Pinawa Christian Fellowship
In 1963, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited established a National Research Laboratory and the brand new town of Pinawa in the woods of Eastern Manitoba. A group of future residents met early that year in Deep River Ontario to make arrangements to hold worship as soon as new residents began to arrive. If they were to work and live together, it seemed only natural that they should also worship together.
Those pioneers negotiated with representatives of six denominations and received assurance that the new congregation, called Pinawa Christian Fellowship, would be recognized and supported by the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, and United Churches. Congregants were encouraged to retain their denominational identities while sharing one congregation with one service of worship and one mission to the community. All these years later, we are still worshipping and serving together. We’re a multi-denominational shared ministry, not a non-denominational Community Church.
We have a full-time ordained minister, but no building and, therefore, no debt. We rent storefront space in the mall for meetings and worship space from the school district. Together, the members of
Pinawa Christian Fellowship support the regional and national mission of four parent denominations (the Baptists and Lutherans are no longer part of the shared ministry). At last count, about 20 of our 115 members claim to be Anglican.
Worship is planned by a committee with representation from the four denominations. We follow the Common Lectionary, sing the Psalm, and stand for the Gospel. We sit to pray (too many knee replacements as the congregation has aged!). We have developed a shared form for the Eucharist. Wine in the common cup, as well as wine and grape juice in individual cups, are available for folks to participate in the way that is most meaningful for them. Baptism and Marriage follow the forms of the family’s denominational preference. Pinawa Christian Fellowship also has an active choir with 15 voices, two co-directors, and three musicians to support the singing. There hasn’t been a traditional Sunday School for a decade now, but we offer short-term Christian Education events, study groups, and programs for children and adults during the week or after worship.
Pinawa Christian Fellowship was intended to be an experiment that might eventually be replaced by conventional congregations as the town developed and grew. But, with the decommissioning of the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment, Pinawa has begun the transition to Retirement/Resort community, and the “experiment” of Pinawa Christian Fellowship has become an adaptable and enduring form of church.