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This article was published 20/1/2011 (3218 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A large West End church will soon be home to a 24-unit apartment complex that will ensure its survival.
St. Matthew's Anglican Church on Maryland Street, which can seat more than 1,000 people, measures Sunday service attendance in the dozens.
For years, its congregation has been praying to turn the church into a multi-use building that would include a housing component. It appears those prayers have been answered.
The three levels of government will hold a news conference Monday morning to unveil a $4.9-million affordable-housing initiative, supported by $2.2 million in tax dollars.
"It's a really awesome project," a government source said Thursday, adding the apartment units will range from one to four bedrooms in size.
A non-profit corporation will operate the building and lease space to the tenants, which will include the five congregations that now operate out of the imposing red-brick structure. The church is also home to several community groups and social agencies that operate from its 12,000-square-foot basement.
Cathy Campbell, St. Matthew's rector since 2003, declined comment Thursday.
However, in a video posted on the church's website, Campbell said the project is necessary for St. Matthew's and its community programs to survive.
"There's a desperate need for affordable rental housing in this neighbourhood, especially quality, safe housing for families," she said.
Four other congregations meet at the church — Grain of Wheat Church Community, Shiloh Apostolic, Emmanuel Mission and the Lutheran urban ministry.
The church, originally built in 1913, was largely destroyed by fire in 1944. It was rebuilt after the Second World War and reconsecrated in 1947.
Several aging Winnipeg churches with dwindling congregations have been sold in recent years.
Worshippers at St. Matthew's are giving up control of the building but will conduct services there in a smaller space more suited to congregational size.
Jino Distasio, director of the University of Winnipeg's Institute for Urban Studies, praised the redevelopment.
"It's a good, creative use of an existing structure that really is too big or doesn't meet the needs of what people want today," he said.
Other city churches have also been converted to multi-use facilities, he said, including Crossways in Common, built on the footprint of the old Young United Church on Broadway, which was destroyed by fire several years ago.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.