Monthly Archives: October 2012

On Being A Church Tourist in Winnipeg

 I attended church one Sunday last summer  in a loft space above a store. The music was provided by the owners of a local sushi restaurant who sang hymns and love songs in Japanese, while playing electronic instruments.  They obviously loved making music even though it wasn’t always easy for them to stay on pitch or keep the beat. The walls of our worship space were hung with unique art pieces, some quite graphic and unusual. The congregation was a mix of local residents from all kinds of backgrounds. There were men in dark business suits and women in muddy raincoats.  People who were obviously intoxicated shouted out colorful comments during the service.  Psalm 23 was the subject of the short meditation and the text was read in German, French, English, Hebrew and Japanese.

The pastor blessed some crusts of bread and a cup of red juice and we could approach the small altar at our leisure to partake of the elements. Music from a nearby jazz festival was blaring through the windows as we took communion.

       A few months earlier I  had attended a massive stone church right across from the Manitoba Legislature.  It had been built in 1886.  Professional musicians paid by the church directed and sang in the choir. A gifted university music professor played a pipe organ installed in 1917. The lovely stained glass windows surrounding the sanctuary depicted stories from the Bible. The order of service followed a certain liturgy and people knelt, sang and responded orally with little direction from the worship leader. Banners and plaques in the church illustrated its strong connection with military units and soldiers from the two world wars. People wearing fashionable clothes filed up silently and reverently to receive communion from the pastor. During the ‘passing of the peace’ many parishioners shook my hand and welcomed me and when I expressed an interest in the building’s history after the service one friendly church member gave me a tour.

   We spent our first year in Winnipeg church shopping and it’s been an interesting experience. We’ve been to tiny churches and huge churches, churches that are new and some that have been around for a hundred years. We’ve been to Mennonite churches, Anglican churches, United churches, Alliance churches, Lutheran churches and non-denominational churches. We’ve been to churches where most of the people seem to be over eighty years old and others with lots of young families.

        In some churches people warmly welcomed us, while in others not a single person talked to us.  At one church we received several invitations to join families for lunch, while at another the pastor came running after us down the street as we headed to our car because he hadn’t had a chance to talk to us.

        When we moved to Hong Kong we had been attending Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach for the better part of forty years.  

We quickly found a Lutheran congregation in Hong Kong that became our home church for our six years in Asia. Now we are living in Winnipeg and we need to find a new church to attend so we have been church shopping.  We’ve heard every kind of music, listened to many thought provoking sermons and met lots of interesting people. In fact church shopping has been so fascinating we’ve been procrastinating on making a decision about where we want to become members. I know we need to decide soon, but for right now we are enjoying the absolutely endless variety of ways people of the same faith choose to express themselves in worship.

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Connections at All Saint Anglican

Could I have been a Grey Nun?

Consumption Sabbath- Earth Day Winnipeg


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Manitoba Writers’ Guild

I attended my first meeting of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild on Saturday. I just became an official member of the group a few weeks ago. I want to pursue my interest in writing now that I have retired from teaching and joining the Writers’ Guild seemed a good way to become more connected with what was going on in the writing world in Winnipeg.  Saturday was their annual meeting and I learned about some of the projects sponsored by the Guild.

They have a website and if you are a member you can post a profile and a link to your personal website or blog. Here’s mine. The guild offers workshops where writers can work on manuscripts together or receive advice from experts. They have a mentorship program named in honor of a former member and new writers can apply for an opportunity to be mentored by a more seasoned author as they work on a specific writing project. They offer awards to Manitoba writers each year and last spring held a writers symposium on the Canadian Mennonite University Campus. A nice bonus of becoming a member is you get a free readers reward card from the McNally Robinson Bookstore. The guild publishes a regular newsletter that keeps member abreast of all kinds of writing opportunities and events in Winnipeg. 

I met some interesting fellow writers on Saturday and from them learned about grants, retreats and workshops available for Manitoba writers. I look forward to meeting more members of the guild at future events.

The meeting ended with a presentation by songwriter Lindsay White who talked to us about how she writes song lyrics. She compared it to the game Jenga where you create and recreate a tower by pulling out blocks and putting them in different spots. She collects ideas from all kinds of places and records them in a notebook which she publishes online in a blog. Those ideas get put together in various ways to make her songs. The members of her band serve as her editors.  Sometimes she said her songs change so much from her initial idea till the finished product that she hardly recognizes the final song. One of Lindsay’s projects is doing workshops for high school students to help them become song writers. She wants them to believe they can be poets. 

When I lived in Hong Kong I was a member of the Hong Kong Women in Publishing group and it was a great way for me to connect with other women in the city who were involved with writing, publishing and editing. We had monthly meetings with speakers-sometimes they were authors, book editors or bloggers. Every year the organization published an anthology of work contributed by members called Imprint and I was fortunate enough to have my work featured in it.  My involvement with the Hong Kong group inspired me to look for a similar organization here in Winnipeg. 

Through the Manitoba Writers’ Guild  newsletter I have already made a connection with a group that meets bi-weekly to work on writing for children and I am looking forward to attending my first meeting next week.  I’ll  keep you posted. 

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Thin Air Writer’s Festival

There is Winnipeg Mennonite Fiction

Carol Shields

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Up On the Rooftop

With the weather turning colder it won’t be so easy to visit my favorite place at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I love the rooftop garden with its tranquil pool, great views, leafy greenery and  interesting art pieces. The garden is the setting for weddings, concerts and all kinds of events. A dozen sculptures grace the space; but these three take top spot in my affections. 

My friend Rebekah contemplates the sculpture Inukshuk.  The Inuit word inukshuk means ‘resembles a human’ or ‘in place of a human’ and describes a rock piece that looks something like a person. 

Created by artist Manasie Akpaliapik this piece is patterned after traditional inukshuks built to mark a good hunting spot, campsite, trail, burial site or food cache. The Canadian territory of Nunavut has an inukshuk on its flag.  When I’m touring the art gallery with children we try to stand with our bodies looking like the Inukshuk and then I bring out different shaped wooden blocks so the kids can try building inukshuks of their own. Paradise Coyote by John McEwen is popular on tours because it is a sculpture you can walk inside.

The steel base is perforated with hundreds of stars of different shapes and sizes and the word Paradise.  It  can only be read correctly if you are actually inside the sculpture’s base. 

The  figure in The Poet by Ossip Zadkine is holding a musical instrument which I think is very  appropriate since all songwriters are poets too. 

There are nine other sculptures on the roof top and the area is well worth including on a visit to the WAG at least on fair weather days. 

When my talented friend Rebekah was here in August she took this photo of me and a rear view of The Poet. Notice how she cleverly captured the roof top garden reflected in the art gallery windows behind me? 

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy……….

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

An Inuit Art Primer

Between Dog and Wolf

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Autumn in Winnipeg’s Exchange District

All photos were taken within a two block radius of my home in the Exchange District of Winnipeg.

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