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New chapter begins for Victoria Truth Centre

Church settles into new home after previous site caught in controversy

The Victoria Truth Centre wants the community to know it’s open and at peace now that the controversy over the redevelopment of its former Rockland grounds has ended.

The church has relocated to a 1914 former Lutheran church at 2815 Cedar Hill Rd. With the money from the sale of its former 1.8-acre site in Rockland, church officials believe it can begin anew.

Linda Cain, a lifelong member of the Victoria Truth Centre and now a board member, said the new church space is smaller. But Cain said it will suit the congregation and its mission of positive affirmation summed up in its motto: “Live life lovingly.”

“I was able to get a nice warm feeling the first time I walked into this church,” Cain said. “You can feel this church was built with love.”

She said that mission of truth, positive thinking and love made it very painful to watch the year-long controversy as Abstract Developments went through hearings and public meetings to get city permission to build its proposed 83-unit condomiminium/ townhome project on its former church site.

The Victoria Truth Centre sold the land in 2017 and had nothing to do with it afterward. But every news story over the rezoning and development controversy would identify the land as “the Victoria Truth Centre.”

“It was hard,” Cain said. “But you can’t hang on to all that negative energy, all you could do is hope the developer would make the best decisions.”

“We didn’t own it anymore,” she said. “All we could do was hope and pray for the best.”

The Victoria Truth Centre was formed in 1934 when the New Thought and Unity Churches amalgamated.

Cain said it was founded as a non-denominational centre for spiritual enlightenment, one, she believes, has always been ahead of its time. For example, women served as ministers as far back as the 1940s.

Also, the Victoria Truth Centre has reached across the broad spectrum of faiths and beliefs, always searching for messages of positive human thought and love, regardless of religious or cultural identity.

It bought its former Rockland site in 1948 and managed to establish a well-attended, forward-thinking group.

One of its earlier and most standout ministers, Rev. Emma Smiley, held a special place for children who even had their own separate church on the property. Towering trees and meadows made for a special place for picnics and outdoor gatherings and play.

At its height in the late 1960s and 1970s, the Victoria Truth Centre had as many as 200 parishioners. But now only about 20 attend the weekly Sunday service, one of the main reasons the former site was sold.

But not everything from the old site was abandoned or lost.

In the new church, Cain pointed to a wooden podium, a stone statue of a gull, a wooden plinth carved with dogwood flowers, a carved collection bowl and a grand piano perfectly suited to the acoustics of the new church, all brought from the former Rockland site.

“We brought everything we possibly could,” she said. “We wanted to bring those parts of the church that were lovingly made for us.”

As a final gesture of love and gratitude, a parishioner has promised to reclaim wood from one of the trees on the old site, a giant sequoia, and furnish it into something useful and lovely.

Cain said now that the controversy has died down, the Victoria Truth Centre can settle into its new space for worship. Already it seems to be attracting congregants who recall going to the old location years ago and are intrigued by the new building.

Also, the Victoria Truth Centre is now on good financial footing with the proceeds of its former site in the bank. (The property was listed at close to $7 million.)

It plans reconfigure some of its activities into something of foundation, matching funds raised in the community to support positive local, development projects. At the moment, Cain said the Truth Centre is assisting a group that sends young people to summer camps.

It’s part of a new mission Cain believes holds a lot of positive promise for the Victoria Truth Centre.

“We have the basis for a really strong future here,” she said.

“When you help someone they are more likely to help someone else and they help someone else and somehow you get world peace,” she said.

To learn more about the Victoria Truth Centre and its services go online to victoriatruthcentre.com.

rwatts@timescolonist.com