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Whistler Community Church eyes 2021 opening

Congregation holds virtual groundbreaking
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The construction of a new church at 7226 Fitzsimmons Drive in White Gold represents a “huge paradigm shift” for the Whistler Community Church, according to pastor Jon Pasiuk. Photo by Braden Dupuis.

There’s a common occurrence that always perplexes Whistler Community Church pastor Jon Pasiuk.

“One of the things that always kills me is when people are visiting from out of town and they’re like, ‘yeah, we got in a taxi and we said take us to the church, and the taxi driver says, oh there’s no church in Whistler,’” Pasiuk said.

“Which, you know, there is the Catholic Church, which they should know about, but it’s like, no, we’ve existed since 1979. We’ve always been here.”

While the church and its congregation of about 130 has existed for decades, for the past 20 years or so worshippers have met at Myrtle Philip Community School.

With the construction of a new church well underway at 7226 Fitzsimmons Drive in White Gold, Pasiuk sees a “huge paradigm shift” underway for the congregation.

“Having our own space means that we’re able to facilitate a lot more of our own ministry activities, and also be a blessing to the community and create capacity for community events,” Pasiuk said.

“I envision that one day my kids will be doing their sports camp there, and first aid classes, and all kinds of events that at this point are happening at Myrtle Philip and [other places], but now there’s more space available.”

A local family donated the land for the project in 1999, and it took three years to get the zoning for a church, Pasiuk said, adding that the church has paid property tax on the land every year since it took possession.

The build itself is being funded through private donations.

Framing is now finished for the 825-square-metre building, which will include classrooms, office space, a kitchen, fellowship hall and a 250-seat auditorium.

The project should be fully completed by the end of next summer.

While discussions around potential community uses are ongoing, one area of “huge demand” right now is childcare, Pasiuk said.

“I don’t think we as a church feel like we’re in a place where we can take on operating our own, but maybe at some point if there’s an operator who wants to use the space and work with us that way, then we’d be looking at entertaining those conversations in the coming year,” he said.

In a letter to council at the Aug 18 council meeting, Craig Allers from the Whistler Community Church requested that the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) apply a Grant in Aid to offset development costs for the project, as it has previously done for the Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church and Millennium Place.

The Church has paid more than $80,000 in RMOW building and development costs, Allers wrote, in addition to a landscaping deposit.

As the church is a religious charitable organization that makes no profit, “every dollar that it costs, we have to raise either beforehand or we have to pay in a mortgage,” Pasiuk said.

“We are investing in infrastructure to benefit the community, and we are investing in a building that is going to be eco-friendly, and so as we are putting our resources into these things we’re just hoping to see how far our money can go, really.”

The RMOW’s Grant in Aid program was changed to the Community Enrichment Program in 2005, a spokesperson said, noting that this year’s application period is closed and funds have been awarded.

Like every other aspect of society, the church has had to adapt with the COVID-19 times, meaning live-streamed services and smaller groups meeting at the Westin (as Myrtle Philip has been closed).

“We’ve had to change how we do things a lot. Everyone has to pre-register for services, which of course nobody likes to do those kinds of things, and then we have to be socially distanced,” Pasiuk said.

“We want to keep people safe, and we also want to show that we’re doing our part, and so the optics of it are important to us.”

Further to that, the church also held a virtual groundbreaking for the new building, in which families filmed their own greetings and congratulations.

Watch the final product on YouTube (Whistler Community Church Groundbreaking Video).