“In Winnipeg: An Exciting Time to Be a Member,” Ensign, May 1989, 110–11
In 1901, a young British politician and writer named Winston Churchill addressed a sizable audience of Canadians at an opera house in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Impressed at finding cultured people on the prairies, he predicted a great future for the city.
Today, 625,000 Winnipeggers share that future. They’re proud of what their city offers—clean air, an exceptional quality of life, and the arts and sports complexes of a city twice its size.
The city is also the home of more than 1,800 Latter-day Saints who suffer through the sweltering summers and bone-chilling winters of southern Manitoba, but wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Church in Winnipeg.
Last year, members here held a jubilee celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Winnipeg Manitoba Stake, the centennial of the arrival of LDS missionaries in the area, and the completion of a new 25,000-square-foot stake center. With the addition of the new stake center, the city’s four wards and one branch now share three buildings.
Most of the members are converts to the Church from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. Dennis and Ruth Tkach, for example, have been members of the Church for more than twenty years. Dennis usually spends two evenings each week coaching other members through a rehearsal of an upcoming play. He has been writing plays ever since he took second place in a contest sponsored by a local theater center. His talents have entertained hundreds of Winnipeg Saints and have earned him a number of road show awards.
“What I appreciate most about my membership in the Church,” he says, “is that I’m living a religion that is truly a way of life, something that affects my conduct at home and at work. It gives purpose to my life. I can’t imagine where I’d be without it.”
Teruel Carrasco and his family moved to Winnipeg from Chile fourteen years ago. He first encountered the Church when a missionary stopped him on a busy downtown street to express his friendship in Spanish. Teruel was moved by the elder’s sincerity and intrigued by his message. When the missionary told him that Jesus Christ had visited the Americas, the thought captured Teruel’s imagination. “Somehow I knew it was true, but I was skeptical. I had to find out for sure.”
That curiosity led Brother Carrasco and his family to baptism. Daughters Dora and Anna have since served missions and married in the temple. Now seventeen-year-old Andrew is waiting for the day he can submit his mission papers.
Teruel Carrasco balances his law studies with helping his wife Lucila take care of the newest addition to the family—six-month-old Andrea. “She makes us feel renewed,” Sister Carrasco says. “We have the blessing of teaching her the gospel at a tender age and, of course, learning from her.”
Learning is also important to Pamela Mason, who starts her day at 5:20 A.M. in order to attend a 7:00 A.M. seminary class. She is one of about fifty LDS youth who travel downtown every morning to attend seminary before hopping aboard the bus to go to their respective schools. It’s not easy, especially in winter, but it’s a sacrifice she willingly makes.
“It’s helped me to build my testimony,” Pamela says. “Without seminary,” she adds, “I wouldn’t have made as much progress with my scripture reading as I have.” Pamela needs only to finish the Pearl of Great Price to complete her first reading of the entire standard works.
Joe and Marla Gross and their four children live in Anola, Manitoba, twenty-five miles out of Winnipeg. Their trip to the city each Sunday to attend church meetings is leisurely compared to the forty-mile bicycle rides Joe’s father used to make fifty years ago. Nevertheless, Joe says, “The Church is the center of everything we do, and the gospel is our focal point.”
“It’s an exciting time to be a Latter-day Saint,” Marla adds. “Church membership is growing.” With the aid of developing technology, she observes, “family history and missionary work are advancing at a rapid rate.”
Richard E. Bennett, president of the Winnipeg Manitoba Stake, sees big things ahead for the next decade. “Many of the latent biases toward the Church in this area are dissolving. We are seeing the barriers crumble.”
Membership in the stake reached 2,500 last year. President Bennett says that the new stake center will be a landmark in the local history of the Church and will have a softening influence on the attitudes of the non-LDS community.
The effects have already been felt. When the opening of the new stake center was announced, a full-page advertisement in the Winnipeg Free Press told the city about the new facility. But the money for the $6,000 ad didn’t come from the Church. The contractors and subcontractors who worked on the building felt so impressed by it that they paid for the ad themselves.
Correspondent: Raman Job, a free-lance writer and member of the Dalhousie Ward, Winnipeg Manitoba Stake.