The Ven. Christopher Dunn, Ottawa West Anglican Archdeacon, All Saints Westboro
By Matt Harrison
If its bustling courtyard, adjacent to the main Richmond Road thoroughfare, is any indication, All Saints Westboro is thriving — er, “adapting” as Dunn puts it.
At this particular noon hour, the courtyard has youths sprawled out on its small patch of grass, an older couple shares a bench, and office employees mill about the bulletin board with coffees.
This confluence of various groups and generations is symbolic of how this church continues to survive and grow. Nine years ago, First United Church was struggling, as was All Saints Westboro. Since no other Anglican churches were ready to merge, the two churches took the unusual step of moving into the same building in Westboro. Almost a year ago, the same struggles caused Parkdale’s St. Matthias Anglican congregation to move.
Now three congregations from two mainstream churches worship under one roof (but at different times). Doing so has breathed new life into the more than 150-year-old building (designed by Thomas Fuller, Chief Dominion Architect for the Government of Canada), swelling the building’s numbers to 250 people on an average Sunday (including all services), with approximately 50 of those being youth. “Having that many people come into one place means that it’s always on the go … there’s more people around, you have critical mass, and the place hops,” says Dunn. What are some of the struggles your congregation faces? What we’re discovering is that we can’t do things the way we always did — we need to adapt. … We need to look at new ways of being church in the community. How do we do that with the resources we have, which includes the physical buildings and other resources? The question has to be asked, “Do we [the city] need 20 Anglican churches? Or could you do more with ministry centres?” [The merging of all three churches] has allowed us to pool our resources together and do more things. And because of that, we’ve grown.