Narrative vision for redevelopment

for discussion, October 31, 2010

Allowing the Land to Support Sustainable Church
For 150 years the parishioners of St John the Divine have been striving to live the way God intended humans to live, in inclusive community with each other, our neighbours, the wider world and God’s creation. We serve God in the heart of Victoria by serving others.
The land on which our church buildings are located is used for worship, meeting space for parishioners and office space for our staff and several arts and music organizations. We house 20 low income seniors. Many community groups use our space for meetings which benefit the greater community. We feed 5000 a year from the food bank and 40 people a night sleep in our basement. We have parking spaces. As well as these practical uses, we also have a lovely haven of peace in our inner garden and the memorial garden.
Your redevelopment committee thinks we can do much more. We are wondering if, through a well-designed development, our property could be a location for arts and service organizations with similar missions, by providing affordable, green, modern office space in a like-minded community. With modern land use and service ideas we could contribute to ending homelessness in Victoria by providing no- or low-income housing. We could also provide beautiful, functional inspirational spaces that will increase the important work we, and others do, of building inclusive spiritual community. We are confident that others will feel closer to God (however they define that), if we encourage a wide range of spiritual practices in this space through which people of a range of traditions can feel spiritually at home here. By including others in our attempts to serve, we anticipate a significant financial return for the congregation, further strengthening our ability to serve.
As part of our exploration into how we can best allow our land to support sustainable church, we are currently in conversation with groups with objectives compatible with St. John’s priorities, to see if any of them would be interested in using office space in a possible redevelopment. These “expressions of interest” are in no way legally binding on either St Johns or the outside group. It will be encouraging to potential development partners to find that there are already organizations interested in relocating to the redevelopment.
Your redevelopment committee believes that St Johns is not interested in developing our land just for the sake of doing so, or even primarily for the sake of obtaining income. The committee believes that St. John’s wants to consider redevelopment to help us undertake St. John’s mission for God in this place.
Your redevelopment committee’s central task is to discover whether we can undertake financially self-sustaining redevelopment on our property at no cost to parishioners and, by doing so support the building of an inclusive community of people seeking to serve others in the heart of Victoria, all anchored by the spiritual centre which is the current church building.
The Task Force members: Graeme Brown, Deborah Curran, Kathleen Gibson, Patricia Lane, David McKay, Gene Miller (consultant), Harold Munn, Larry Scyner.

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