In their 60 years of ministry, St. Stephen & St. Bede have learned the essence of the Lund principle that churches should act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act differently.
On May 3, the Church of St. Stephen and St. Bede, 99 Turner Avenue in Winnipeg, celebrated over 60 years of sharing in the Gospel in Silver Heights. Today, the faith communities of St. Stephen Lutheran and St. Bede Anglican share in worship together on Sunday mornings with a common liturgy.
“The two faith communities, Anglican and Lutheran, have become one family under the same roof,” explained Dr. Murray Still, who serves half time as incumbent and pastor of St. Stephen and St. Bede. He also serves as incumbent of St. James Anglican on Collegiate Street in Winnipeg.
“Actually, we have returned to our roots,” noted Still, “as St. James shared its pastor, the Rev. Morse Goodman, with St. Bede’s Anglican when they first started in ministry in the rectory that was built before the actual church structure.” Under the Rev. Gordon Gardiner the first services in the present building were held in the hall Oct. 4, 1959. The hall was completed in 1960. In early 1964 the cornerstone of the church proper was laid and on April 27 that year the church was opened to the congregation.
The two churches shared the pastor until the first rector was hired and over time the church was constructed. In those early years, the Rev. Michael Peers and Pastor Winn Mott struck a friendship and gradually the two faith families shared one facility at 99 Turner Avenue. Peers eventually became Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and was instrumental in creating the Waterloo Declaration that now facilitates Full Communion between Anglican and Lutheran churches. A Lutheran pastor can serve in Anglican churches and vice versa. Brita Chell, a member of St. Stephen and St. Bede, serves today on the joint Commission with Anglicans and Lutherans at the national level.
At its 60th celebrations, the Rev. Jamie Howison explained the two churches learned to become one family, at first guarding separate possessions like church vessels and kitchen items, including milk. Jamie confessed at times he may have drank Lutheran milk.
Under Howison, the two church communities shared in worship, with the two pastors leading services at each other’s churches. About 10 years ago, the churches came together as one. Since that time, there have been interim ministries and two other pastors leading in ministry. Most recently, the two churches developed a common liturgy in the form of a booklet that is now used most Sundays along with Power Point.
There were three former clergy at the gathering of about 122, including Howison, Pastor Johann Kunkel and the Rev. Rick Condo who served as an interim. Other clergy not able to be in attendance sent their regrets by way of a letter that was read to the gathered. At one point, a number that were connected to the Sunday school over the years gathered in the basement where the classes were held. Dave Chell, a member of St. Stephen and St. Bede, urged the gathered to consider ways to regenerate Sunday School and Christian education in the parish.
A good number of St. James Anglican were in attendance and some sang in the joint choir led by Carole Grier and the contemporary music group Loaves and Fishes.
“It was truly a joyous day, one we will remember for a long time,” said Still. “I hope many will return in the coming Sundays.”
St. Stephen and St. Bede, in shared ministry with St. James Anglican, continues to host Sunday services each week open to all. The 9:15 service is at St. James, 195 Collegiate Street and the 11 a.m. service is at St. Stephen and St. Bede.