Begun as a mission of St. George's Crescentwood in the early 1950's, St. Peter's first church building was dedicated in January of 1956. The parish was formally established and its geographical boundaries set in April of 1956. By that time, 134 families in River Heights called St. Peter's home. It is a defining quality of St. Peter's that the parish has been able to shift it's focus to meet the times. This is evident in all aspects of parish life from worship space to mission and outreach.
The present sanctuary was dedicated on April 30, 1961, five years after the parish was formed. A focal point of the sanctuary is a large cross designed by the Rev. Doug Stewart, second rector of St. Peter's. The church's bell tower was added in 1963 and houses a bell from the Chapel of the Mustard Seed near Matlock, Manitoba. An addition, including the narthex and church offices as well as the basement, was completed in 1980.
Worship is central to the life of the parish and the way we construct and use our space says much about who were are. In spring of 2004, after much study, meeting, and prayer, the sanctuary was reconfigured to emphasise the communal nature of worship with Christ in our midst. The first service in the new space was held on June 13, 2004. In response to the goal to be inclusive and welcoming to all, the physical structure of St. Peter's was made wheelchair accessible, and the parish became a scent free, nut free space. In recent years, St. Peter's has developed policies to help limit the environmental impact of activities in the building.
Over the years, parishioners of St. Peter's have found many creative ways to break bread together. From Sunday School picnics at Crescent Park to annual meetings that became annual banquets, from Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers to Maundy Thursday Seder meals, the parish family has enjoyed the gift of table fellowship. A parish social evening back in 1986 evolved into Pub Nite, a full-scale production with dinner and entertainment that was a feature of the parish for 12 years. Today, table fellowship happens in a variety of ways, among them monthly breakfasts for men (the first Saturday of the month) and Sunday soup lunches.
Mission and Outreach
St. Peter's has always regarded itself as a community church with an ongoing interest in the surrounding neighbourhood. Over the years a variety of community groups have used the building as a meeting space including Y-neighbours, Cubs and Scouts (from very early days), day care(70's & 80's), singing groups, and Toastmasters. This community focus continues to the present, with an after school program and a local yoga class, among the groups using St. Peter's space.
Community concern has widened into mission and outreach, and includes support for ministries in the city of Winnipeg and in the global community. When the 9/11 disaster happened, St. Peter's opened its doors for the community to drop in to pray. When the invasion to Iraq seemed imminent, the doors were opened from 9:00a.m. to 9:00p.m. for all to join in a week of Prayers for Our Broken World. In March 2011, St. Peter's once again offerred the community a place to pray together after a devastating tsunami struck Japan. Mission and outreach, through prayer and tangible support, remain an important part of the character of the parish.
Today, St. Peter's is home to some 160 families. While it has experienced a certain amount of geographical spread as members have aged and moved out of the neighbourhood, it still remains very much a community church with a heart for caring for both neighbour and the wider world.