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The parish of Holy Trinity is a historic downtown parish in the heart of Winnipeg, MB. It was founded in 1868 and the current building (designed for 800 people) was completed in 1884. The building, a fine example of Victorian-era Gothic revival architecture, is always featured in the (architectural) “Door Open Winnipeg” each spring. As is the case with many urban churches, the membership has decreased from thousands to one to two hundred with an average Sunday worship attendance of about 30 – 60 persons.

In spite of that numerical decline, the congregation has maintained its passionate vision of serving the downtown and its people – hence its motto “Sanctuary for the City.” The current demographics of Holy Trinity’s parishioners are a mix of people of Caribbean, African, Indigenous, and European descent. Many of the former are relatively recent newcomers to Canada. One of the parish’s most important missions is its lunch program. For over 30 years Holy Trinity has served lunch one or more times a week to all who come to its doors. Recently it formed a separate legal entity (Downtown Neighbourhood Lunch) in order to become more eligible to receive funding from secular sources. The parish also has a reputation for its high level of music. While it now offers a once-a-month modest choir to Sunday worship, the parish employs a part-time music ministry coordinator, an organist and a part-time cantor. In addition, it offers various concert opportunities throughout the year. Holy Trinity has hosted two 2SLGBTQIA+ affirming Evensong services in recent years, organized and led by clergy and musicians who identify as part of that community. These services have gone a long way to make marginalized members of the queer community feel welcome in the Church again. In addition, an Anglican Sudanese mission shares space in the building and provides the local Sudanese community with after-school tutoring and summer activity programs.

The parish is facing some challenges. Even though the decreased membership has presented financial challenges, the parish has secured income from an adjacent parking lot as well as a carefully managed endowment fund. However, there are also decreased human resources, both paid and volunteer, which stretch the congregation’s ability to carry on the ministry and mission to which it feels called. But probably the most serious problem is the church building itself. In 1989 a geological survey revealed that the 1884 building was not structurally sound and would, over the coming decades, collapse without underpinning the building and digging a foundation. More recent surveys indicate that time until critical structural failure and/or the building being condemned is likely a matter of months to a few years at most. The best estimate of the cost of the repairs is $7M and neither the parish, diocese, nor any historical site funders have the resources to complete the repairs or replace the building. The parish has thus requested permission of the Diocese to sell the property. The exact timing of any potential sale of the property is not yet in focus. Nor is it clear who might purchase the property or for what purpose.

Even with the impending loss of its building (and to some extent, supported by being freed from the burden of its upkeep) the parish remains committed to Christ’s call to serve in downtown Winnipeg. Selling the church property would not be the end of the parish, but rather a much-needed response to the social inequities that are so obvious in Winnipeg’s core. With any proceeds from the sale and the already-existing endowment, Holy Trinity would, conservatively, have a budget of $500,000 every year to do Christ’s bidding. Christ’s love and compassion are needed now as much as ever.

Ordained leadership

With the above realities in focus, the new work will necessarily be a sharp departure from the ministry that most urban Anglican parishes in Canada have had over the past 200 years. Naturally, the parish is grieving and will continue to grieve the loss of what this building and community has been over the past 155 years. The next Incumbent must be able to lead the congregation through its upcoming transition and also be attentive to God’s outrageous calls to action! And it follows that a group of parishioners will continue to gather for worship, no matter where that may be. In the most predictable, practical terms, it will likely be a space rented in the largely vacant Winnipeg downtown or the space resulting from an amalgamation with another mainline church’s building. Those specifics are not yet in view, but they are the smaller part of what God’s call entails. The more significant part of God’s call seems to us to be to love our neighbours. What that more will be is not entirely in view. The portion that is in view is the newly incorporated Downtown Neighbourhood Lunch. The next incumbent would have the responsibility of helping us to discern the fullness of God’s call.

Holy Trinity is searching for a candidate who can commit to a full-time, three-year Incumbency, with the option of renewal. We believe that God is calling a leader now who will answer, not despite the challenges Holy Trinity faces, but because of the new creation this parish will become as we humbly respond to the needs of our neighbours and indeed, the world around us.

Applications for this position will be received until close of business on Friday, May 31st, 2024. For further information and the full application package contact The Rt. Rev. Geoff Woodcroft, Bishop of Rupert’s Land at .