Magazine article Anglican Journal

Shared Ministry of Four Denominations 'A Charmed Situation'

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Shared Ministry of Four Denominations 'A Charmed Situation'

Article excerpt

At a time when many churches are struggling with the costs of maintaining their buildings and ministry, the Rev. Rob Murray counts his blessings.

For 15 years now, Murray has been rector of Manitoba's Pinawa Christian Fellowship (PCF), which has never owned a church building since it began in 1963. Instead, the congregation has regular Sunday services at the F.W. Gilbert School and, on certain occasions, at personal care homes in the community.

The other blessing that Murray counts? PCF is a unique and vibrant shared ministry of four denominations: Mennonite Church Manitoba, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The PCF began when some staff members of the Chalk River Laboratories moved from Deep River, Ont., to Pinawa, Man., where the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment of Atomic Energy Canada Limited (later known as Whiteshell Laboratories) was first built. The founders agreed that their church would be one where they would be allowed to keep their denominational connections. (Pinawa is an hour-and-a-half drive from the eastern edge of Winnipeg.)

"It's a difficult time to be in ministry, and this is really a charmed situation," says Murray, an ordained Presbyterian minister.

The PCF has 178 people (from 100 households) on the parish roll and about Go come for regular Sunday worship. Murray need only to walk or bike to visit most of the parishioners (only four households live outside the community), a situation he describes as "a luxury."

Having four different denominations under one roof can be challenging, but Murray says the church has made sure each denomination gets equal representation in its governance structure. The church has a set of bylaws crafted by its original founders, who were mostly former federal government employees with PhDs. "They put a lot of thought on the balance of power," says Murray. The same balance of power that exists in the church's general committee is also reflected in the worship committee, for instance.

The church tries to meld the rites of all the denominations into its worship, he said. "On a typical Sunday, we stand for the gospel and say the responses. We usually follow the lectionary, but we're not tied to it." When it comes to baptisms and other rites, "We follow the tradition of the family," Murray says.

The only other church similar to the PCF that Murray knows of is the United Church of Los Alamos in New Mexico. …

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