In a time where many churches are seeing declining attendance, the Living Spirit Centre in Regina's Arcola East neighbourhood has found a way to bring three congregations together to make sure their building is a busy community hub all week long.
The building has two separate sanctuaries and on Sunday mornings Bread Of Life Lutheran Church and St. Phillip Anglican Church hold services simultaneously. Eastside United Church holds its service immediately after.
The lobby of the building has a table set out with coffee for church members to stand around and visit before and after their respective services.
"People appreciate the opportunity to do things together," said Russell Mitchell Walker, minister at Eastside United.
Sheri Nupdal is a member of Eastside United and between the book club, meditation group, and craft group, she spends a lot of time at the centre.
She said the members of the various churches work together on some committees and help each other out.
"We help out when there's funerals at one of the churches, the other church will come and do the lunch for them. It's friendly, it's nice, and it's economical," Nupdal said.
It also allows the smaller St. Phillip Anglican congregation a way to offer Sunday school for kids by partnering with the Lutheran congregation.
The three churches all contribute to paying for the upkeep of the building which makes financial sense to many of the church members.
"When you have a big church sitting empty all week, that's not good stewardship," said Carla Blakley, Pastor of Bread of Life Lutheran Church.
United Over Love of Coffee
Sharing one space with three distinct congregations has its share of frustrations. Two of the congregations are "affirming", meaning they are welcoming to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transexual people, while the third doesn't use that designation.
"It's one God. While we all have our differences we have a lot in common, drinking coffee is one," laughed Blakley.
"We've accepted that we are in different places. We don't have to force each other, we can just accept that's how it is. Sometimes they try and make Christians into little cookie cutters and we are not. We are all different and that's OK," Blakley said.
'The church isn't the building, it isn't the walls, it's the people.' - Carla Blakley, pastor at Bread of Life Lutheran Church
Leaders from all three churches said good communication is key to success and they have figured out solutions to problems that have popped up over the years.
Blakely said at the beginning, not being able to decorate the walls themselves proved a sore spot, but that challenge ultimately taught them a lesson.
"The church isn't the building, it isn't the walls, it's the people," said Blakley.
Building Serves as Community Hub
The Living Spirit Centre has partnerships with Arcola Wellness Clinic. Two psychologists and two social workers work there full-time.
"When we reached out in this community people were highly stressed," explained Blakley, "We wanted to be able to offer services such as meditation."
The building is also home to Munch Catering, a group that teaches catering skills to people with intellectual disabilities.
Church members say the building is busy every day of the week and they consider that a success.