for decades, the story of the Whistler Community Church has been one of resilience. Over the course of its 40 years in the resort, the interdenominational church has met, at various times, out of local homes, an A-frame cabin in Creekside that doubled as the Whistler Skiers' Chapel, and an elementary school gym.
Now, the church has its eye set on its very own permanent facility that will be housed on a piece of donated land. Since 1992, the church has met at Myrtle Philip Community School, which has presented certain logistical challenges, said Pastor Jon Pasiuk.
"We're very thankful for the ability to partner with the muni and use that facility, but, also, for a church that meets week in and week out, the setup and teardown takes a huge amount of effort from our volunteers," he said. "We're looking forward to a future in which those hours can be redirected to other purposes."
Discussions about a new facility began in 1999 after the local Den Duyf family donated a 1.74-acre (0.7-hectare) parcel of land in White Gold to be used for the church. Now, with half of the estimated $3-million project cost raised, the wheels are back in motion. Pasiuk said the new church, which is zoned for up to 9,000 square feet (836 square metres), is expected to open in either late 2020 or early 2021.
"I grew up in a Christian home and always was taught to give back of what we received, and bless others," said Nell Den Duyf of the donation, who first arrived in Whistler with her husband Art in 1978 and has seen the church through multiple iterations.
While aimed at serving the congregation of about 130, the new church will also act as an event space for the entire Whistler community, Pasiuk said. The plans are to host ministry events throughout the week as well—not just on Sundays.
"We want to expand on what we're doing so that we've got events happening all throughout the week, and also use the facility as a blessing to the community, because we know there are other groups like arts and athletics groups and educational opportunities that are looking for a home as well. We can partner with them as well," he said.
With a home base to rely on, Pasiuk expects the congregation's numbers to increase as more people—both residents and visitors alike—discover the church.
"One of the things we've been challenged with in our current arrangement is that people don't know we're here," he noted. "People come to the hotels and ask the concierge or the taxi driver how they get to the church, and they say, 'There is no church here.' We've been here for 40 years and they still don't know."
Looking back at the church's legacy, Pasiuk said the impact the place of worship has had stretches far beyond Whistler's boundaries—something he hopes will carry on into the future.
"Even though we might only be 130 people on a Sunday morning, the number of people spread out around the world who have been impacted by this church is a number larger than we could imagine," he said. "We want to continue to be a blessing to everyone who is here, whether they are here for a week or two, or they've been a part of the church for 20 years."
The Whistler Community Church is hosting its 40th-anniversary celebration on Saturday, April 13 from 5 to 10 p.m. at Whistler Secondary School. Church leaders past and present will attend, and food will be served.