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Knox United Church Vancouver – Updates

November, 2021

Is any update better than no update?  I hope so.  It’s been a busy autumn for me (made all the busier by daily raking — see photo!), so I apologize for being slow with blog updates.  I don’t have a lot of news for you this week, but here are a few tidbits of news from around the church:

Fallen Leaves of November

The Knox Choir gathered this past week for the first time since the pandemic.  While adhering to pandemic safety protocols, the choir recorded an anthem which will air at our Advent 1 (Nov 28) service.  Well done, choir!  And big thanks to Colleen and Madelene for their leadership.

There will be a Board meeting this Thursday, with lots of ground to cover as we prepare for 2022.  Bill Goodsir will be attending to provide updates on the Building Project (the wheels at the City of Vancouver grind slowly).  And we’ll have an initial discussion about the 2022 Budget.  There are lots of things to consider money-wise, now that we’re not operating and caring for the Fellowship Centre. 

Knox’s Finance Team continues to work on some fairly major financial system upgrades, and are making excellent progress.  Margaret P, Larry T Josie and I, along with our book-keeper Jeannie, are meeting weekly to keep the project on-track and as stress-free as possible.  The changes we’re making now will simplify our financial management considerably, making Knox more nimble and efficient and better positioned to consider future vision-related opportunities and initiatives.

Finally, I want to send a big thank you to the Stewardship & Social Justice team, and especially Rev. Richard, Rev. Sharon and Josie, for developing and managing the Stewardship Campaign.  And of course, thanks to all of you for all the generous ways you give of your time, treasure, and talent.

Take care, everyone.  As we add flu season to the pandemic, stay safe — and do your best to keep others safe, too.

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


Boots – A Neighbourhood Feline Who Enjoys Visiting Knox

October, 2021

How did September fly by so quickly?  This blog update is many weeks overdue, so I thank you for your patience.

Did you attend Knox’s Welcome Back event on October 3rd?  We were thrilled to have over 50 guests in the Church Building to view the changes we’ve made over the summer.  These changes were hard work — labour intensive, often messy, and always time-consuming.   Here is a recap of life at Knox since ~June:

  • Weekly virtual worship
  • Summer Spirit planning & participation
  • Worship report submitted to Board on re-purposing the church building for flexible spaces
  • Ongoing build of new Knox website
  • Appropriate storage facilities identified and procured
  • Search for temporary office space
  • Downsizing, moving &/or storage of 3 offices, Room 1, lounge, pianos, furniture, Rip & Stitch cupboard, kitchen, library, lobby, gym storage & locker, sheds, renters, Preschool, and a surprising number of credenzas!
  • Relocation of tools, landscaping equipment and sheds
  • Various rounds of thrift and junk removal
  • Creating an event for the congregation to tour the empty space and say goodbye
  • Relocation and storage of sanctuary and chapel pews
  • Construction of AV system booth
  • AV system installation and training
  • Beautiful garden maintenance and planters
  • Ongoing Instrumental Measures events and Curated & Curious blog updates
  • Pew removal and storage from sanctuary and chapel
  • Flower room upgrade to include a kitchen
  • Re-inventing the chapel as a multi-purpose space
  • Re-arranging the Narthex to create a multi-purpose space
  • Prepping vestry for its new function as office space
  • Electric and plumbing work in various parts of the church building
  • Postal service redirection (notice we have a new mailbox and a different street number!)
  • Wayfarer Art Exhibit at Knox, August 14th
  • Wifi upgrades and phone line relocation
  • An extra Board meeting (we don’t usually meet in August)
  • Survey written to collect congregant feedback on returning to in-person worship
  • Sealing the concrete sanctuary floor
  • Deep cleaning the sanctuary
  • Planning and holding Sept 19th Dabble & Babble event
  • Planning and holding October 3rd Welcome Back event

Whew!  I’m tired just writing this.  And the list isn’t comprehensive – nor is the work entirely finished.   But here’s a truly amazing fact:  Almost ALL this work was accomplished by Knox staff and congregants.  Very little was outsourced. 

You can imagine how pleased-but-tired our staff and volunteers feel after months of hard work, and how glad they will be when it’s all truly done.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who re-imagined our space, and to those rolled up their sleeves to make things happen. 

Now – what else is happening around Knox?  In no particular order…Finance systems upgrade – Ably led by chair Margaret P and Treasurer Larry, our Finance Team and Josie are now working on a list of recommendations approved by the Board for the upgrade of Knox’s finance systems.  In summary, we aim to implement a number of operational efficiencies, reduce manual processing, improve accuracy and facilitate timely reporting, simplify the Chart of Accounts, and review our financial software for further improvements.  The project will also involve reviewing and updating Knox’s financial policies.  If you’d like a detailed list of items, please ask Josie for a copy of the Board’s September meeting minutes.

Why are we making changes to such longstanding practices, you might ask?  These recommendations had input from Robyn (our outgoing bookkeeper), Jeannie (our new bookkeeper), and subject matter experts from Pacific Mountain Region.  Once the changes are in place, they will be significant time-savers from an administrative perspective.  They’ll also make our financial processes more secure and will prepare Knox to be nimbler in the future, as we pursue our Vision.  But most importantly, they are modern best practices.

Construction Project – Alan, Bill and John (our project manager) are working closely with our lawyer, Make Projects (for Hon Towers), and Hon’s lawyer, to prepare a revised contract.  It’s taking more time than initially predicted, but the work is detailed, necessary, and quite typical for construction projects.  Hon continues to work with the City of Vancouver on a variety of permits and permit changes related to the anticipated changes in the project.  The Board and Trustees hope to see a first draft of the revised contract very soon.

Website Hack – No doubt you’ve read about the Knox website hack.  We were not alone in this security breech, but we are on our own in rebuilding what was a nearly new website — from scratch.  Our webminder Debra and her dedicated team have been putting in a huge number of hours to get virtual worship reinstated and to get us fully back online.  Thank you, Knox web team!!

Renter reintegration – Josie and I are beginning to reintegrate space users at Knox.  We’re pleased to welcome Acting Up! back this week, and will then welcome other groups, one or two at a time.  This is a bit of a juggling act.  Who can use which rooms on what days?  For how long?  How will the spaces be cleaned and sanitized afterwards?   We have our own staff and worship team to accommodate as they work, clean, record and rehearse, too. 

Fall schedule – Have you seen the fall schedule for worship, learning and vision events?  So much inspiration and effort has been happening to keep Knox nourished and connected to our community, even in this pandemic.  Thank you to Rev. Richard for a lively and relevant sermon series, and for planning a timely reading group.  Thank you to our Worship staff for planning a meaningful and safe return to worship.  Thank you to Tracy for keeping Instrumental Measures and Curated & Curious at the forefront! 

Return to worship – While we may not speed towards resuming in-person worship, our Worship team is working in collaboration with our Web and AV teams to discern how worship will look when it restarts.  AV training is a big part of prep, as you can imagine.  In addition, we have some work on the sanctuary to finish, such as painting the flower room and filling in pew bolt holes on the concrete floor.  Pandemic-wise, the congregation expressed a desire to return to worship slowly and safely (in our fall survey).  To well-manage our own timelines and stress levels, we will continue to generally aim for an Advent reopening.  But please watch this space for any news.

Speaking of the congregational survey, we will announce a date shortly to look at the survey results with the congregation, discuss what it all means, and share how our feelings about the pandemic are evolving, even as the cold and flu season advances.

My gosh this is a lot for a small congregation.  And yet your willingness to pitch in, whether through hands-on work, discernment, communication, patience, faith, financial gifts, encouragement and prayers, all goes a long way to fulfilling our Vision.  Thank you one and all.

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


August 21, 2021

   They say pictures are worth a thousand words so please take a peek at this week’s pics of what a small mighty group has accomplished! THANK YOU to every single person who helped us get ready for our long awaited construction.

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


August 7, 2021

   THANK YOU to every single person who helped to empty the Fellowship Centre.  It’s truly incredible what a team of people can accomplish when they share a common goal (having an urgent timeline doesn’t hurt either!).


Part 2 of our project is underway, with changes being made in the Church Building to prepare it for its many new uses.  I’ll look forward to updating you with any news on that topic, and on the development project, when I’m back from a short holiday next week.


In the meantime, don’t forget the Wayfarer Art Exhibition at Knox on August 14 from Noon to 5, rain or shine.
Help live out our vision by supporting artists in our community!

Stay safe everyone. 
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


July 28, 2021

   My apologies for letting a few days slip by without an update.  Here is the latest news from around Knox, and the first update is perhaps the most important:

MASK WEARING IS STILL REQUIRED BY KNOX POLICY

   The last Knox policy set on mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing has not changed, despite government regulations relaxing. Please continue to wear a mask in the buildings and social distance unless you are working completely alone in a space. While you may have received 2 vaccines, others have had 1 or even none. COVID-19 is still transmissible after 2 vaccines, and we MUST protect the health-vulnerable among us. This includes our own staff and congregants. Note, this policy will be reviewed at the Board’s August meeting but until a change is announced, the policy stands. Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and cooperation!

   The HomeStart Foundation took almost all Fellowship Centre furniture this week that was not allocated to move to our new building. HomeStart acts as a support organization to charities that help people rebuild their lives – women and children escaping from domestic violence, families and individuals who have been homeless, people with mental and physical disabilities, and refugee families. A wonderful new life for our old furniture! A big thank you is due to Will B and Finn B, Mary G’s grandsons, who have been by to help move tables and chairs from the Fellowship Centre to the church building. Big thanks to Laura B and her van, too, aa she will be working with Anne M to remove any remaining items that can be donated. A junk removal company will pick up anything remaining behind. We’re almost there, folks!!! Alan M and Anne M have been absolutely instrumental in keeping everything moving smoothly (and with minimal stress!) as this part of our project rolls to a crescendo. Richard D is up to his shoulders in small F&PM-type projects and repairs, and Ed W has been leading the charge on making sure our Wi-Fi systems will support us for the next 2 years. Josie is juggling all sorts of details, handling non-standard admin work to keep the bills paid and the service providers flowing. If you have a free moment, why not send each of them a virtual hug by email? They are truly super heros.

   The Board approved a Use of Space plan at our last meeting, which was proposed by the Worship Team. HUGE work and careful thought went into this plan, and we are profoundly grateful to everyone who took part in discussions on how best to use our church building. The biggest changes you’ll notice when we return to the space:
• Back rows of pews removed to create a configurable space for coffee time, meeting space, rentals, etc.
• Chapel pews removed to create a hybrid worship / meeting / gathering space.
• There will be a few practical changes made in the Vestry to make it functional as a temporary admin space until we receive City of Vancouver approval to put a portable office on our front lawn.

DATES OF NOTE:
July 29 – Say a little prayer and send some good energy to Rev. Richard, our Communications team, and our Staff as they begin to test our new AV and Wi-Fi systems for event and worship live streaming!

Aug 1 – 9 – The Knox Office will be CLOSED for drop-in visits. Please contact Josie by email or phone only or to book an appointment.

Aug 6 & 7 – These are moving & storage days. Telus will also be on site to set up secure, private Wi-Fi in the church building. To reduce stress, please – no one on site apart from Paul O. Please also note that the parking lot will be closed as of Aug 6.

Aug 8 – Say goodbye! Knox congregants, friends, neighbours, family members, and renters will be welcome to take a last walk through the building and sign the gym wall. Anne M will oversee a COVID-safe process for touring the facility. The visits will be on a first-come, first served basis. Please watch for further news and details.

And finally, we are expecting the first draft of a revised contract between Knox and Hon Towers imminently. Please watch this space for updates!

Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan.


July 12, 2021

   I had the privilege of visiting the Fellowship Centre today (Monday, July 12), and my gosh, so much work has been done.  To see it all firsthand was fantastic.  HUGE thanks to everyone who has helped with the great cleanout of 2021.  Phenomenal work!   And a big thanks especially to Anne M, who has been our eyes, ears and organizer onsite.  Anne, you are one super-organized and very talented individual!!

Quick notes:

               Rip & Stitch have done amazing work cleaning out their cupboards.  A large donation of leftover fabric and notions will be made to Our Social Fabric in Vancouver.

               The Kitchen appliances have been bought and will be removed before demolition.  Thank you, Don Bliss!  And the kitchen items which are no longer needed will be donated.  We hope to book a pick-up for next week.  A junk removal service has been booked also, for July 16th.

               Have you written on the gym wall yet?  Please drop by the Fellowship Centre on weekday mornings if you’d like to include a note in memory of our intrepid and sturdy building.  You can call ahead to make sure someone will be there to let you in.  Masks are required, please, but please feel welcome to bring any friends or family members who may also like to leave a note or their autograph on the wall.

               Richard D, Larry T and Paul have been working so hard to get the gym storage and other storage areas cleaned out.  Thank you, all three, for your dedicated work.  A new mailbox (secure) will be installed near the Chapel entrance door very soon, too.  And finally, a dying rhododendron at the northwest corner of the church building will be removed so we can relocate the outdoor metal storage shed to a safe and out-of-the-way location.

  In other news, the Worship Team has done a fantastic job drafting proposed amendments to the Church building spaces to accommodate us while we are in construction.  The Board will review the proposals this week, and we hope to start making some changes once the Fellowship Centre clean-out is done.               

  I’ve saved the best for last, so I hope you’ve read this far!  The biggest news of all this week is that our Memorandum of Understanding with Hon Towers has been fully executed! (signed).  This clears the way for our Lawyers to begin working on the revised Legal Contract with Hon.  Please stand by for news on this contract.

COVID-19 is still with us – Visiting or working at Knox?  Please care for the health needs of people who have been vaccinated once or not at all — or are immune compromised.  Proper mask wearing of is appreciated, along with continuing to wash your hands and maintain social distance from people outside your household.  The Board will meet in July to discuss how Knox’s policies will look as we prepare to re-open.

Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


July 4, 2021

Fellowship Centre – Big progress continues to be made in every nook and cranny of the building.  Thank you everyone who has been part of this project to date, and a big extra shout out this week to Mary B, Mary G, Larry T, Anne M, Josie B, Richard D, Joanne M, and Sydney M.  You’ve done (and are doing) fantastic work.

Mailbox – Richard D is working with Josie on a relocation of the mailbox.  Security, function, and esthetics are all big considerations for this project. 

You’ll be able to see the results once the new mailbox is in place.

Wi-Fi – Rev. Richard and Ed W are fine-tuning the Wi-Fi system in the sanctuary.  This will support our future aspirations for live streaming, as well as admin work that may need to occur in the building.  “What IS live streaming, really”, you may ask?  Please stand by – we’re working on a learning opportunity, and will keep you advised.

Use of Space – The Worship team is working on an initial proposal for how we can make good use of our underutilized church building spaces during and after the construction project.  We hope to have more news for the congregation on this topic soon.

Restart – Thank you to those who joined in a discussion at last Sunday’s coffee time on the topic of “Restarting – excited & nervous”.  There’s a lot to consider as we start planning our return to worship — from variants and vaccinations to social time and singing.  Listening and discernment will help us make the best plan possible to suit as many needs of the congregation, staff, renters, and guests as we can.  And on that note…

A Small Rental – The Board, with feedback from Mary G and Josie, have agreed to rent the sanctuary to VanArts for a 3-hour class in July.  This is a photography class, vision-oriented, and helpful way for us to test our restart wings.  There will only be 5 people present.  The small scale of the rental will help us learn and adjust to restarting.  Better still, the sanctuary will be empty around the date, with SummerSpirit in full swing and many Knox staff off on a well-deserved break.

Legal Stuff – As Alan M was on a short break this past week, we don’t have any contract news this week.  Please watch for an update soon.

COVID-19 is still with us – Visiting or working at Knox?  Please care for the health needs of people who have been vaccinated once, not at all, are nervous, &/or are immune compromised.  Proper mask wearing of is appreciated, along with continuing to wash your hands and maintain social distance from people outside your household.  The Board will meet in July to discuss how Knox’s policies will look as the provincial restrictions ease.

Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan


June 27, 2021

Fellowship Centre – There aren’t enough thanks yous in the world for Mary B and Mary G, who have completely emptied out the kitchen!  Every item has been carefully chosen for storage or to be given away, and the items needed in our new building have been boxed up for long-term storage.  A huge job out of the way.

Office Space – Alan, Josie and Rev. Richard had a look at some office space in Kerrisdale this past week, but unfortunately, it’s not quite right for our needs.  Alan has also spoken to our Contractor about procuring an office trailer for the front lawn.  Watch this space for further updates as they happen! 

Contract –Alan advises that Hon Towers and their lawyer are ready to work on an amended contract!  This is the logical next step following the signing of the amended Memorandum of Understanding. 

Restarting – I met with the Worship Team and some of our staff-members this past week.  We had a preliminary — very high-level — discussion about restarting in-person worship (our excitement and concerns).  Our goal is to offer a SAFE hybrid worship service – in-person and livestream — in order to serve both our local congregants and those who have joined us from more remote locations during the pandemic.  Pacific Mountain has dedicated an expert on hybrid worship to work with congregations on their new worship models, of which the Worship Team will take full advantage.  The Worship team will spend some time discussing and developing a draft restart plan for worship, with the Board offering resources, feedback, etc. as needed.  Whatever date is chosen for restarting could be subject to change, based on the pandemic and based on our own capacity as a congregation.  We’ll keep you posted as work progresses.

Sanctuary Spaces – In this same meeting, we discussed the spaces in the sanctuary building — most of which are underutilized.  No decisions have been made, except that the Flower Room could be upgraded to make it more practical for Worship, beverage service and renter use.   The Worship Team will shortly provide the Board with a written wishlist for the room, which will then be fine-tuned by Mary G and the Board.  Again, please watch this space for any news.

COVID-19 is still with us – Everyone working in the Fellowship Centre is expected to follow posted COVID-19 protocols and government regulations.  It is a workplace, and as such, is governed by the policies WorkSafe BC.  Plus, we need to keep each other safe while we learn the health implications of a post-pandemic, incompletely vaccinated world.  Thank you for your cooperation!

Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan

June 21, 2021

Fellowship Centre – Thank you to everyone who has been rolling up their sleeves to work in the Fellowship Centre!  Lots of progress was made this past week at emptying out the closets, cupboards, cabinets, credenzas and corners.  If you would like to drop by and see what freebee items are up for grabs, please book a time and day by contacting Josie or Anne M by using the Contact Us Form

Piano Plan – 88 x 4 is a lot of keys!  A thoughtful and practical plan is complete for both downsizing and re-positioning Knox’s various pianos (our thanks to Colleen, Mary G, Anne M and our tuner, Gordon Walkinshaw).  By the time the new building opens, we will have said farewell to the Lounge piano.  The Chapel and Room 1 pianos will be relocated, and then relocated again.  The plan considers our Vision, and handles the needs of our current and future spaces, congregational life, and renters.   

Storage –Alan has secured some initial secure storage space for Knox.  Located at about 41st and Oak, it’s a space about the size of the storage bin in the Fellowship Centre gym – and we know how much that space can hold.  We envision that this space will be used for storing items we might need easy access to during construction.  More on storage in the coming days…

Thrift Sale 2021 – Did you read that correctly?  Yes!  Big thanks to Sydney and Anne M. for clearing out the Boutique closet in the Preschool room.  Everything was sold to an antique store, and the result was $550 in Knox’s Bank account.  We appreciate every donation received last year before the pandemic arrived and brought an end to our Thrift Sale 2020 plans.  

Office Space – We are working on a plan to place portable office trailer on the front lawn of the sanctuary for the duration of the construction project.  This will allow our staff to come and go easily, as they have been used to in the past.  While the visuals may be unappealing, consider that the whole area will be a construction site.  This will just be one part of the overall visual disruption.  It won’t last forever.  And in the meantime, if an ideal office space presents itself right nearby, we will definitely have a look at it.  Josie will be in touch with Canada Post to talk about relocating the church’s mailbox.

Meeting Spaces, Sanctuary Spaces – The Board had a high-level discussion this past week about Sanctuary space, and how it might be best utilized during and after the construction project.  The consensus is that the spaces in the church building are largely underutilized, and that our Vision should be at the forefront of any short or long-term changes.  The Board agreed that no changes should be made without broad consultation, beginning with the Worship Team (a meeting is scheduled later this week).  Josie will check in with the insurance company this week to find out what types of changes can be made and will still be covered by our insurance.

COVID-19 is still with us – Everyone working in the Fellowship Centre is expected to follow posted COVID-19 protocols and government regulations.  It is a workplace, and as such, is governed by the policies WorkSafe BC.  Plus, we need to keep each other safe while we learn the health implications of a post-pandemic, incompletely vaccinated world. 

Thank you for your cooperation!
Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan

June 13, 2021

Fellowship Ctr – Packing is underway, even without being able to find a Moving Organizer to join us.  Please follow News & Notes for opportunities to pick up books or other unneeded items from the building.

It’s important to reiterate once again how important it is to follow current COVID-19 protocols if you are in the Fellowship Centre working.  It is a workplace and as such, governed by the policies WorkSafe BC.  We need to keep our staff safe, and it would be very upsetting to have an outbreak in the building now, when safety is so much closer.  Many haven’t had a first or second vaccine yet, and it’s important to continue caring for one another.

Legal Stuff – Thank you to the Trustees, who are in the process of executing on a Crane & Shoring Agreement to support the work which will be done on our site.  The insurance value of the sanctuary has been doubled as part of this process.  What this all mean?  Well, just take it as a sign that we’re moving even closer to a demolition date. 

Office Space – We are working on a plan to place portable office trailer on the front lawn of the sanctuary for the duration of the construction project.  This will allow our staff to come and go easily, as they have been used to in the past.  While the visuals may be unappealing, consider that the whole area will be a construction site.  This will just be one part of the overall visual disruption.  It won’t last forever.  And we’ll also be keeping our eyes peeled for office space within quick walking distance of the sanctuary.

Preschool – If you haven’t heard the good news, our preschool has been fully licensed and approved to move to Kerrisdale Presbyterian for the next 2 years.  Yippee!

Sanctuary Space – This Thursday, the Board will meet to talk, among other things, about how the sanctuary space might be used during (and after) our construction project.  It’s understood that some of you are keen to get organizing the space, but we do need to take a planful approach to this.  As you can tell from the above topics, many Knox leaders are still working on earlier stages of the project.  Since we are participating in Summer Spirit, we won’t need to worry about a return to the sanctuary until at least the fall, which the Board will also discuss this week.  Please listen for updates on how you can participate and help with making the sanctuary a vision-driven, functional, and holy space in the coming weeks.

Bookkeeper – I’m pleased to announce Jeannie, will be joining us as our new Bookkeeper!  We are grateful to Robyn, our retiring bookkeeper, and not just for her hard work.  She also recommended Jeannie to join Knox!  Jeannie will not only keep the books, but will be working closely with the Finance Team and Josie to update and upgrade our financial systems this year.  This will help Knox not only during construction, but also provide a better financial platform from which to grow into our vision and mission in the future.

Gym Signature Wall – Colleen has set up a signing wall in the Fellowship Centre.  If you’re in the building to do sorting work, please consider autographing the gym wall — or write down a favourite memory!  If you just want to drop by, or even bring a friend or family member with you who has fond memories of the building, please email or call Josie to book a time.  We’ll be photographing names and stories for an archive that will travel with us to the new building.

Until next week…
Susan, Knox Board Chair

If you have a question or would like a topic to be addressed in this weekly update, please message Susan