A Dramatic Church Reinvention

The Salvation Army has a long history of ministering to the poor and vulnerable. As societal issues have evolved, the Salvation Army has continuously reinvented itself to better address these shifts. The Bethany Hope Centre is a dramatic demonstration of such reinvention.

The original building was constructed in 1968 as a Salvation Army Church to serve Ottawa’s rapidly growing west end community. Typical of its time, its architecture defined a walled sanctuary isolated from the world outside. By 2009, demographic changes had led the Salvation Army to relocate the congregation and to re-purpose the building to serve the hands-on programs of the Bethany Hope Centre with its ministry focus of low income young couples and single moms and dads.

The Salvation Army Church as found in 2011

The building interior was reworked around a large, welcoming reception centre complete with cafe, internet stations and a children’s play area. The open reception counter acts a gate keeper providing clients with directions to counselling, health care, child care, continuing education and support service programs within the facility.

The change in use and attitude has been expressed on the outside with a new glassy entrance extension that both floods the interior with light and provides greater visibility of the life within.

The former sanctuary has been reduced in size and converted to a multi-purpose room that acts at times as a gym, dining hall, meeting space and place of worship. 

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