufficient worship space.   Building Size: St. A’s 27,600 sqft; CBUC 13,600 sqft; GHUC 11,800 sq ft.  Worship space – for traditional and new styles   Program space for a robust, diverse, all ages program – St. A’s larger site is recommended
All 3 churches are 2 levels:  St. A’s and GHUC have sanctuary and related rooms built over a basement level; both are wheelchair accessible with elevator. CBUC is 2 level built on slab with upstairs rooms accessible only by stairs  Desirable space for partnerships (building and room configuration)   St. A’s internal layout and accessible location is seen as desirable by potential partners therefore we recommend it                
St. A’s has an accredited commercial kitchen. CBUC and GHUC both need kitchen upgrades  An accredited commercial kitchen gives more scope for community involvement as well as an ability to make and serve gatherings around food. Therefore: St. A’s site is recommended  
GHUC: Walk Score (36/100), Transit (41/100) and is somewhat bikeable (44/100). CBUC: Walk Score (41/100), Transit (44/100) with bike scoring not available.  St. A’s: Walk Score (79/100), Transit (56/100) and is very bikeable with a score of 79/100.  These scores are from the 2019 Walk Score website.  Accessible by transit & walking and biking. Based on these Walkability, public transportation and bikeability scores   Again, St. A’s site is recommended based on these scores indicating it is very walkable and bikeable with multiple and frequent public transportation  
CBUC has the most parking stalls, and GHUC has the next number. St. A’s has the least amount of parking stalls, but has additional 26 parking spots within a one block radius and 2 additional public parking lots within a 2 block radius.  Sufficient parking is part of the vision CBUC and GHUC both have larger lots.   We wonder what parking needs will be in 10-20 years as green awareness prevails.    Based on other factors, St. A’s has adequate parking  
All three sites are in the east half of Saanich, and St. Aidan’s location is closest to the centre. GHUC lies within an area where least population change is anticipated. CBUC’s is similar to GHUC, but is within a short distance from a “village” node. St. A’s is near the Shelbourne-Cedar Hill “neighbourhood centre” where more significant change and densification is expected.  Central Location in the region and population density   We recommend the St. A’s location because of increased population density and services already occurring and plans underway in Saanich to increase these
St. Aidan’s is in relatively good condition, with recent infrastructure   updating. CBUC and GHUC require more infrastructure updating.A building with few significant maintenance costs anticipated   We recommend the St. A’s site in this category  
Real Estate Values by professional appraisers show these values: St. A’s $3M as of May 2019; CBUC $2.2M and GHUC $1.8 M both as of Mar, 2016  Preserving a legacy for future generations   Recommend keeping the property with highest appraised value for future generations  
All Properties are zoned in the P1 (Public Assembly) and St. A’s is P1R (Public Assembly Restricted)The restriction is: Bingos, Casinos, and any other activity involving gambling or betting whether carried on for profit or not.  This will not be a limiting factor in the Vision we wish to live  

Recommendation:  After considering the abundance of what we have, and weighing the needs of the future, the Joint Council recommends that the St. Aidan’s site be used as the permanent site for the Neighbourhood to Regional Vision. While the St. Aidan’s site is deconstructed and renovated, the current CBUC site would be used as a temporary site.

A Congregational Q and A Gathering will be held Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 pm at CBUC to discuss the above recommendation around site selection. 

Site Selection Report

Site Selection Report to Joint Councils’ Meeting of Oct. 30th 2019

We recommend that the temporary location for the amalgamated church will be CBUC site

We recommend that the permanent location be the St. Aidan’s Site.

When the time is appropriate the Gordon Head site will be sold.

The criteria for the selection:

  • Location in Saanich
  • Land Use  and Density
  • Public Transportation
  • Walkability
  • Building Condition
  • Building Spaces/Configuration
  • Highest Value Asset
  • Parking
  • Potential off-site Parking
  • Visibility
  • OCP

Location in Saanich

The ideal location for a regional church would be at the most central point in the district (e.g. Saanich City Hall / Uptown Centre vicinity).  All three sites are in the east half of Saanich but St. Aidan’s location (shown with blue banner) is closest to the centre.


Land Use and Density

Both CBUC and GHUC are surrounded by  relatively stable, low density housing and green space.





St. Aidan’s is bordered on its north and east by stable low density housing and green space, on the south by medium density apartments, on the west, in the Shelbourne Valley by redeveloping commercial and institutional land uses.

Building Condition

St. Aidan’s is in relatively good condition, with recent updating e.g. to heating and interior finishes. It’s roof is sound for short term but will need upgrading in mid-term. CBUC and GHUC show the effects of deferred maintenance. (See Asset Management  team reports.)

Building Spaces/Configuration

Both St. Aidan’s and GHUC are 2 levels with sanctuary and related rooms built over a basement level; both are wheelchair accessible. CBUC is one level built on slab. (For detailed comparison of space use and capacities see Asset Management  team report.)


Both GHUC and CBUC benefit by siting on relatively busy collector roads with transit service. CBUC is also on a tourist scenic drive enjoying a relatively high level of landmark status.

St. Aidan’s has 3 street frontages but because all are low traffic, local streets, it has very limited public visibility except from the scenic summit of nearby Mount Tolmie Park.

Official Community Plan 2008

In terms of future land use changes and densification, GHUC lies within an area where least change is anticipated. CBUC’s shares GHUC’s traits for its immediate surroundings but is within a short distance from a “village” node where limited development is anticipated.  St. Aidan’s lies on the eastern edge of the Shelbourne-Cedar Hill “neighbourhood centre” where more significant change and densification is expected.

Plan excerpts:

“Neighbourhood Centres … provide … range of commercial and service options, primarily focused on the needs of the immediate neighbourhood.  A Neighbourhood Centre is typically served by at least two bus routes and includes a range of multiple family housing.

Neighbourhood Centres include: …Cedar Hill (intersection of Shelbourne Street and Cedar Hill Cross Road, including sections of Shelbourne Street).”

Villages are small local nodes, with a historical basis, that meet local residents’ basic commercial and

service needs. They also provide a limited amount of multiple family housing, and are typically serviced

by a single bus route. Villages include: Cadboro Bay…

“Support the following building types and land uses in Major and Neighbourhood “Centres”:

ƒ Townhouse (up to 3 storeys)

ƒ Low-rise residential (up to 4 storeys)

ƒ Mid-rise residential (up to 8 storeys)

ƒ Live/work studios & Office (up to 8 storeys)

ƒ Civic and institutional (generally up to 8 storeys)

ƒ Commercial and Mixed-Use (generally up to 8 storeys)


Support the following building types and uses in “Villages”:

ƒ Small lot single family houses (up to 2 storeys)

ƒ Carriage/coach houses (up to 2 storeys)

ƒ Town houses (up to 3 storeys)

ƒ Low-rise residential (3-4 storeys)

ƒ Mixed-use (commercial/residential) (3-4 storeys)

ƒ Civic and institutional (generally up to 3 storeys)…”

Official Community Plan Map 4 Urban Containment & Villages & Centres

Official Community Plan Map 14 Transit Network


Item4180 Tyndall Ave.2625 Arbutus Rd.3703 St. Aidan’s St.
Walkability36  Car-dependent 41 Car Dependent79 Very Walkable
Transit41 Some Transit, Bus # 27, 28,12 within .2 km44 Some Transit – bus # 11 & 13 within .2 km56 Good Transit  bus # 14, 27, 28 within .2 km
Biking72 Very BikeableNo rating79 Very Bikeable
Parks3 Sierra, Tyndall, & Blair Parks3- Benson, Arbutus, Phyllis Parks3 – Rendle Green, Horner & Mt. Tolmie Parks
Density 83% single family house, 6% townhouse, 7% apartmentApartments
Residents Feels like a Village to ResidentsFeels like

Core Values

St. Aidans United Church and Cadboro Bay United Church

Amalgamation Project Core Values

Our core values as inspired by the teachings of Jesus and affirmed by this community are:

  1. Progressiveness: Aligning ourselves with a progressive Christian theology and voice that embraces diversity and emphasizes social justice.
  • Transformative: Making a positive difference in the lives of people, communities and the world by working for transformation through love, compassion and generosity.
  • Innovative: Modeling ways of “being church” that provide multiple and diverse entry points to involvement and service, and that build alternative models of funding to ensure the financial sustainability of the church for future generations.
  • Responsive: Being forward thinking, responsive to changing conditions, and adapting as necessary in order to remain effective and relevant.

2. Integrity: Walking the talk in everything we do.

  • Safe and Welcoming (Inclusive): Becoming a safe place that welcomes and engages with groups and individuals, both those in the mainstream and those on the margins.
  • Accessible: Being an open hearted and accessible place for people with differing physical and mental abilities.
  • Sustainability: Protecting and restoring the integrity of our earth, valuing all living things, and laying the foundations that will enable current and future generations to thrive.
  • Interculturalism: Embracing and reflecting the diverse communities we live in and seek to serve, while respecting each other’s differences.
  • Reconciliation: Building relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities, and working to decolonize language, theology and ways of being.
  • Affirming: Providing safe spaces for individuals of all gender identities and sexual orientations (LGBTQ2S+).

3. Connectedness: Building strong connections and shared values with others.

  • Relationships: Acknowledging that the sacred and holy are present and made manifest in every relationship.
  • Partnerships: Working in partnership with community organizations, social enterprises, neighbourhoods and local governments to address economic, social and ecological issues.
  • Youth Engagement: Creating connections with children, youth, and young adults that empower them to actively shape our common future.
  • Growing Church Community: Fostering connected, meaningful and deep relationships through small groups and spiritual practices.
  • Combating Social Isolation: Building community around shared passions and interests, and providing safe spaces for people to gather, dialogue, learn from and explore differences.

Media Advisory

December 10. 2019

                                            Amalgamating to Build a Movement for Change

Victoria, BC-   On Sunday, November 24, 2019, Cadboro Bay United Church (CBUC) and St. Aidan’s United Church voted to bring their two communities together in order to create a fresh, new approach to church in the Capital Regional District.   

“Typically, churches amalgamate because their membership is declining or their financial health is poor. But that’s not what happened here,” Cheryl Black, lead minister at St. Aidan’s stated.  “Both churches felt they could offer a lot more to the greater community and to the world, if they could re-imagine their purpose and what they might potentially offer in partnership with other community groups.  This new expression will be a regional United Church for Saanich/Gordon Head, but it will be more than that. Community hub seems to describe it best at this time.”

Just at the start of their new story together, there is much work to do and many decisions to be made. Building and staffing configuration are still to be determined but over the next three years, this progressive Christian community is confidant they will bring their vision to life. 

One small part of their vision has already been realized: the two churches have invested in a social enterprise as a means of becoming less dependent on member donations and as a way of living out their values. Just Like Family Home Care is home care for seniors, an on-going need in greater Victoria.

This new vision will include but not be limited to the following:

1) a focus on accompanying  people on their diverse spiritual paths, realizing there are many ways to experience or explore what is sacred, and that all human beings are worthy of love;  

2) an approach that welcomes everyone into this fresh expression of church life, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation,  gender expression, race, levels of income, and physical or mental challenges.  Inclusion and diversity will continue to be core values.

3) a commitment to further explore what it means to be an intercultural community of faith, as well as to walk the path of  Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.  Decolonizing our thinking, behaviours, and policies will be on-going and rigorous.

4) an emphasis on building a movement for social and ecological justice by working with diverse community partners including non-profits, artists, and others who support our vision and values.

“In a climate emergency, we need to unite behind the science and then begin the task of changing everything. And that includes institutions like churches,” Mark Green, lead minister at CBUC,suggested “With this decision, St. Aidan’s and CBUC are in a good place to do that work and shift priorities as needed. I believe this evolving regional church will play a role in our collective challenge to transform society. Climate heating is scary, but together, we can do more to mitigate and adapt to our rapidly changing world.”

140 years ago, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church planted a seed called St. Aidan’s.

60 years ago, First Metropolitan United planted a seed called CBUC. 

This initial support of the downtown churches for these two neighbourhood churches, the generations of faithful people who devoted their time and talents to sustaining them, and the financial contributions and encouragement from the national United Church of Canada, have made this bold amalgamation possible today.  We are grateful and humbled by their trust.

With this larger re-imagined church, there will be more to offer- more worship services and diverse community gatherings, more small groups to join, more opportunities for service, education and celebration.  This is good news for all who seek deeper relationships, greater meaning and purpose, and reconnection with the web of life.

For more information visit:  www.cadbayuc.org or  www.staidansunited.ca

Media Contacts:

Rev Mark Green  mark@cadbayuc.org

Rev Cheryl Black cheryl.black@staidansunited.com


This website is mean to be used as a hub for information regarding the amalgamation between St. Aidan’s United Church and Cadboro Bay United Church. In the links above you will find information regarding timelines, budgets, social enterprise, small groups, etc

Tasks & Decisions Still to Unfold After the Vote

  1. Naming of the New Congregation

A new name for the newly amalgamated congregation will need to be discerned and voted on by the joint congregation. A process to illicit ideas and find creative ways to name the new regional church in a way that will make sense to both those who currently belong and (perhaps more importantly) to those who are outside the church or unfamiliar with the united church will be important. This is no easy task but will be an important one moving forward.

2. Distilling Purpose and Mission in More Succinct Way

While the comprehensive vision statement (From Neighbourhood to Regional: A New Platform for a 21st Century Church) that was voted upon at the respective AGM’s at the beginning of 2019 contain all the elements that are guiding this process; there is a need to distill some of the elements into a more succinct statement and draw out the mission and purposes in concrete ways. We will work with an outside consultant who will help us and lead us in a process.

3. New Governance Model

Both congregations have strong governance but moving forward we will need a new model to help us achieve a new way of being. There are many different models for us to choose from, some that we know and others that we are less familiar with. Whatever model we choose must have the support and approval of the Regional Council of the UCC. We will be working with a consultant to help us design a new model using the best practices currently available that also match our vision, purpose and goals as a church.

4. New Staffing Model

Both congregations have good and competent ministerial staff.  While job descriptions will change, there will be a place in the new model for each of the current 4. However, there will also be a need for additional program staff to meet the goals and mission of the new church. The design of the new staffing model will be tied to the new budget that is developed which will be looking at the multiple streams of incomes and expenses moving forward. On the effective date of the Amalgamation (May 31st, 2020), the current staff will be appointed until Dec 31, 2020 and then the new congregation will vote on the new staffing model and the staff to be called together before the end of the appointments. Our consultant will also be helping us through this task as well.

5. New Home – Building Reno/Design

The new design for our new church home will be the most fun part of this process. Imagining the possibilities to meet the new goals, mission, staffing models, worship and program needs and community partners involved will be a dynamic process. There will be room for lots of input, imagination and dreaming as we go forward. The involvement of several professionals to take our ideas and “napkin drawings” to a place where permits, architectural drawings and builders can be engaged will require the work of many. There will be several votes along the way by the new congregation to approve both designs and budgets related to this part of the amalgamation.

6. Reallocating and Leveraging Assets with a 5+ Year Plan for the Future Congregation

As per section 7, we have been blessed with many assets that we will need to discern wisely. What the best way forward is to leverage these and maintain a legacy for future generations as well. In addition to these assets are the social enterprise revenues, the legacy gifts and bequests, the ongoing sustaining donations of our congregation and income from our partners and grants. All of these will need to be balanced with the goals of the new congregation and the budget requirements to be sustainable. We will also be needing to consult and work with the Pacific Mountain Region who have oversight over some of the property assets and gain their support and approval. A comprehensive 5- 7 year budget will be presented to the new congregation as we  get clearer about some of the other interfacing issues above.

7. Community Partnership Engagement

Moving forward we will need to be intentional about not living in an isolated bubble but rather engaged in a shared mission with other community partners.  Some of those partners may reside with us in our location and others may not.  An authentic relationship where we are engaged in the overlaps of our shared mission and supportive of the parts that are unique to one another will be key to our diversity and new identity in the future. We have begun some of the conversations with potential partnership and will be pursuing these further after the vote has occurred to obtain MOA’s (memorandums of understanding) in the new year.

8. Affirm Status

Both congregations are LGBTQ2 affirming and positive but St Aidan’s has completed the process to get their Affirming status and designation.  CBUC has been in contact about what they need to do to complete the process to become designated and this will happen in the new year before the amalgamation date. Therefore this joint status will follow us both in the amalgamation and be applied to the new congregation.

9. Third Space

Third Space is a concept related to creating spaces where people want to gather that is not their home or work space but is a comfortable place to congregate.  For many, places like coffee shops or community art spaces etc have begun to fulfil that function. Third space is a concept that we want to explore more and shape our mission and ministry to include the creation of a welcoming, inclusive and safe space that can become a third space for many and a gateway into the life of our community of faith. Some ideas are being played with and some research has been done. More research is needed and is underway and these insights will offer input to the design of our new church space. 

Intercultural and Reconciliation Emphasis

  1. Current Work in Learning to Become an Intercultural Church

Both congregations are aware that we have been very white middle class congregations historically. While we use language that shows a desire to be welcoming and diverse, we often are unaware of the ways we unintentionally create barriers for those who come from other cultures or for whom English is not their first language.  As the make up of our city and country becomes more diverse, we are called to rise to the challenge to become more intercultural in our approach and in our leadership.

In 2016, St Aidan’s applied for a grant to begin an intercultural ministry which has included both outreach to the intercultural community through ESL and other programs.  It has also sought to offer intercultural workshops and experiences to its members on a monthly basis and found ways to integrate the intercultural community into some areas of its life and work.  In 2018 CBUC joined in that process and monthly workshops with a strong turnout began once a month after Sunday worship and lunch.  Both congregations have been learning what it means to see the world through another person’s eyes, culture and experience.

A recent report to St Aidan’s by a group of intercultural business students hired to look at their congregation through that lens has made a number of recommendations of possible ways to be more welcoming and of ways to be of service to and with new immigrants and those coming from other cultures to Victoria. These learnings will be incorporated into the new ministry plan and staffing model as we move forward.

2. Current Work in Learning to be a Church that takes the Call to Reconciliation Seriously.

Both congregations have a commitment to land and territory acknowledgement at the beginning of all that they do in public life. Each is committed to learning more about what it means to be involved in the reconciliation movement in adopting the calls to the church from the TRC.

In 2006, CBUC made a very conscious decision to be involved in what would later become known as the reconciliation movement. Building on the apologies of the United Church to First Nations communities for residential schools and for our participation in the genocide of their culture, they embarked on relationship building and educational programs to widen the circle of people knowledgeable of our role as individuals and as a church in the colonization of indigenous peoples. Over the last 12+ years they have been leaders in the presbytery in hosting learning events, securing grants, hosting theatre groups and working with Indigenous leaders to forge new ways of being in community together.  Tough conversations have happened in what has been experienced by members of both communities as a safe place to do this work.

CBUC was present when the TRC came to Victoria in 2012 as witnesses to listen to the stories of those who suffered at residential schools. Over 40 members of CBUC attended for some or all of the commission’s work here in Victoria. They have hosted the blanket exercise a number of times as well as the deepening workshop that is a follow up of a day long experience called “The Villages”; more than 80 people participated in that pivotal event as well. 

A significant portion of our local outreach dollars support Indigenous partners in the pursuit for justice. A recent court case won by the Beaver Lake Cree supported by RAVEN, one of CBUC’s partners, released a press release with the following words: To run a national campaign in support of Beaver Lake Cree RAVEN has teamed up with some amazing partners! The Leap, Cadboro Bay United Church, ENvironnement JEUnesse, Justice Climatique Montréal et Climate Justice Edmonton: we couldn’t have done it without you!

St. Aidan’s involvement with living out the TRC recommendations has been more haphazard than systematic over the years. A group attended the TRC in Victoria and was moved by the stories. Connections were made after that with First Nations People but often in the form of crafting. The youth group were taught by an elder how to do felting and under her leadership made a Christmas nativity set which is still in use. There has been a

drumming workshop, a Sunday speaker from the Songhees Wellness Centre, a congregational tour of the Songhees Wellness Centre in Esquimalt, as well as a congregational bus trip to the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre

in the Cowichan Valley.  They are looking forward to having a more systematic approach to living out the TRC recommendations with CBUC.

3. Lining Up with the Two New Mandates of the National Church

Intercultural: In its newest document entitled “Vision for becoming an Intercultural church” these words are found: God exists in community, and we are invited to be in community together. Being an intercultural church means living together with a respectful awareness of each other’s differences. We do this by examining ourselves, building relationships, and distributing power fairly.

Individually and in community, we do everything through the lenses of our cultures: there is no such thing as a culture-free perspective. Our experiences and understandings are shaped by our cultures. Since we cannot capture the complexity of God through our limited cultural understandings, our understanding of God is limited when we see this God through only one dominant cultural perspective. Instead, our understandings of God and our scriptures can be deepened when we come together, as disciples of Jesus Christ, in all of our differences and diversities to acknowledge intercultural reality and richness.

We strive to become an intercultural church to deepen our understandings and experiences of God and of one another. Within the United Church, a variety of cultural expressions of faith are affirmed and welcomed. Part of the vision of the intercultural church is to create a space where we can sustain our own cultural identities while also affirming those of one another.

St Aidan’s has been ahead of the curve in the contracting with Julie Ng and beginning the work at integrating folks into the life and work of the church. CBUC has engaged wholeheartedly and going forward as an amalgamated community of faith, we will make this aspect of what it means to be a diverse community a new priority. Like the national church, we will use this lens to evaluate what we are doing, decisions we are making and leadership we are asking to sit at the table as we move forward.  In our new staffing model, intercultural ministry will have an important function and we will seek to align ourselves with the national church strategy on this. We have the foundation on which to build.

Reconciliation: The calls to the church emerged from a process of discernment by the Indigenous church as The United Church of Canada as a whole discerned a way forward, following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Under the guidance of the Aboriginal Ministries Council (now the National Indigenous Council), the Caretakers of Our Indigenous Circle, a group of Indigenous leaders from across The United Church of Canada, gathered throughout 2016 and 2017 and gave oversight to consultations with Indigenous communities of faith during that same period. Calls to the church were the result of these conversations. Calls to the church articulates the Indigenous Church’s vision for the ongoing development of Indigenous Peoples’ mission and ministry and communities of faith within The United Church of Canada. It outlines pathways for the whole church to continue to walk in the Spirit of Christ toward justice, healing, and reconciliation.

There are many recommendations, some of them specific to the work of the national church and some of them related to the everyday work of communities of faith (you can read them all online united-church.ca). Many of them are about relationship building and about decolonizing our theology, language and way of being.  These are important steps that CBUC has been on the leading edge in what was Victoria Presbytery. We again have a foundation on which to build. One of the calls to the church in this document is a sharing of wealth when land sales and transfers take place. This has been affirmed also by the region and we will faithfully need to engage this as we leverage our property assets if we want the land acknowledgements we make each Sunday to remain authentic.