Churbans – my word for urban churches


I’ve made up a word, at least spell-check seems to tell me so, to call urban churches – churbans.

These pictures, one of Church of the Redeemer (Anglican/Episcopal), in the heart of Toronto’s trendy Yorkville area and tucked in the corner of an office-retail building, and the other of the newly face-lifted St. James United Church in Montreal’s downtown.

(For a look at before and after pictures of St. James, check out the

article in the Montreal Gazette.)


As I walked towards St. James, during a stopover in Montreal last September, the sight of the building’s steeples and striking façade took my breath away – after seeing the drab storefronts for as long as I could remember.Interestingly, these congregations – like my own – are very involved in their local communities in ways far greater than just being places of worship.

My own congregation,

Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, is studying the idea of becoming a ‘Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts’. We are home to many social justice groups, which rent space, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chorus whose performances and rehearsal space rentals pay a significant part of the building’s operating costs. They are very eager for a major retro-fitting and the multi-use facility, in what is designated a heritage building, is already a reality but, all agree, needs to be updated and restored to be more environmentally-friendly.

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