New Brunswick

Moncton church moving services to theatre

A Moncton church is moving services from the traditional church venue to a movie theatre. The move is being done because of dropping numbers in the church congregation.

Declining numbers in congregation behind change

A Moncton church is taking a new approach to Sunday service.

Visions United Church is moving out of its traditional church setting and into a movie theatre as traditional pews and pulpits are being traded for theatre seats and surround sound.

"It's a space that really says to people that we're a church who really wants to be open and accessible to anybody," said Visions United Church Minister Christine MacLeod. "You don't have to have a church background. You don't have to wear a suit and tie."

Members of the congregation are preparing for an inclusive and laid back approach to attending Sunday service.

Visions United Church recently formed from two churches seeing declining attendance. Changing venues is a means to modernize and change perceptions about going to church.

"They don't want to feel like they're being controlled," said Gregg Kennedy, the vice chair of the congregational leadership team. "Too often it's how much money are you bringing in, how many committees are you serving on, what volunteering are you going to do. And so we want to get away from all of that."

"You can just wear jeans, bring coffee, it's in a theatre, it's not in a big church, you don't have to be afraid," said Melissa Affleck. She plans on playing music at the new venue where a pipe organ will be replaced by the sound of African drums.

"It'll be really exciting to be playing music in a space like this. The acoustics are great, I'm sure it's going to sound phenomenal," said Affleck.

Choosing the movie theatre over the traditional church venue, also fills a void.

"We wanted to be in North Moncton where there was an absence of a church presence," said Kennedy. "And so we felt that people here, whether they have a church background or not, would have the opportunity to come to a spiritual gathering."

Details of the move from the church to the theatre are still being fine tuned.

The first church service inside the theatre is expected to be held Sunday, Nov. 4.