Victoria’s modern minded Lighthouse Church is rethinking tradition.
Pastor Scott McDowell and the Presbyterian Lighthouse congregation are leaving behind the iconic, red brick monument that is Centennial United Church of Rock Bay for the glitz and glamour of SilverCity Victoria Cinemas.
It’s a much more logical move than it might appear, said McDowell, who is well rooted in Tillicum already. His family of five are stationed just across the street from Tillicum Centre.
“It’s not a new idea to run a church service out of a theatre but it’s new to SilverCity in Saanich,” McDowell said. “My family’s been in Tilllicum for three years and we love the neighbourhood. Our kids are at Tillicum elementary. Now we’re hoping the church will grow as part of an already great community.”
McDowell is originally from Mississippi. He came to Canada a decade ago, after years of community development work in Nairobi, Kenya, where he met his wife.
Both his parents are university professors. His father Scott is particularly excited about the church’s new setting, as film is the focus of his teachings as the University of Southern Mississippi.
“People know the experience of the theatre, it’s a comfortable and welcoming setting,” McDowell said. The idea is to create a space where people can find answers to questions of ‘who they are, what is their salvation, and is there hope and forgiveness?.’”
Lighthouse will run its first SilverCity service this Sunday, Aug. 24, a chance to work out some of the kinks before debuting its blend of modern music with traditional, robust theology, at the official launch on Sept. 7. The change of location also means resetting the service from its current 5 p.m. at Centennial United to a more traditional start time of 10 a.m.
With 10 cinemas available, SilverCity has taken many tenants as well as other expanded programming. Some come to watch the opera or sporting events, other groups will rent a screen for a giant video gaming experience.
Here in town, Lighthouse is following the model run by West Village Church pastor Chris Synasael, a friend of McDowell’s who’s run the Baptist service out of the Cineplex Odeon Theatre in Langford for two years.
“We’ll run a simultaneous Sunday school service in an adjacent theatre and will also have use of the cinema’s party room and play area for wee tots.”