An openly gay park board commissioner has no issue with the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Yaletown renting space to a church that teaches against abortion, pre-marital sex, same-sex marriage, divorce and the ordination of women.
Vancouver West Church has been holding regular Sunday services at the Roundhouse since Easter weekend.
As long as theyre not promoting hate crimes, said Vision Vancouver commissioner Trevor Loke.
Loke was successful Monday night in passing a motion that will see a working group created to come up with a plan to make Vancouver the worlds most inclusive jurisdiction for trans and gender-variant communities. Loke said that goal should include gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms in park board facilities, such as community centres, as well as human resources training and staff policies, programming and public and community partnerships.
Loke does not see renting out space to a church that preaches against homosexuals and womens rights as a conflict of interest.
Everyone is welcome to their viewpoints around abortion and same-sex marriage. They might not cater to my point of view, but I have to respect that. And everyone should have access to our community centres, said Loke.
The church is one of three that holds regular religious services in a park board-owned community centre. Sunset and Mount Pleasant community centres also rent out rooms for church services, but the Courier was unable to find out which groups run those services before press deadline. In response to inquiries from the Courier, park board spokesperson Jason Watson sent an email that read, In terms of rentals by church groups it varies by centre, and is covered off by rental policies: private, commercial, political or religious organizations are able to rent facilities in a community centre or park for private functions etc. Community centres have spaces available to rent for meetings, weddings and other events.
Vancouver Wests lead pastor Anthony Ens explained his church is part of the United Pentecostal Fellowship based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Opening new churches, or church planting, to spread the word of God is part of the faith.
The American-born pastor had previously been serving in Quesnel, B.C., when he was invited to Vancouver last year to perform a wedding service for a family at VanDusen Botanical Garden.
I preached for about 10 minutes at the wedding and could feel this very cool presence of the Lord, said Ens. Then I stood in a field for eight hours and answered questions about my ministry.
Ens said it was not long after when God directed him through prayer to plant a church in Vancouver. Ens noted while his church may share some similarities to Westside Church, such as church planting, it is not affiliated. The Courier broke the news last week that Westside Church is negotiating to purchase the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Westside Church, which has an office on West Broadway, has church plants at the Arts Clubs Granville Island Stage theatre and at the Park and Tilford Cineplex Odeon Theatre on the North Shore.
Both Westside and Vancouver West churches combine conservative theology with a modern approach to religion. Both take a casual approach to worship, while teaching against abortion, premarital sex, same-sex marriage, divorce and the ordination of women.
Ens confirmed his church holds those beliefs, but added when it comes to conflicting theologies he ensures theres open
I can do that because I dont feel threatened or undermined, said Ens, who added its his core belief its OK to have differing opinions. When asked about the churchs view on homosexuality, he said, People are just people. Its like alcoholism. I know what alcohol does to a lot of families because some people are predisposed to go too far and do things they wish they didnt do. I have zero problems with friends who do those kinds of things.
Ens said the way he preaches is not meant to condemn those who dont follow the teachings of the New Testament.
Its about creating an atmosphere where people realize they can have a positive life with everything they do and Ill love the fire out of them, said Ens. I would never banish them.
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