The Ven. Christo­pher Dunn, Ot­tawa West Angli­can Archdea­con, All Saints West­boro

By Matt Harrison

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY -

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.

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