Who We Are
Crescent Fort Rouge United Church is a place where the spirit is nurtured, the community is embraced, justice is served, and Creation is respected.
We care deeply about our neighbourhood and the world around us. We love the arts. We are open-minded, open-hearted and open spiritually.
We are a church where active engagement with the visual and performing arts is encouraged, supported and celebrated.
We belong to the United Church of Canada and have served the Fort Rouge neighbourhood for more than 130 years. At our foundation is community service, rather than recruitment. This allows us to support the efforts and ideas of our congregation and the community at large, for the benefit of all.
What Makes Us Different
Crescent Fort Rouge—“A Thin Place”
Many people, on first entering the Crescent Fort Rouge sanctuary, and finding themselves bathed in a warm, golden light, have remarked on their experience of strong sense of presence, of power, of mystery.
The Thin Places Tour website describes a “Thin Place” in this way:
“Thin places are places of energy. A place where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin. A thin place is where one can walk in two worlds – the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the differences can be discerned or tightly where the two worlds become one...
“Truth abides in thin places; naked, raw, hard to face truth. Yet we also find the comfort, safety and strength to face that in those same mystical spaces. Thin places captivate our imagination, yet diminish our existence. We become very small, yet we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive. The human spirit is awakened and will grow if the body and mind allow it.
“Simply put, a thin place is a place where one feels [a] mysterious power…
“Thin Places are ports in the storm of life, where the pilgrims can move closer to the God they seek, where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the Divine Presence. They are stopping places where [individuals]are given pause to wonder about what lies beyond the mundane rituals, the grief, trials and boredom of our day-to-day life. They probe to the core of the human heart and open the pathway that leads to satisfying the familiar hungers and yearnings common to all people on earth, the hunger to be connected, to be a part of something greater, to be loved, to find peace.”
Based on this definition, it is fair to say that Crescent Fort Rouge is a thin place!
Our vision reaches beyond our church
We seek to feed the spirit and do our part to heal the world through outreach, advocacy, and education.
Together with the community we are creating a vibrant space for the arts, older adults, and for families, children and youth. We want to help our neighbourhood flourish by offering opportunities for art creation, music, education, and other services that bring people together to feel connected, energized, and inspired.
We have been exploring ways to make the most responsible use of our magnificent facility to better serve the neighborhood. As members of the United Church of Canada we are part of a great tradition of striving for social justice. Within our own community we see the struggles of poverty, abuse, racism and loneliness. We are working to make a positive difference by extending our outreach to children, youth, families and seniors living in the area and by finding ways to capitalize on the reputation we have built as a home to the arts.
We are firm in the belief that we are together in our faith in this place to do this work with others – we want to live outside of our walls through community service. Achievement of this purpose is our one true goal and is our touchstone for aligning activities.
A Home to the Arts
We feel strongly about the power of art to connect, uplift, heal, and inspire. Our beautiful facility is an acoustic gem and a beloved venue for musical, visual, literary, and performing arts events. We also offer rehearsal space for a wide range of artistic endeavours. And each year we present Artfest, our lively annual festival of the arts. We are expanding our arts programming for all ages and host weekly music activities for seniors and a variety of musical and art-making after school programs for children. We have in residence The Keep Theatre, who maintain their office and run workshops and auditions in the church.
Meaningful activities for seniors
We recognize that older adults have the wisdom and expertise – and the time and desire – to make a difference in the community. We are expanding our initiatives and volunteer opportunities for this group, including activities that support our neighbourhood daycare and school. We offer bi-monthly seniors’ workshops, a weekly music program, a seniors’ walking group and coffee time.
Support for families and children
Fort Rouge Child Care is resident in our building. CFRUC was instrumental in its development in the 1960s, and continues to support it by providing variety of after-school enrichment opportunities for the school age children. Periodically we support additional programs such as music instruction in the neighbourhood. We also have children’s programs in the church.
The Halo Report – Our economic impact
The economic value of our community work is captured in a recent cross-Canada report and is said to be $3.4M annually.
The socio-economic value of CFRUC’s community work was captured recently through a research project called Halo conducted by Sphaera Research. The value of the work that CFRUC does is calculated to be $3.5M annually. Per capita this is $43,906 for every worshipper. This is about 2.8 times higher than the United Church of Canada (UCC) value and 6.6 times higher than that of other congregations throughout Canada. Church members and program leaders expend more than 6,876 volunteer hours totaling more than $185,000 in socio-economic impact and for every dollar the congregation spends the community receives $9.69 in social benefit. This relatively high spending index of $9.69 is 2.4 times greater than the UCC index and 3.1 times the Halo Canada median with the congregation’s largest contributions related to Education (44.41%), followed by Social Capital and Care (25.64%) and Individual Impact (11.61%). Thus, we have evidence that our programs are effective at meeting needs in the community and providing real value.
Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (CFRUC) has served the spiritual and community needs in this area of Winnipeg since 1885. The church was built in 1910 as Fort Rouge Methodist Church. It was renamed Fort Rouge United Church following the 1925 union of Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian denominations in Canada. In July 1937 the congregations of Fort Rouge Methodist Church and Crescent Congregational Church (whose building had been at the corner of Arbuthnot and McMillan) formally merged in this building, which became known as Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.
With a compassionate and committed congregation, we have a solid record of community service. In addition to establishing a daycare in the basement in the 1960s, in the 1970s we partnered with two other Osborne area churches in the development of the Fort Rouge Ecumenical Apartments at 400 Stradbrook to meet the growing need for seniors’ housing in the neighborhood. In our beautiful building with its large, acoustically acclaimed sanctuary which seats over 750, we have consistently offered hospitality to a variety of music and arts groups, many of which consider us to be their home base.
CFRUC partnered with neighbourhood churches to provide supports to refugees and have long-standing relationships with some of the families. We also support St. Mathew’s Maryland and One Just City community ministries.
This short documentary captures some of the history and design features of Crescent Fort Rouge. https://youtu.be/TlQwxv_5EPQ
Our building was designed by J. H. G. Russell, a noted Winnipeg architect, who also designed Augustine, Knox and Westminster Churches, the original Calvary Temple on Hargrave, the Ashdown Building on Main St., and Ashdown House at 529 Wellington Crescent.
The style of the architecture is considered Romanesque. Crescent Fort Rouge differs significantly from the other churches along Nassau St from River to Corydon Avenue in its external cladding of dark red brick, a material much favoured under the influence of the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movements. The brick is augmented by Tyndall stone moldings.
The interior design was consistent with the Methodist approach with the sanctuary laid out as an auditorium, rather than a basilica plan, with a nave and chancel. Typical of churches of its generation, Crescent Fort Rouge was designed with a large extension behind the sanctuary with rooms for various educational and social functions. In this respect it is virtually an archetype of the classic Prairie Methodist churches of the early 1900s.
The sanctuary of Crescent Fort Rouge United Church is an auditory hall with a “U” shaped balcony. Rounded arches are evident throughout: in the tall windows which run up the full height of the interior, in the doorways, and in the groined ceiling. Some say when in the sanctuary, it feels like the building is giving them a hug. Typical of its period, Crescent Fort Rouge has a floor which slopes downward towards the front of the church, and long curving rows of pews with side aisles. The rich oak woodwork and abundant natural light offer a sense of harmony and intimacy
Stained Glass Windows
The stained-glass windows of Crescent Fort Rouge United Church are dated to 1911 and were made by the Winnipeg Paint and Glass Company, and probably designed by Arthur H. Woodworth, head of the company’s art glass department. The windows combine rolled cathedral glass as well as small sections of antique glass. The larger sections of the windows are of opalescent, patterned and streaky cathedral glass.
Crescent Fort Rouge United Church has the remarkable advantage of having all of its stained-glass windows of the same period and in the same style. The windows, united in period, style and colour, provide the inside of the church with an increased sense of harmony, cohesion and balance.
The Pipe Organ
The pipe organ was built by Casavant Freres of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. Their reputation as organ builders of international status was cemented in 1891 with their construction of the organ for the Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, a four-manual organ of eighty-two stops. They built organs around the world, including Canada, the United States, France, the West Indies, South and Central America, South Africa, and Japan.
This pipe organ is known as Opus 441, 1911. It is a three-manual, 33-stop Casavant organ and was installed in 1911. It remained unchanged until 1978 when improvements developed by Casavant Freres were added to enhance the playing and sound of the instrument.
Agnes Saunders Memorial Garden
Crescent Fort Rouge received an unexpected bequest in the 1990s from the estate of Agnes Saunders. This generous bequest made it possible to renovate the chancel area to create a permanent stage area and to upgrade the washrooms to accommodate growing audiences for events.
An outdoor garden was established on the Wardlaw side of the building to commemorate Agnes Saunders. It is a memorial garden where many members and adherents have their ashes buried. It also provides a calm and shady respite for church members and church neighbours.
Worship Team: Reverend Marc Whitehead joined Crescent Fort Rouge United in August 2019. Marc brings with him an endless amount of wisdom, creativity, play, a love for the arts and a passion for the well-being of all people. Worship and other services are enhanced tremendously by the talent of Michael Cutler, organist and choir director.
Support and Technical Teams:
CFRUC benefits greatly from the contributions and commitment of a variety of support and technical staff and volunteers who assist in live-streaming worship, who participate in worship services, and who work to maintain our building and operations.
A ten-member Leadership Team is elected annually by the Congregation to oversee the affairs of the church and meets monthly.
We are a church that preserves and shares its building and green space as a community gathering place.