September 10

‘A blessed relationship’

Ballet school and church come together in unique relationship

David and Karen Beales are putting the final touches on their new home office in Vic West.

The wood floors have been beautifully restored, chandeliers grace the high ceilings and a 13-metre mirror runs the length of the vast open-concept space.

But what makes the Beales’ home unique isn’t just that it’s a 122-year-old heritage building, or even that it houses their self-run ballet school.

Perhaps the most curious aspect is that it’s also a church, which the Beales will soon share with a previously nomadic Anglican congregation.

“We were looking around at houses and we stumbled across the Anglican Diocese list of churches, and we realized it would cost us the same amount to mortgage a house and lease a commercial space as it would to buy one of the church properties,” David said.

In order to respect the history of the building, which was established in 1891 as an army garrison church, the Beales came to an agreement with St. Mark’s Traditional Anglican and Rev. Stanley Sinclair.

Sinclair and his congregation have been without a permanent home since 2010, and had, until recently, been using the Orange Hall in Fernwood for their weekly services.

“They’re traditional Anglicans and they follow all the things that used to be done here 120 years ago,” Karen said.

The arrangement with the Beales will provide a much-needed home base and the opportunity for growth, Sinclair said.

“We’ve been building up to the point where we’re outgrowing the Orange Hall. The result is we have a very ideal situation short of owning the property,” he said.

The church will officially reopen Sunday (Sept. 16) at 10:30 a.m. with a Prayer Book Holy Eucharist, commemorating the Battle of Britain.

On Sept. 22 and 23, ordination of the deacon and rededication ceremonies will take place, followed by a family Sunday celebration Sept. 30.

The Beales’ Maple Leaf School of Ballet opened Sept. 10 and runs beginner to advanced classes for children and adults. David’s professional training in Russian ballet creates a unique offering in the city, he said.

The couple hopes to rent out the space for weddings and other community events in the future as well, pending a rezoning application with the City of Victoria.

“We are very happy to have (St. Mark’s) here because the building should be used as a place of worship as well,” Karen said.

“It works well to have them here, and it’s a very, very blessed relationship.”

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