Former Clova finds niche in heart of Cloverdale, a community of ‘renewal’

Two years after trading cinema for sermons, Surrey's historic theatre is settling nicely into its new role as a place of worship

Crossridge Church Pastor Lee Francois says when the church renovated the former Clova

Crossridge Church Pastor Lee Francois says when the church renovated the former Clova

CLOVERDALE — It’s been a long time since the former Clova theatre has looked so new – or been closer to the Lord.

Since being born again in 2014, its sticky floors, grungy seats and giant popcorn machine are gone, replaced by brand new carpeting, comfortable, clean chairs and a giant wooden cross.

Two years after trading cinema for sermons, the theatre is settling nicely into its new role as a place of worship, says Crossridge Church Pastor Lee Francois.

“It’s been very exciting,” says Francois, adding the church feels right at home in the heart of downtown Cloverdale.

“This whole area is undergoing renewal and we’re in the business of spiritual renewal. So we see ourselves as part of the renewal that’s taking place.”

Renewal is a good word to describe the former Clova.

After being owned and operated by Craig Burghardt for 17 years, it was purchased by Crossridge Church in early 2014. Last summer, the church’s 300-350 members helped gut the theatre. Since then, renovations to the tune of between $300,000 and $400,000 have made it almost unrecognizable.

But there’s still more work to do. Francois says the front of the building is in for a facelift – the church is hoping to have it done by the end of this year.

Inside, the new look pays homage to the building’s history – the lobby features movie reel light fixtures and the washrooms boast giant historic murals that depict the theatre’s golden years.

Francois said the church wants to keep the theatre connected to the community, especially since some of the initial negativity regarding closing the Clova down.

Schools and community groups regularly use it and the church opens it up to visitors during the annual Christmas and rodeo parades.

And even though the big screen has been replaced by a big cross, you can still take the family there to see a classic Christmas movie or two, Francois said.

“We try to be good neighbours… We’re putting it to good use.”

beau.simpson@thenownewspaper.com