St. George’s, Brandon: God is Doing a New Thing

From the Archives: The parish of St. George's, Brandon gathers for a Palm Sunday procession in 2019.
By on May 3, 2023

In Isaiah 43:19, God says, “I am about to do a new thing.  Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Seven years ago the people of St. George’s, Brandon, pondered a possibility: was God leading them to continue the mission that He had entrusted to them from a different location?  Was God leading them out of the building that they had gathered in to worship Him together for 60 years?  The results of their consideration were, at that time, inconclusive.

A Church building is a great resource for ministry, it is a focal point that both brings us together as we do the work of God’s Kingdom, and gives us a secure place to launch out of as we minister to the surrounding neighbourhood.  Church buildings carry a burden of visible presence in a community, and St. George’s building has been no different from other Anglican Church buildings, in that regard.

But something has happened over the past seven years.  When a priest comes to serve a parish, there is an agreement between the parishioners, the priest, and the bishop – an agreement that this is a team that will work alongside one another for the sake of God’s mission through that community.  Since arriving in the parish shortly after the indecision regarding the ongoing ministry of the parish through the current St. George’s building, I have urged that the building is a great resource for ministry – until it isn’t.

The agreement of the Church around a ministry relationship is only one factor in carrying out God’s mission for His Church.  God’s mission, itself, is another factor (and it comes in multiple sizes: God’s mission for all of His people; God’s specific mission for a specific people in a specific time and place).  The people that a church is called to minister the healing balm of God’s Kingdom among – well, the people are the other factor.

When the Church fails to fully understand who it is they minister among, terrible things can happen; when the Church fails to recognize what it has been equipped with, by which to meet the needs before it, terrible things can happen; when the Church fails in carrying out God’s mission to administer the healing balm of the Gospel to the sinful ailments of our world, terrible things can happen.  But when we bring all three of these factors together: when there is consonance between our God’s mission, our parishioner’s ministries, and our community’s need; when we get it right, something beautiful can happen.

You may have heard that now, seven years later, St. George’s has petitioned the diocese for permission to sell their building. You may have heard that our Diocesan Executive Committee has granted that permission.  Please understand that God is doing a new thing among us, and that inasmuch as He isn’t finished with us yet, we are not yet done. St. George’s was founded as a parish in 1905, and their first church building was located at 801 10th St. in Brandon.

From what I can tell, fruitful ministry was carried out by the parish while it met there.

But that wasn’t the end of the story – because God opened a new door, and in 1956 the parish was rehoused, under the leadership of Fr. Dan Noonan, at its current location, 1011 5th St.  Over the past 67 years there has been a fruitful ministry carried out from this building – Christ Jesus has been honoured, people have found the freedom of serving Him; they’ve grown in love, in joy, in peace; lives have been transformed by God’s Holy Spirit.

The story doesn’t end there, either.  God has opened a new door, and given a fresh vision to His people in this parish.  The parishioners of St. George’s are in a time of transition, and it is not a time of ending.  Instead, it is a time of re-focusing, a time of re-imagining.  God’s mission for His Church is to make disciples of all nations, and with these people – at this time – that means finding a new neighbourhood to be His presence in.

I invite you all to pray for the people of St. George’s as they explore God’s future for them, and seek the people whom He is calling them to now: people He has gifted them to minister among; people He has entrusted their ministry to them for.

I write this piece to you at this time both to apprise you of the situation as it is, but also to challenge: how is your parish fulfilling the ministry God has entrusted to it?  What of those three factors – God’s mission (and the local manifestation of it in your midst), the gifts and abilities that He has entrusted your people for ministry, and the people among whom you minister – what is the intersection of those three factors?  How might your parish best serve God’s Kingdom purposes where you are?

As we mourn the way things were before the pandemic, and adjust to the current realities, my hope is that we would face the future keeping God’s mission front-and-centre in our decision-making processes.  God bless, all!


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