You could say the congregation of St. Anne’s Anglican Church has really moved up in the world over the years.
From a parishioner’s home to a real estate office to a subterranean hall, those congregants now start their days of worship by marching up a series of ramps to an immaculate sanctuary, light pouring through pristine stained glass.
The church marks its centennial in 2013, and centennial committee member Arlene Egerton says preparations have already begun.
"It’s almost like a family reunion. I think that’s the exciting part," says Egerton, a parishioner of 20 years.
For the centennial, the church will be holding a short service on Sept. 27 commemorating the church’s formation. Bishop Donald Phillips is to attend and, they hope, so will Archdeacon Godfrey Mawejje. A celebratory dinner and dance is set for Sept. 28 at Garden City Community Centre, and there will be an anniversary Eucharist service and luncheon the following day.
There are also two time capsules embedded into the church which will be opened this summer.
But before that, a concert is planned for May, its date still to be determined. Egerton said popular gospel artist Steve Bell has confirmed he will perform.
St. Anne’s was started as a mission in 1912, its first service held in the home of Winnipegger C.E. Cook, its sermon preached by Reverend Canon Murray.
They later moved the service to the office of Knight’s Real Estate on Main St., and by 1913 they were big enough to form their own parish. They were able to build a wooden parish hall on the north side of the current church’s location at 253 Burrin Ave.
But they grew still. Their next location was a bit less obvious.
"They built what you call a ‘basement church,’" Egerton explains.
That below-ground hall formed the basis of what would eventually become the current St. Anne’s. The "upper church" as Egerton calls it, was built in 1954.
At its peak, St. Anne’s saw an average crowd of between 150 and 200 people. However, like many churches today, it’s congregation is dwindling. These days, between 35 and 40 souls come out for the service. That’s led to a drop in volunteer base, meaning they’ve had to make choices as to what services are offered.
"Every year you have to find ways to do it with less," Egerton said.
Over the years, the church has opened its doors to the 38th Scouts, and is currently in talks to host a local Beavers group as well. They also have a long history of collaboration with other churches. While some of its offerings remain, including a free movie night, and its yearly Gala Anna Fair, others, like its bowling and curling leagues, have gone by the wayside.
Egerton says there’s been talk of merging with nearby St. Barnabas or St. Martin’s, but any decision on that is still "a long way off."
She ascribes the church’s longevity to "strong leadership" both among its leaders and volunteers.
"We’ve had good leaders and good volunteers who give up a lot of their personal time... They’re very respected in this community."
The ongoing support of its faithful congregants, she also says, has been crucial.
The centennial committee is looking for any photos and other memorabilia from the church’s past for inclusion in a history book being assembled for the centennial. To contribute, contact the church at 204-334-6753, call Egerton at 204-668-3413 or email email@example.com.