Storytelling with a purpose

Who Needs Church?

The film was excellent, great focus and so well sketched with the visuals and main characters. Such an important story to be told. Congratulations!

Julie Ireton

Senior Reporter, CBC

Congratulations on your amazing doc and a successful viewing last night. You make it look so easy! It sparked some great conversations. The topic is one that everybody has strong opinions about and I’m so glad you were brave enough to tackle it. My neighbour and I chatted all the way home about our experiences with church and it was great to be having these conversations.                                                                                                         Heidi Grant

Congratulations on such an awesome movie, well done. I went with about 8 people from the Anglican Diocese. We all thought the movie related well to the same discussions and considerations for their churches as well.

Graeme Hussey

Director of Housing Development  

Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation


Who Needs Church? is the story of an urban church fighting to keep its doors open despite an aging and dwindling congregation. Members of the church, as well as the broader community, are asked to consider the question, "is the church still a necessary part of our modern lives and community?


Kublacom Pictures presents                                                  a film by Danielle Rolfe & Ed Kucerak


     Daniellle Rolfe


     Danielle Rolfe

     Ed Kucerak


     Ed Kucerak

     Danielle Rolfe

Video editors

     Danielle Rolfe

Colour Grading

     Maayke Schurer

Sound Editor & Music Design

     Andrew Huggett

Original Music

     Andrew Huggett

Church Music

     Soutjminster United Church Choir

End Credits Music

      "You Belong" by Heather Barrett

Produced by Kublacom Pictures and through the SAW Video Jumpstart Mentorship Program

The Film

Despite being a mainstay in a downtown Ottawa neighbourhood for over 80 years, Southminster United Church faces an uncertain future. Southminster’s struggle to stay open in the face of a dwindling congregation and the high cost of maintaining a beautiful but aging building, however, is not unique. Urban and rural churches across North America struggle to stay open, but many are being repurposed or sold to private developers.

For Southminster, an agreement with a local developer to build a condo and townhouses behind its main building offers the congregation the hope of remaining a place for spiritual and community gatherings.

Over a period of one-year, the film follows the church's redevelopment application process and the on-going controversy with neighbours about the redevelopment. Interviews with community and church members explore the bigger questions about whether there is still a need for churches in contemporary society, and whether the loss of churches might affect some community members more than others.

Southminster minister Reverend Trisha Elliott points out that the church is a community hub with over 70,000 visits per year offering affordable space for community programs and arts events. The church’s outreach ministry operates the Centre 7 Out of the Cold Supper program and connects the most financially and socially vulnerable members of the community to needed social services.

Journalist Patrick Langston, lead author of the Ottawa Magazine feature story Altared: Renovating the House of God, explains how these outreach services save the City of Ottawa a lot of money. Within Ottawa, this “Halo Effect” provides nearly $5 of value in common-good services for every dollar in a church congregation's annual budget ( Without churches and their volunteers to run these programs, the city would need to make up this difference by providing the infrastructure and paid staff to do so.

Reverend Tom Sherwood, retired United Church minister, Carleton University professor and author of Listening to the Echo: Young Adults Talk about Religion, Spirituality, God, Gods and Their World, also weighs in on how churches must reimagine their place within communities in order to connect with the many young Canadians who identify as “spiritual-but-not-religious.”

The 30-minute film brings to the forefront the contribution churches make to a communication at a time when many are disappearing from our landscape. And it questions what a future without churches would look like.

Host a Screening

If you are interested in hosting a screening of Who Needs Church? at your community, organization or church, please contact us with the following information: Name, Contact Information (email address and phone number),  Name of Organization and a Brief Description of Intended Screening (possible dates, location etc.).

Who Needs Church?, a 30-minute documentary film, is available for screenings in various digital formats along with promotional support materials.

Media Coverage

* CKCU 93.1FM, September 2019: Who Needs Church? Interview with Patrick Langston, Danielle Rolfe, Trisha Elliot & Ed Kucerak

* The OSCAR, May 2019: Who Needs Church Film Review by Tony Wohlfarth

* Artsfile, March 2019: Filmmakers Offer a Cinematic prayer for Ottawa’s Historic Churches

* CBC Ottawa Morning, March 2019: A New Documentary asks question “Who Needs Church?” - Interview with Danielle Rolfe & Trisha Elliot


* One World Film Festival, Ottawa ON,

   November 4, 2019

* Low & Trinity Churches' Screening,

   Low, QC, Oct 27, 2019

* Glebe St James Women's

  Intergenerational Group Screening,

  Ottawa ON, September 22, 2019

* Open Doors Ottawa Community

  Screening, Ottawa ON, June 2, 2019

* Southminster United Church,

  World Premiere Screening,

  Ottawa ON, March 24, 2019