Sandy Chism used to cringe whenever she said the word ‘church’.
“As a kid, I went to Roman Catholic, because my mother did. I didn’t have a good experience there, and that’s why I was afraid of going anywhere else – because of the hypocrisy and after going to Catholic school,” the White Rock woman explained.
Now – 40 years later – the word rolls off her tongue with ease, a comfort she connects directly to her experience with South Fraser Unitarian Congregation.
“The community there, the people… were just amazing,” Chism said, of what she discovered about six years ago, when she took her then-wife to check out the Newton-based church.
“I never felt any judgments. For me, the people are really good role models and that’s the part I think was missing. I feel like they help me to be a better person.”
April 12, congregation members extinguished the church’s chalice – the primary symbol of the faith – at the Newton Seniors Centre for the last time. Last Sunday, it was relit for the first time in their new home, in Crescent United Church.
The new space was confirmed in March, after months of searching and test runs at both Crescent United and the Pacific Inn.
Chism, who is the current board chair at South Fraser Unitarian, described the connection with Crescent United as “a real partnership for the future.”
“The United Church has always been one that’s been very community-minded, so it’s a good match,” she said. “The space will serve our needs, and the people at Crescent United are awesome.”
She noted that while Unitarianism has existed for around 600 years, many people don’t know what Unitarians are about. She described environmental protection as “a big part” of the faith.
“Living in co-operation with the world, others, the people and the planet,” she said.
“We’re of varied beliefs. We support each other on whatever spiritual path is right for us. It’s not just one God in the sense of this guy in heaven, it’s that one spirit in everything. It’s more about learning from each other and helping each other be good people and good in the world.”
Chism said the congregation welcomes new members and hopes to grow as a result of the move to Crescent United, located at 2756 127 St.
Going forward, the Unitarian service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sundays with the exception of this weekend’s service, which is to take place at 11:30 a.m.
May 3, they’ll celebrate the congregation’s 25th anniversary.
For more information, visit sfuc.bc.ca or call 604-512-9032.