June 2, 2020

Winnipeg
15° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

St. Matthew's: Doing the landlord's work

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/12/2010 (3446 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dr. Cathy Campbell, rector at St. Matthew's Anglican, notes that 85 per cent of the building's use is from Monday to Saturday. But organization and upkeep are a constant struggle.

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Dr. Cathy Campbell, rector at St. Matthew's Anglican, notes that 85 per cent of the building's use is from Monday to Saturday. But organization and upkeep are a constant struggle.

When it comes to finding creative uses for a church, St. Matthew's Anglican is one of the best and oldest examples.

The church, which has been ministering in the West End for more than 100 years, is home to five distinct congregations and nine community programs.

"Eighty-five per cent of the building's use is from Monday to Saturday," says the rector, Rev. Cathy Campbell, noting the church has been renting space to others for more than 40 years.

It's quite a change from the 1950s, when the building was more a traditional church structure -- used by only one congregation, and then mostly on Sundays only.

Sunday attendance hovers around 55 to 70 at St. Matthew's, which will become a tenant in its own building.

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Sunday attendance hovers around 55 to 70 at St. Matthew's, which will become a tenant in its own building.

But as membership in the once-thriving church began to decline and offerings fell, Campbell says the congregation asked itself: "Who are we, and what is the church in this community?"

The members decided that "if we don't exist for this neighbourhood, then we shouldn't exist," she says, adding they have "lived out of that mindset since then."

While being home to so many other groups is meaningful and invigorating, it's also challenging, Campbell notes. "It's hard to run a multi-faceted community centre," she says. "It takes a lot of time, effort and skill."

Add to that an aging building not designed for all this activity and it's easy to wear out the members and staff -- not just financially, but also in terms of human capacity.

"It's a huge commitment to be a landlord," Campbell says. "Not just the know-how, but also the time and finding volunteers."

With Sunday-morning attendance hovering between 55 and 70, and most of that small number over the age of 80, finding people who can keep the facility running is a daunting task.

And even if there were more members, "there aren't many people who want to put time into building management," says Campbell. "They want to come to worship or serve, not manage a building."

As a result, the congregation is doing something unique and perhaps unprecedented in Manitoba and even in Canada -- they're planning to transfer the church to a new government-supported non-profit housing association and become a tenant in their own building.

Sometime next year, St. Matthew's hopes to convert its sanctuary, which seats more than 1,000, to 24 affordable apartments. A new sanctuary will be created in the building and community groups will continue to operate their programs out of the lower level.

Is the change a "sign of failure or a sign of faithfulness?" asks Campbell. While there are losses, she believes it is the latter -- a sign of the church's commitment to continue to serve the community and be a "witness to our belief in simplicity, not only in our preaching, but in our buildings."

It's a question other churches should ask themselves, too, she says. "What is God calling you to do in your place, with your time and assets?"

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us