Three years after a storm damaged their roof, parishioners of a downtown church can feel the winds of change blowing through their congregation.
For the next three months, the people of All Saints Church will be adjusting their worship times and getting used to new surroundings as they worship at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Osborne Village while construction workers take over their building.
"We’re figuring out a way to make this work because we cannot be in the building while this (renovation) happens," Rev. Brent Neumann says of the temporary move out of All Saints Anglican Church, located at the corner of Broadway and Osborne Street.
The $500,000 project includes replacing shingles, repairing water damage on the plaster walls and repainting the interior of the 500-seat sanctuary. Scaffolding went up last month inside the 93-year-old late Gothic Revival-style church, totally blocking access to the worship space until early August, Neumann says.
The renovations coincide with a three-month study leave for Rev. Paul Lampman of St. Luke’s, so Neumann will serve as the priest for both parishes, which will worship together and function as one congregation.
Both groups have an average Sunday attendance of about 90 people.
Lampman says it won’t be a huge adjustment for his parish to share space with All Saints, since the two parishes have similar worship styles and music. The organists from the two churches will alternate Sundays during the next three months.
"We’re just being the body of Christ together," he says of the joint services.
The other Anglican congregation that worships at All Saints on Sunday evenings has moved temporarily to Elim Chapel at 546 Portage Ave. because the congregation wanted to stay in the West Broadway neighbourhood, says Rev. Jamie Howison of St. Benedict’s Table.
"We want to be in a place that looks like a sacred space," he says of Elim Chapel, constructed in 1903 and rebuilt after a fire in 1974.
Howison’s great-grandfather Sidney T. Smith purchased the former St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in 1927 so Elim Chapel could relocate from its Ellice Avenue meeting space, now home to the West End Cultural Centre.
Although All Saints and St. Luke’s are both dealing with declining attendance and aging buildings, combining the parishes permanently is not being discussed right now, Neumann says.
He says All Saints feels called to serve the West Broadway neighbourhood, and that any move to combine parishes would be made by the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
"People devoted their lives to having parishes in these buildings and they love them," he says. "And the thought of losing them is very painful."
But saving congregations remains more important that retaining buildings, says Anglican Bishop Geoffrey Woodcroft, who decommissioned three church buildings since taking office in November.
"My job as bishop is to open people’s hearts and minds to having dreams together," he says of his strategy for future development. "I’m asking questions about the health of the community because I start asking questions about the building."
Neumann says that’s also his priority, and the reason his congregation partnered with the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation’s UWCRC 2.0 in a proposal to redevelop the west side of All Saints’ property into a 110-unit apartment building, named West Broadway Commons.
At least half of the apartments would be affordable housing, and the complex would include common spaces such as a kitchen, gym, multi-purpose room and a space for smudging.
All Saints’ church hall, constructed in 1964, will be demolished to make room for West Broadway Commons.
Neumann says the proposed development allows All Saints to continue its ministry in the neighbourhood, and the parish has already raised $500,000 for the project.
"We’re trying to ensure that people who have always lived in the area can continue to live here," he says of the building project, which has been in the planning stages for several years.
Information posted about West Broadway Commons on the corporation’s website says construction is scheduled to begin this year, with a 2020 completion date. But financial agreements have not yet been finalized and the organization is under a non-disclosure agreement until contracts are signed, says Marcella Poirier, chief development officer of the corporation.
"We are limited as to the level of detail we can provide to you at this time to remain in compliance with our funders and not jeopardize our progress," she writes in an email.
Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.