On Saturday morning, I escape from work for an hour to go visit a church I had noticed the night before, as I was pacing St Catherine Street up and down looking for food. St-James United Church is a national historic site of Canada and a Quebec religious heritage building. The church was hidden behind commercial buildings for 70 years before they were finally demolished in 2006. The church was thereafter opened to St Catherine, in the heart of Montreal, and came to life again.
Even as an atheist, I enjoy visiting places of worship, temples, churches or mosques. Some are beautiful work of art. Some make me understand why people believe, and why they find peace in these places. As I explained before, I can’t stand proselytism—but I hope I’m open-minded enough to accept that religion isn’t always the root of all evils, even though some people use it as an excuse to spread hate and intolerance.
I was greeted at the entrance of the church by Rob Bull, the Supervising elder. When I asked him if I could take some pictures, he decided to give me the grand tour and took me upstairs where I could enjoy the overview of the inside of the church. He commented on many of the stained window, explaining that one of them was actually made by a Turkish artist in Montreal, a practising Muslim. He was proud to tell me that the church welcomed everyone, and added that many Jewish and Muslims came to pray as lunch time because they didn’t have the time to make it to their respective places of worship. “Everyone is welcome here,” he said, “no matter what you believe in and how you interpret your faith. We do not judge.”
This church certainly gave me a great impression: lovely building, amazing art inside and a congregation that seemed friendly and open-minded. Definitely worth a visit!