For the past 60+ years, the members of Windsor Park United Church have felt God’s call to minister and work within the community of southeast Winnipeg. Our church has provided value to the area, not only as a place to join others on their faith journey, but also as a place of building community.
But…what if Windsor Park United Church was not here anymore?
This year, we all learned that we can’t do faith alone. When the church doors closed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us felt lost and isolated. Over the past 9 months, however, the church has been an anchor for many, grounding us in a sea of change.
So…What has God been doing in our church this year?
Our last in-person service of worship was in March 2020. The end of the season of Lent and Good Friday/Easter services were very different from the original plan, but we moved forward to provide meaningful services. We recorded our services for posting on our website and YouTube channels. Services were recorded and edited on Saturdays and sent out on Sunday mornings. Our worship team consisted of Patrick, Laura and Myrna as we navigated our new worship world. We were grateful for the people who agreed to participate by doing readings and reflections from home on Good Friday (and again later in the year). In May, we enlarged our worship team to also include Gloria (board chair) and Sarah (worship council chair). We decided to do bi-weekly services during the summer to stay connected with the congregation. For a short time, our worship team was able to expand by 2 more people!
We decided to take our Time for All Ages out of the building and have looked for ways to give home-bound people something different to see and think about during the service. The summer time Virtual Garden Tours were a hit and allowed people to share their beautiful gardens.
In May, a re-opening committee was formed as we looked toward the fall with the hope of being together again. Throughout the entire time, the safety and well-being of the congregation was our highest priority. Protocols were established and safety products purchased so that people could work in the building safely. The committee continues to monitor all public health orders and advice.
Our Tim Horton’s partnership continued into the late fall, bringing what would otherwise be food waste to many hungry people in the city. The program is now on hiatus due to current public health measures.
Melissa, from Bible Adventures, has kept in touch with our youngest members by sharing drop-off packages with the children at Halloween and Christmas.
In the fall, the work of the church continued as Councils began meeting over Zoom. Members of the congregation have also had the opportunity to connect via Zoom coffee times on Thursdays and “after church” coffee time on Sundays.
Our on-line presence has allowed people to maintain a link to the church. Services can be watched at your convenience and shared with others. Our Longest Night/Blue Christmas service was viewed 93 times, bringing comfort to those feeling the stress of the season. On December 24 our website had 164 visits. Between the website and our YouTube channel, the Christmas Eve service has been seen 255 times! Our virtual community has expanded to include people from all over Canada and the world.
Mid-week devotions from Patrick, as well as the occasional funny story or picture, via congregational emails, have kept people up-to-date and connected to the church.
Because some in the congregation do not have the use of technology, a team of volunteers check-in with folks at home by phone. We also have some faithful people who deliver soup and help with other needs.
Our little free library has continued to be a blessing to the community as libraries have been closed for much of the pandemic. Many people from the church and wider community regularly visit. The butterfly garden was tended by volunteers and brought joy to the neighbourhood with its beautiful flowers.
Our basement has been completed! Once the renovation was done, all of the basement storage areas were cleaned out and crafts supplies that were no longer needed were donated to other worthy groups like Art City, Rossbrook House, Splash Daycare and Art Junktion. Other items were saved from the landfill by donations to Value Village, and drop-offs at metal and technology recycling. We will be ready, when the time comes, to open our doors to community renters once again!
Our Outreach Council was again able to share hampers this year. Eleven hampers were delivered before Christmas. There was also an abundance of donations for the mitten tree, as people have honed their skills during their time at home. Some of these donations have already gone to Rossbrook House in Winnipeg and War Lake in northern Manitoba. As permitted, knitted and crocheted blankets have also been shared with people in the community.
Throughout the spring and summer, we continued to provide regular support to West Broadway Community Ministry by providing monthly lunches.
As health orders allowed, we have continued to provide support through marriage, baptism, and funeral services to our members and the community. The Memorial Garden continues to offer a beautiful and affordable final resting place for congregation members and their loved ones.
Now, as we near the end of 2020, we need your support more than ever. We are asking you to consider contributing a “year-end gift” to the General Fund of Windsor Park United Church to help cover our deficit for 2020 and give us a strong financial start to 2021. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s about coming together as a community united in the belief that Windsor Park United Church makes a difference in the lives of those it touches as well as the greater world. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation to help us continue to move forward with our ministry.
To make a year-end gift:
- drop off a cheque in the mailbox or come by on Thursday, December 31 between the hours of 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. to drop off your donation in person.
- Give through Canada Helps. You can make a one-time donation or set up a monthly donation. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/m/47090/donation
All donations received by December 31 will be given a 2020 tax receipt.
Blessings as we move forward into the new year together.