Shambhala Meditation Centre will move to 812 Stanley Street sometime in 2014.

Shambhala Meditation Centre to move into vacant church

The former Kootenay Christian Fellowship building will be renovated and reopen as Shambhala Meditation Centre sometime in 2014

The former Kootenay Christian Fellowship building on Stanley Street has a new owner.

Shambhala Meditation Centre, home to a Western Buddhism congregation, purchased the vacant church in October and has plans to renovate and reopen the space sometime in the New Year.

“It’s a big time for us and our community,” centre director Cameron Wenaus told 103.5 The Bridge. “We’re growing up; buying a building.”

The centre is currently located in a third-floor studio above Maison (previously Sonja’s China Cabinet) on Baker Street, but after 35 years of renting the same difficult-to-access spot the congregation decided it was time to branch out.

“We wanted to gain stability, so we could take our seat in the community properly,” Wenaus explained, noting he expects being more visible and accessible in the new building will lead to increased membership.

“It will be easier for people with mobility concerns …  and a much friendlier space towards families and small children,” Wenaus said of the future location.

Part of the renovation plans include adding a family room.

Shambhala Meditation Centre is part of a global network of more than 170 centres by the same name. A nonprofit organization, the local centre has a core group of about 50 dues-paying members that contribute to operational expenses.

More than 200 people each year frequent the centre for free public meditation, as well as a variety of workshops on the Buddhist teachings.

Kootenay Christian Fellowship put its church up for sale in the summer of 2012 after making the decision to move into a the Savoy Lanes building on Falls Street.

Pastor Jim Reimer was glad to finally take for For Sale sign down, knowing that the church would remain as a community gathering space.

“We have emotional attachment to the building,” Reimer said. “We’re glad a community group will use it … They’re not the same faith as us, but will certainly take care of it.”

The listing price for the Stanley Street property was $289,000.

— With files from Greg Nesteroff