“A Corner of God’s Glory”: St. Aidan’s Parish Profile

Photo by RLN

 

Interview with Les, Ruth, and Lynne

 

RLN: Could you tell me about the name of your parish?

Lynne: St. Aidan was known as “the Saint of Surprising Gentleness.” He was a seventh century missionary who came from Ireland. He was a missionary to England primarily in Northumbria, which is the area closest to the Scottish Borders on the east side.

RLN: How does your community understand place?

Les: This was a church plant from St. James Parish in 1929. The basement we’re sitting in is actually the first part of the church to be built because during that time all they could afford to do was dig the hole and worship here. It took ten years to raise the money to build the building that is now above the basement.

Lynne: Those 10 years were during the Great Depression, so it was very difficult to raise money. But there was a need for an Anglican Church in this old part of River Heights.

RLN: How would you describe your church community to a stranger?

Les: When my wife and I first arrived in 1998, we could just feel the presence of the Lord moving and working among the people here. We felt it in the way that the word was preached, the way the Bible was revered, the way that the people welcomed us. We wanted to be a part of that, so we stayed.

Ruth: I came in here seeking a home church, and I found it because the Spirit of the Lord directed me. The Holy Spirit spoke through the speakers at the pulpit and through the fellowship I found in the congregation.

It’s a church family. We use the word “family” generously because we often see our church family more often than we see our families. Everyone wants to belong, and the Holy Spirit will give you that sense of belonging and connectivity to others.

Lynne: I was teaching up in Lynn Lake and when I would come down [to Winnipeg] and was looking for a church, a friend of mine said, “My brother is the minister at St. Aidan’s. Why don’t you try it?” When I came in, the thing that just held me here was that wonderful Prayer of Humble Access, where it says, “[the Lord’s] property is always to have mercy.” When I heard that, I just thought, “I can stay here forever!”

RLN: Who is a part of your church community?

Les: We have such a wide demographic. We have young families, we have mature Christians, and we have everybody in between. We’ve got people from various economic backgrounds, various educational backgrounds, and various ethnic backgrounds.

There are so many people from many different places who come here: Nigeria, Japan, Korea, and Afghanistan. And they’re all spiritually fed here.

Ruth: We have small groups that nurture each other on a more intimate basis. Some meet once a month, some meet twice, and some meet every week. When you’ve got 120 people in a congregation on Sunday, you can meet their needs from a teaching perspective. But for us to grow and start to model Jesus Christ’s teachings, we need to be able to share with each other in a more face-to-face setting as well as in the wider community.

RLN: Could you talk about the relationship that your parish has with Leaf Rapids?

Lynne: In 2017, a missionary from LAMP (Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots) was attending our parish. Our Missions Coordinator talked with him about how we could get involved, and we began preparing to go to Leaf Rapids in 2020. But then Covid struck, and we had to wait. With LAMP, there’s a five-year commitment that’s required not just from the team, but from the church itself. During the Covid interim, we were able to gather warm clothes and hygiene supplies to help them cope with the pandemic.

Finally, we were able to travel to the community for four days in the summer of 2022 to start building relationships. This went so well that a couple of the ladies returned in November to minister to the women there. Our third full trip was last summer in 2023, and then again two of the ladies went up in November. We are currently planning another trip this summer.

There have been real friendships established. When they come to Winnipeg, we have them over for supper and otherwise keep in touch. It’s a beautiful win-win.

RLN: What does worship look like at St. Aidan’s?

Les: We have several different worship styles. On the first Sunday of the month, we’ve got a traditional Holy Communion service, which is a little lengthier and rather formal. On the second Sunday, we have a Worship Service, and its emphasis is simply on worshiping the Lord. On the third Sunday, we have a Holy Communion service in a more contemporary style. On the fourth Sunday, we have a Good News Service which is intended to meet the needs of newcomers to the faith; there’s less emphasis on liturgy and more on the Gospel. When there is a fifth Sunday in a month, it’ll be a Real Lives service where we invite people to give a testimony about what God looks like in their lives beyond Sunday.

Ruth: It boils down to relationships. That’s what’s important. Once you develop that, you see how God is working through you, guiding and teaching you and others. You’re learning from others and you’re teaching others as well and it’s very much about relationships in Jesus Christ.

Lynne: I think that also very much informs our outreach. We have a little garden outside, some herb boxes so when our neighbours pass by, they’re invited to pick the herbs. There’s a community cupboard, a little free library, and places to come and sit. Just little things that say, “Here’s a corner of God’s glory.”

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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