Building community at church

If Beach United Church has registered on your radar screen in any way, it is probably due to our beautiful, newly renovated space that is just up from Queen on Wineva Ave. It is a splendid light-filled building, and if you’ve been walking past at night when the lights are on, it just glows!

For me the most important part of the building is the people – I know, I know, I can hear you sighing, “That is such a churchy thing to say!”

Well, I am a churchy sort of person, but first and foremost I’m a people person. I need to be part of a community that is supportive but which will also challenge me; a community that asks questions and then listens, rather than trying to provide “the” answer. Beach United Church is such a community.

This community I’m talking about is not contained by bricks, concrete, wood and glass. It is not limited to those people who turn up for worship on Sunday morning. But when they step out and connect with neighbours, work colleagues, friends in coffee shops, and fellow dog walkers on the boardwalk, there is a ripple effect and the community spreads.

This rippling effect is a two-way, even three- or four-way process, and it helps us all change and appreciate different perspectives. So when people came into the building at our fall open house, we asked folks to write down some of the things they could imagine happening in the space. We got all sorts of great ideas and we have tried to put some into action.

Many people thought that our large upstairs space would be wonderful for yoga or movement of some sort. Just before Christmas we planned ‘Yoga by Candlelight,’ with the help of some local studios. Unfortunately the weather had different plans and the ice storm forced us to cancel!

The season is changing again and now bulbs are starting to peek out of the ground.

Perhaps by the time you read this, spring will be fully with us. Spring is a time when we feel the new life that is all around us; it is a time when death-shrouded husks break open to reveal new life, green and fragile. It is a time best engaged using all our senses – it is a full body experience.

We are trying again to use that large, spirit-filled upstairs space at BUC to move our bodies. On the evening of Saturday, April 19, during that “in between” time before Easter Sunday, we will move, meditate and light candles. You can bring your mat and experience the space from a different angle or you can move more gently from a seated position.

However your spirit is stirring during this season of change and new life, I hope that you might pause and be filled with wonder. As nature stirs again I am reminded of these words by Nikos Kazantkakis: “I said the almond tree: speak to me of God; and the almond tree blossomed!”

Karen Dale – in ministry with Beach United Church and colleague Abigail Johnson

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