Raising a Roof – lifting a community in Victoria

First Metropolitan Church building campaign gains traction

Rev. Allan Saunders stands outside the First Metropolitan United Church of Canada on Balmoral Road

Rev. Allan Saunders stands outside the First Metropolitan United Church of Canada on Balmoral Road

Rev. Allan Saunders is grateful for the outpouring of donations to replace the aging roof at First Metropolitan United Church, but he’s more excited about what will happen below once it’s complete.

Members of the 97-year-old church, located at 932 Balmoral Rd., have raised 60 per cent of the $540,000 needed to pay for the metal shingle roof through their Raise the Roof campaign. The physical investment is expected to last at least 50 years.

“It will be much more environmentally friendly, but I think it’s what happens under the roof that’s key,” said Saunders, referencing upcoming events such as a play on restorative justice, a celebration of Ghandi’s birthday and a presentation by environmentalist Guy Dauncey.

“A key part of our mandate is to be engaged in the community and be engaged with the community,” Saunders said.

The six-week project will be completed by Labour Day. Heritage fund contributions of $52,000 and $15,000 have come from the City of Victoria and the province, respectively. Local organizations such as Pacific Opera Victoria, Amica House and Market on Yates have also contributed.

The church hosted Lt.-Gov. Steven Point earlier this year, and Mayor Dean Fortin will speak on Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. on his vision for Victoria.

Fortin acknowledged the church’s shared 150th birthday with the city by inviting Saunders to say an interfaith prayer at anniversary celebrations Aug. 2 in Centennial Square.

“We’re grateful for the generations who paid it forward for us, and now we’re going to do a number of things that have a vision for the future,” Saunders said.

Upcoming events at First Metropolitan:

Science, God and Nature

Date: Sept. 21, 1 p.m.

Eco-futurist Guy Dauncey offers his experience developing and living out a positive vision of a sustainable future.

Building a Global Culture of Peace, with James O’Dea

Date: Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

Renowned international peace builder James O’Dea’s  social healing work has led him to Rwanda, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland.

Japanese folk music concert with Takio Ito

Date: Oct. 3, 7 p.m.

Takio Ito has incorporated jazz, rock, and other traditional Asian elements into his work.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer (GLBTQ) Spirituality

Date: Oct. 14‚ 1 p.m.

The session with Rev. Dr. Martin Brokenleg will explore the formation of a gay identity and explore how many queer folk are reading the scriptures.

dpalmer@vicnews.com