Ralph Connor Memorial United Church

The Little White Church on Main Street, Canmore, Alberta


Since 2020, a number of forward-looking changes have been made to the Ralph Connor building:
sink installed upstairs to facilitate hand-washing;
video-camera link and choral microphone, to allow worshipers to gather in both the sanctuary and hall simultaneously with the same content;
freshly re-painted walls and re-finished floors in the sanctuary;
defibrillator installed; 

washrooms have been re-designated as single-occupant, all-genders-welcome.

Along with many congregations of The United Church of Canada, RCMUC endeavours to take seriously the impact of our “carbon footprint”. With the assistance of the “Faithful Footprints” program, many energy-conscious changes have been made since 2020:
new LED lighting has replaced fluorescents in Gordon Hall, offices and upstairs, and we have new Google Nest programmable thermostats; 

new, more efficient kitchen appliances (with thanks to Canmore Rotary for their assistance with this);
improved efficiency of our heating system, including insulated ductwork to the narthex and a heat recovery unit by our furnaces;
and… we installed solar panels on the south roof, in partnership with the Bow Valley Green Energy Cooperative.
Come see us on Saturday, June 25, 2022, anytime from noon to 5 PM – we are part of the Eco Solar home tour!

Here is a data view of the Solar Power being generated by our rooftop panels:

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A workshop to consider and further develop the preliminary building plan options for RCMUC – particularly, Gordon Hall – was held on February 23, 2020 after Worship and Lunch. Here are the documents referenced at this meeting.

Click here for the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church Mission Statement
Click here for the Consultation Report – detailing the 2019 survey results and the process to that point, and a follow-up report after the February 2020 workshop.
Click here for the Option Concept Plans – as developed in 2018 by Transept Architects.
Click here for two additional options – 1. renovating only the main floor of Gordon Hall and 2. moving the Church Offices upstairs.

Written submissions were received from a number of persons who were away/unable to attend this meeting.  A report based on the well-attended workshop, and these additional submissions, will be collated and further plans developed, once Church life returns to a more “normal” shape once the Pandemic has subsided.

And, as an additional point of reference: here is the BUILDING/HERITAGE COMMITTEE REPORT – as printed in the 2019 AGM Report, January 2020:

At last year’s annual meeting the congregation was presented with Concept Plans from Transept Architects. Earlier in 2018 after extensive consultations with the Church leadership and user groups Transept prepared a Programming and Visioning Report in May 2018. This was not a “bricks and mortar report”. The report set forth the broad vision of the Church focusing on the existing ministries of the Church. The report also highlighted the strengths of the Church building in fostering the vision and fulfilling its ministries and discussed what measures could be taken to address some of the challenges of the Church building. After a Town Hall meeting in June 2018, at which time the congregation provided feedback, a final report was prepared and posted for Council and the Congregation. Satisfied with this revised Programming and Visioning Report, Council retained Transept Architects to incorporate the findings into Concept Plans. The Concept Plans were developed and revised after consultation with this Committee. The Concept Plans can be found here. The Concept Plans will be referred to as Option Concept Plans.

Congregants expressed concern about the Concept Plans and wanted more discussion and input prior to the congregation committing itself to the next steps of the development of detailed construction drawings and a construction budget based on final revised Concept Plans. The Building Heritage Committee, “BHC”, undertook consultations with the Congregation through focus groups and a survey. The results of this consultation were reported in a preliminary report in September, 2019. Council instructed the BHC to add options reflecting the results of the consultation. A lengthy and detailed report was prepared and now can be found here. This report will be referred as the Consultation Report.

The Consultation Report concludes that nothing should be done at this time to the existing sanctuary. Rather, it concludes that any renovations be restricted to Gordon Hall. This Committee has distilled its conclusions into 2 different preliminary plans. Neither show any expansion of Gordon Hall. Option 1 only renovates the main floor of Gordon Hall. This option involves rebuilding of the bathrooms, a lift from Gordon Hall to the sanctuary and relocating the offices and kitchen. Option 1 can be found here.

Option 2 involves moving the Church Offices to the second floor and installation of an elevator with two stops, at the door into the sanctuary and at the second floor. This option would offer two meeting or gathering spaces on the main floor. Option 2 can also be found here.

In both Option 1 and Option 2 the rear wall of Gordon Hall would not be altered; thus allowing future expansion as envisaged by the Option Concept Plans.

The BHC needs the assistance of the entire congregation to resolve a fundamental tension found in the responses to the survey and the focus groups. 80 respondents to the survey answered the question about “what urgent renovations will need to be done even if we do not proceed with the Concept Plan.” 81% said “wheelchair accessibility” and 71% said “improved washroom facilities”. Another 65% chose “improved kitchen facility. And 58% chose “improved minister secretary access”. (Of interest, this was also strongly expressed in the focus groups as concern about workplace difficulties and frustrations experienced and expressed by the Minister and staff because of this inefficiency.) Furthermore, in the comments section of the survey, respondents urged expansion and reorganizing of the inefficient and inconvenient layout of offices and small meeting spaces.

There is a deep concern about financing. Of the 76 Respondents, 83% were concerned about “how we will pay for the expansion”.

So, there is tension between the recognition of some urgency in doing some renovations and how to pay for such renovations. This tension was also articulated in the focus groups.

This Committee will be holding a Workshop following worship and a soup and bun lunch on Sunday, February 23, 2020 to attempt to resolve this tension. We need each of you to take the time to read and digest the Consultation Report, critically review the Option Concept Plans as well as Option 1 and Option 2 and come with suggestions how to resolve this tension. We will break into table groups with an experienced facilitator to lead each table through a series of questions. We will have conservative estimates of the costs of the different possibilities. We hope that a clear path forward emerges or is emerging at the end of the workshop and that this Committee and Council are given clearer directions. We value your input.

Submitted by Ian Schofield.