“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you… and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7
On Friday evening, 9 November, I had the pleasure of going to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. My wife was away in Minnesota visiting her family, so I went alone. First on the programme was the world premiere of a new work by Winnipeg’s own Sid Robinovitch, commissioned by the Seven Oaks Historical Society (SOHS), Red River. The four movements of the piece are Confluence, Enterprise, Reminiscence, and Contention. The work was commissioned by SOHS as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Red River Settlement of 1812 and following, sponsored and made possible for those poor Scottish farmers by Thomas Douglas, the fifth Lord Selkirk.
Although there was other wonderful music that evening, my focus was on Red River. As Dean of this Cathedral (parish established in 1820, churchyard in 1812 with the burial of the first of the Selkirk Settlers to die) I was invited by SOHS to attend a reception during intermission, including an opportunity to meet Sid Robinovitch. I gladly accepted. Our Cathedral has a close and supportive relationship with SOHS, and it’s one avenue I see for strengthening our connection to the community in which we, as St. John’s Cathedral Parish, live and move and have our being, to crib a bit from the Apostle. There are many good connections already, but I believe that we still need to build, to strengthen, the relations between church and community further. Yes, we have an evangelical commission, to share the Gospel, that is, in every way that we can, but I understand this to include Jeremiah’s words above; we are not separate from the City, we are part of it. Most immediately we are part of the North End, on both sides of Main Street.
I believe that the Spirit is saying to this church, pray for the welfare of the city, but also work for its welfare, as an integral part of it, in every way with every gift that you have. If the past year is any indication, I believe that you, as St. John’s people, agree with me. Use your imagination, your gifts, and let’s work even harder to build our community, for in its welfare we will find our welfare. Thanks be to God!