A disestablished Anglican church in Ladysmith, B.C., has been sold to a local community organization that plans to build affordable housing on the site.
The diocese of British Columbia announced earlier this month it had sold a site in the Vancouver Island town that was formerly the property of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. The parish voted to disestablish in April, 2016, and soon thereafter, the diocese was approached about the property by the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA), a charity that provides a range of social services to people living in and around the town.
The diocese sold the property to LRCA April 28. The diocese is not disclosing the price, since this was a condition of the sale. Bishop Logan McMenamie says other parties were willing to pay more than what LRCA paid, but the diocese liked LRCA’s goal of using the property for an affordable housing complex.
“This organization approached us right away, and so we started working with them and tried to work out a deal that was kind of a win-win situation for both of us,” he says. “There were a couple of other people who wanted to put in larger bids and we said no, because we really picked up on this group of people. They’re local, and we know that they had the community at heart—and housing.”
As it works to discern a new role for the church, he says, the diocese will be asking itself questions such as, “How can we join other faith communities, and how can we join people who might not be in a faith community, that we identify as doing God’s mission to the world, and support them?” LRCA’s housing project is an example of this type of work, he says, because providing affordable housing to people is an important priority for the diocese.
The property includes a wooden church, the high cost of repairs to which was one of the reasons why the parish decided to disestablish, McMenamie says. LRCA plans to tear the church down and put up an entirely new building on the site, one with 30 to 40 units of affordable housing for seniors, adults with developmental disabilities and people unable to afford rents in the local market.
Since the disestablishment, most St. John the Evangelist parishioners are now worshipping at an Anglican church in the nearby community of Cedar, McMenamie says. But that doesn’t mean Anglican ministry in Ladysmith is over, he says. Parishioners continue to do a meal program and meet in one another’s houses for Bible study, for example. Meanwhile, the diocese is investing the proceeds of the sale and plans to use the investment income—roughly $7,000-$8,000 per year, at current rates of return—for ministry, McMenamie says. It hopes to work with LRCA in the future, although the details have yet to be worked out.