110-year-old downtown Victoria church held its final service this past Sunday

110-year-old downtown Victoria church held its final service this past Sunday
CHEK

This past Sunday, the congregation of First Met held its final worship service. Earlier this year, First Met and Broad View United voted to amalgamate and move to a new purpose-built location.

Both churches are products of earlier amalgamations. Broad View United came about when St Aidan’s and Cadboro Bay United merged in 2020. At the time, St Aidan’s Rev. Cheryl Black said the decision wasn’t about shrinking membership or finances, but rather about a changing concept of what the church was.

“If we wanted to maintain strength, we realized that actually, we could be stronger together. We could be a larger-membership church, we could both do more things and have a bigger presence.”

A message to parishioners from Broad View United’s Rev. Mark Green echoes that, emphasizing “abundance of possibilities with the combining of resources and enthusiastic volunteers and congregants.”

First Metropolitan United, built in 1913, was the outcome of a 1997 amalgamation between First United and Metropolitan United Church. That led to one old church, the 1893-built one at Quadra and Pandora, being sold to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

The congregation will carry on the Broad View name and will hold its first Sunday service on Nov. 26 at its new site, the former location of  St. Aidan’s church, near Cedar Hill Cross and Shelbourne.  The two had already been sharing services; as Broad View’s site underwent renovations this fall, its congregation spent Sundays at First Met.

As of the new year, the two churches will become one financial and legal entity. Once the parish leaves its home in the historic building at 932 Balmoral, that property will revert to the ownership of the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church of Canada (PMRC), whose jurisdiction covers much of BC and Whitehorse.

Both local churches are part of the United Church of Canada, and the two share similar approaches. In line with the new name Broad View, both emphasize that they are broadly welcoming of people across different social backgrounds including culture and sexual and gender identity.

The decision didn’t come from the top down, but was initiated at the congregation level through the submission of an application to the United Church’s Community of Faith Council. The invitational amalgamation was approved in June and is effective as of December 31.

News of what will become of the historic building at 932 Balmoral Rd. will come, at some point in the near future, from Treena Duncan, the Executive Minister of the United Church of Canada.

“We will continue to care deeply and act in ways that honour our history in several significant locations downtown.” First Met Rev. Shelagh MacKinnon assured her community in comments she made at the time of the announcement.

“This historic site has been the locale for many events and services in the lives of our members and in the city as a whole. We treasure those memories as we journey on to create new ones.”

Rev. MacKinnon will become the Pastoral Care and Transition Minister at the new Broad View United.

A message to parishioners from Broad View United’s Rev. Mark Green on the subject of the amalgamation echoed the Rev. Black’s emphasis on renewed strength in numbers. “abundance of possibilities with the combining of resources and enthusiastic volunteers and congregants.”

Sidney Coles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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