Langford Lutheran church closed to make way for seniors complex

Pastor Phillip Washeim sits in an empty Lutheran Redeemer church in Langford which has closed it
Pastor Phillip Washeim sits in an empty Lutheran Redeemer church in Langford which has closed it's doors for good in January. It's not clear when, but the building will be torn down to make way for a new church in a seniors assisted-living complex.
— image credit: Arnold Lim/News staff

The pews of Redeemer Lutheran Church have emptied for the last time.

Once swelling with the sound of the hymns and prayers behind stained glass windows, silence now fills the church after pastor Phillip Washeim delivered his final sermon on Jan. 15.

After 50 years of service at the corner of Jacklin Road and Jenkins Avenue, the aging church was decommissioned to make way for a residential seniors complex. A new Lutheran Church attached to the building is part of that project.

“There is sadness at the closing of the building. There is a lot of history here, a lot of people had their kids baptized and grow up here,” Washeim said. “They are attached to the building yet they are excited about the possibilities of the new building.”

Langford rezoned the 0.6 hectare property in August 2010 to allow a six-storey, 158-unit assisted living complex, built by Hayworth Communities, with a new and larger church space attached.

Building seniors assisted living was broadly supported by Langford council and many community members, although a few nearby neigbours expressed dismay at a six-storey structure sitting astride single family homes.

Washeim said a possible 2012 opening has been pushed back to 2013 at the earliest. He’s not sure when the church will be torn down, but the altar will be saved for the new church, although a controversial Christ statue won’t.

Retired Lutheran reverend Mark Beiderwieden, who is advising the Redeemer church on the project, said the process to sell the church property to Hayworth Communities, among other contractual issues, has been long and complicated, but the development is moving forward.

For the new church, Redeemer will purchase a strata lot in the new building with money used from the sale of its land, Beiderwieden said.

“With a project this size, you’ve got to be patient,” he said. “The congregation is looking forward to this. People are looking forward to the next stage.”

Hayworth Communities declined to provide any update to the $26-million project.

In the meantime, Washeim and many of the church members convene at the Alexander Mackie Lodge, where they worship patiently until their new church is reborn.

It’s a nice break from the sagging A-frame building with thin windows, little heat and that drew about 40 hearty souls to the Sunday sermon.

“We have had some delays, (but) we are excited to be moving forward,” Warsheim said. “I have been here nine and a half years ... I am looking forwards to the final building and look forward to all the possibilities it has for us.”

—with files from Edward Hill



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