The spiritual map of Thompson has undergone a bit of transformation in the formal blending of two of the community’s longstanding congregations. As of Jan. 27, the former congregations of Advent Lutheran and St. John’s United have formally joined together to become the Lutheran-United Church of Thompson.
The marrying of congregations of different traditions is not unique in Northern Manitoba but it is a brave new experiment in Thompson itself. The melding of two religious communities has breathed new life into two congregations that have struggled with the realities of a vastly more secularized world than existed when both formed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As both churches faced declining attendance, dwindling revenues, and as more work fell to fewer volunteers both groups began to look at possible alternatives.
Starting in 2008 the two churches began a dialogue about their respective futures and by March 2009, Rev. Leslie King, of St. John’s United Church, who helped shepherd these discussions, believed “that there was beginning to be a sense of unity in these early stages.”
Starting in September 2009, the two congregations began to share two monthly services and soon a combined ministry committee was struck to begin the process of exploring and building a joint future. Advent and St. John’s drew closer together in fellowship and worship and the work reached a crossroads in March 2011, when it was resolved that both would seek further integration.
After developing a joint declaration of faith, the two congregations negotiated a covenant agreement, which was unanimously adopted last Nov. 12. With a new name and renewed sense of purpose the two congregations are united in their shared commitments to continue to worship together and serve the wider community meeting at their sanctuary at 52 Caribou Rd. Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.