Black history service celebrates peace and unity
A diverse congregation of more than 14 Edmonton churches came together at St. Faith’s Anglican Church January 29 to make music, dance in the aisles and shout “Amen and alleluia” and celebrate Black Canadian heritage.
In 2017, the province of Alberta officially recognized February as Black History Month, but St. Faith’s has hosted a servicing honouring the history and contributions of Black Canadians for the three years now.
“We are happy that, for the past few years, this space has really become a home for this service,” said St. Faith’s rector, Canon Travis Enright, in his welcoming remarks.
The Rev. Adenike Yesufu, a deacon at St. Faith’s, agreed.
Since she has been organizing the “ecumenical and inclusive” Black History Month service for the local chapter of the National Black Coalition of Canada (NBCC), Yesufu has invited more than 40 churches of different denominations to the service.
“I always encourage people to dress in their native attire and sing songs in their native language,” Yesufu said. “We all have a different history, culture, and forms of religiosity…Black Canadians are not a homogenous group whose history is solely rooted in slavery. Some of us identify as Africans. Some are from the Caribbean. And some are Black Americans.”
The service, organized around the theme of peace, was led by the Rev. Anthony Kwaw, rector of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, and the Rev. Michael Grange of Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic preached.
“Peace is a blessing from God,” said Grange. “Christ’s work is to bring peace and Christ’s death is to bring peace between God and humanity.”
At the end of the service, the congregation received a blessing from Bishop of Edmonton Jane Alexander, and adjourned for a meal brovided by the Edmonton chapter of the NBCC.
Cleaner’s dream comes true
When Linda Hemerez was hired to clean the building of All Saints, King City, Ont., she had no idea the turn her life was about to take.
One day while cleaning, she had a conversation with then-incumbent Canon Nicola Skinner in which she told the priest she was from Syria, and that her parents, brother and his wife and child were refugees living in Lebanon.
Skinner responded by asking if she wanted help sponsoring them to come to Canada.
Hemerez was ecstatic. “I was so happy that I called my whole family…to say we have help. It was my dream to have my parents here in Canada.”
To cover the $45,000 cost of sponsoring the family, Skinner reached out to five neighbouring churches-Holy Trinity, Thornhill, All Saints, Collingwood, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, King City, King City United Church and York Pines United Church in Kettleby.
Skinner left for Grace Church, Markham soon afterwards, but (ret.) Bishop George Elliott, former area bishop of York-Simcoe now retired, took over as chair.
The family arrived in Canada last October, and is now living in a townhouse near Hemerez in Woodbridge.
“It has made me realize there are still good people in the world,” she says. “After what happened in Syria and Iraq, I started to wonder what it’s all for. But after this, I realize there are so many good people. I really appreciate what they’ve done.”
The family, which is Chaldean Eastern-Rite Catholic, has been warmly received by the participating churches. Hemerez father is now a regular worshipper at All Saints, following the service using an Arabic prayer book.
Diocese of British Columbia to build affordable housing for seniors
The diocese of British Columbia is responding to the shortage of affordable housing for seniors by building an 84-unit housing complex on Arrow Road in Victoria’s Gordon Head area.
The new building is a project of the Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society (MDSHS), originally formed in the 1960s by the Anglican Church Women (ACW) in response to a housing needs study.
At that time, MDSHS was able to purchase four acres of land thanks to generous legacies left by ACW members. The stated mission of the Society is “to provide a safe, caring community and comfortable homes to seniors on limited incomes.” MDSHS is run by volunteers, and is committed to providing affordable housing.
The society was responsible for the construction of its first building in 1971, the 80-unit Mount Douglas Court complex, dedicated to Bishop G.R. Gartrell of the diocese of British Columbia. The new three-story building, although entirely separate, will be build adjacent to the existing housing complex.
Approximately two-thirds of the new development will be one-bedroom suites, with the remainder being bachelor suites.
According to Peter Daniel, diocesan asset manager, the average income of the current residents is below $20,000. He says many of its residents may not have been able to find housing at all in Victoria’s pricey housing market if not for the development.
The critical need for affordable senior’s housing was raised by Saanich Council staff, along with studies from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the province. The existing facility at Mount Douglas Court, for example, currently has a two year waitlist.
The project was approved on February 21, and building is targeted to commence later this spring, with occupancy planned for fall 2018.
To qualify, applicants must be over the age of 55, independent and have an income of $30,000 or less. The expected rental cost for the new building will be about $625 for a bachelor suite and $825 for a one-bedroom.
Qu’Appelle bishop plans 2017 bike tour
For the second year in a row, Bishop Rob Hardwick of the diocese of Qu’Appelle is planning a bicycle tour of his diocese.
In 2016, Hardwick’s Pedalling Pilgrimage of Prayer took him across the diocese from the Alberta to the Manitoba border, a total of 731 km in 10 days.
During the trip, he visited 19 churches and raised $25,689 for the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund and for Living the Mission, a fundraising partnership between parishes, the diocese and the national church to fund mission projects.
This summer, Hardwick’s route will take him to tall the churches in the diocese north of the Trans-Canada highway. Between July 20 and August 4, Hardwick will cycle to 34 churches in 21 parishes, beginning in Rosetown and ending in Kamsack-a total of 1,235 km.
The money raised will be split between the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund and local churches.
“It is humbling how taking time to be with God in His creation leads you to prayer and to praise,” Hardwick said.
“The cycle ride is also an opportunity to meet with parishioners across the diocese and to hear their missional stories.”
Individuals are invited to ride along with the bishop for any distance, to raise money or to volunteer with the support vehicle, by taking photos, or in the events along the route.
The Saskatchewan Anglican
Vigil for Muslim solidarity
On January 13, 14 people in the community of Fernie, B.C., gathered for a candlelit vigil at Knox United Church to stand in solidarity with Muslims following a shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six dead.
Organized by Fr. David John of Holy Family Catholic Church, the Rev. Tif McNaughton of Knox United and the Rev. Andrea Brennan from Christ Church Anglican, the gathering brought together people from all walks of life, some of whom were church-goers and some of whom simply walked in off the street.
Participants discussed what it means to lament, noting that at the end of Psalms of Lament there is often a glimmer of hope.
The vigil, which lasted a couple of hours, “was a gentle, yet powerful reminder that even when we feel helpless, when we gather, we draw strength, love, and hope from one another,” said Brennan.
She added that many who were present expressed a desire to gather again, and perhaps to bring in a speaker from the Muslim community to talk about how the Christian community can best support their Muslim neighbours.