St. Matthew’s Anglican Church
How does your church community understand “place”?
We are located in the West End neighbourhood of Winnipeg, Manitoba on Treaty One territory. Our location is significant to our identity as our church has been shaped by our surrounding community.
In the 1950s and 60s when many British families who had been members of St. Matthew’s moved to the suburbs in the south side of the city, the parish was faced with the decision of whether to close and relocate. Instead, the church decided that its mission and ministry should remain West Central Winnipeg. In 1972, in partnership with Maryland United Church (then also worshipping in the building), St. Matthews-Maryland Community Ministry was founded as an outreach ministry to the neighbourhood which has now become part of the non-profit organisation 1JustCity’s initiatives.
By the turn of the century, managing the large building had become difficult for the small congregation. Committed to continuing to serve in this neighbourhood, St. Matthew’s entered into a partnership with another church worshipping in the building, Grain of Wheat Church-Community, to establish St. Matthew’s Non-Profit Housing Inc (SMNPH). Together, they also developed the WestEnd Commons, which provides supportive housing and community to low and mid income community members. St. Matthew’s gave a 50 year lease of its building to SMNPH and is now a tenant in the building and an active member of the WestEnd Commons.
Our community is also actively aware that we live and worship on Indigenous land, and that the formation of our church is entangled in histories of Christian settler colonialism. As Indigenous and settler people worshipping together, we aim honour the history of Indigenous leadership and ministry in St. Matthew’s past (for instance, the Friendship Sewing Circle with Rev. Phyllis Keeper, and the neighourhood feasts hosted by Indigenous community members) and present, and to honour Indigenous communities outside our parish.
What are three words members of your church community might use to describe your church to a stranger?
Who is a part of your church community?
Our current church membership includes people of diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, faith backgrounds, and occupying different class statuses. Our church has been gifted and shaped over the years by Indigenous and Caribbean communities within our congregation. More recently our congregation has grown to include a number of Berundian members. We also have a number of older white members, several of whom have been involved in various forms of social activism. We have also been shaped by LGBT+ members of our congregation.
How would you describe your church community’s worship?
Our worship is rooted in Anglican tradition, but we try to have it be as accessible as possible. We select hymns from the Book of Common Praise which resonate with our mission and with our community. Worship services are liturgical, but are also relaxed. It is hard to do the wrong thing at St. Matthew’s. We have a lot of room for messiness. We also highly value community. When sharing “the peace,” many congregants make a point of sharing with every other member of our small community. Lay members provide healing prayer with anointing some Sundays, and coffee times for catching up and friendship some Sundays as well.
What do you value about your church community? Where do you see life in your community?
The life of St. Matthew’s is best expressed through our church prayer and our community aims.
Our prayer for our congregation:
We pray for our parish, St. Matthew’s, here in the heart of the city in the heart of God.
Let our church be like a living tree giving shade and shelter to all who come.
Under its branches let the people rest in your grace and be re-rooted in your kin-dom’s work.
May the streets of our community be holy ground beneath our feet.
Our parish strives to be…
- a community of belonging, dignity and honouring of each other’s gifts
- a people of compassionate action and engagement with our neighbours
- a space of healing for ourselves and all our relations
- an opportunity to celebrate our faith with joy and intellect; and
- a community of collaborative decision-making and table fellowship