Knox United: Great Building, Wonderful Community
Knox United Church is an intercultural church & community hub in the heart of the Central Park neighbourhood of Winnipeg, dating back to 1868, when the Rede River settlement had a population of about 200, and spoke five languages. Our "new' building [our fourth!] was completed in 1917 - 100 years ago! And 8 years before the United Church itself was formed in the merging of presbyterian, methodist and congregational churches in Canada. Knox was the first and largest presbyterian church. As they outgrew their third building, there were many in the presbytery [regional council] who argued that Knox should be built across the river, where the affluent class had moved - but the pastor of the day, Dr. DuVal, made an impassioned plea that the 'working poor and immigrant class' of our city need a grand cathedral more than the well-heeled and affluent, so they went about building the grandest building they could imagine - specifically to be home for newcomers and poor folk... a vision that has propelled this church through the decades.
Today, we gather as a true global community. Many have come here as refugees, Bhutanese folk from the camps in Nepal, people who have come from war-affected lands such as Sudan, Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Kenya and more. Others have come as immigrants, from the Philippines, Nigeria, India, and a number from our historical Japanese community – those who were interned during the second world war and found a home at Knox. Some of our people have been long on this land, our original population and treaty sisters and brothers.
We sing and pray in many different languages: Nepali, Tagalog, Ilocano, Arabic, Cree, Japanese, Yoruba, Somalian, French, Hindi – more than we can list here. The Creator is weaving us together into one community, diverse and united, a community of heart and soul and deep acceptance. In our intercultural worship on Sunday mornings our main language is English, but other languages move in and out, a tapestry of sound and culture.