This is the mantra that accompanied the restoration and renewal of Christ Church Cathedral at the corner of Georgia and Burrard in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It is the Cathedral church of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of New Westminster, the Regimental Church of the Seaforth Highlanders and the place of worship for the British royal family when they visit Vancouver.
The beautiful new bell spire depicted in the centre of the photo is perhaps the most apparent renewal feature.
Welcoming Light is a 30 metre steel spire with 18 metres of custom designed stained glass by Canadian artist Sarah Hall. The stained glass gives rise to images of windswept candlelight. Inside the glass are four bronze bells custom made in France by the Picard Bell Foundry. The bells ring out for Sunday services, for festive days, for civic events and as each workday begins and ends.
The spire stands beside Christ Church Cathedral as a beautiful, inspiring and welcoming sentinel, not only for this festive season, but all year round. Indeed when the Cathedral was first completed around 1895, there were no highrise towers, and the church itself became known as “the light on the hill” since it was used by mariners to navigate as they came into port. Welcoming Light in its own way illuminates the path to the Cathedral that provides guidance to the diverse community it serves.
It’s a refuge for the hungry and homeless with its newly renovated kitchen serving soup and sandwiches to over 100 people a day. Its new roof protects this historic Gothic church as a place of worship, a community gathering place for performance and visual art, conferences, community groups, political debates,
and “a safe, welcoming and positive space for LGBTQ people, their friends and families.” Same sex blessings have been authorized since 2002, and women have been ordained into the priesthood since the mid-70s. The Cathedral’s motto is “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” What could be more essential in today’s world where diversity is seen by growing numbers of people and politicians as something threatening rather than as something enriching.
The bell spire is seen to fullest advantage at night and the Cathedral itself is open to visitors Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.