(This column first appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Anglican Journal.)
For just a few minutes, I want to take you to a very special place I was privileged to visit with Bishop Michael Oulton (diocese of Ontario) in Holy Week this year. It is on Cowdy Street in Kingston. There stood the Church of the Good Shepherd Mission, built in the 1950s. I say “stood” because just recently it was deconsecrated and torn down to make way for the next phase of The Good Shepherd Legacy Initiative.
Through a partnership with the diocese of Ontario and Habitat for Humanity, the entire church property is being redeveloped. Phase one has been completed—the construction of the first double-housing unit, providing homes for two families. Phase two is the building of a new ministry centre that will house a number of programs to meet the needs of the neighbourhood. Within the facility, there will be a multi-purpose space easily transformed for Sunday liturgies and mid-week gatherings. Phase three will be the construction of two more double units, housing for four more families.
At the centre of this wonderful initiative is that faithful little congregation and its very big heart. With great courage, they decided to refocus their energies from labouring to maintain what they had to re-imagining their ministry for the future. They are blessed through the ministries of a highly motivated pastor, a faithful retired priest who is tending to their pastoral needs, a socially-minded bishop with strong diocesan staff support and an enthusiastic ambassador of Habitat for Humanity.
Within months, this congregation has witnessed its property become a construction site. They are now worshipping in the common area of a local residence for seniors. They are watching with great interest the laying of foundations for what will be their legacy, and their excitement is growing with each new phase of construction.
This Good Shepherd Legacy Initiative is indeed a story of a congregation devoted to serving its neighbourhood well, and a story of effective partnerships for amazing results. It is a story so worthy of the name this congregation bears—The Church of the Good Shepherd. “I have come,” Jesus said, “that you may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).
The decision of this little fold within the flock of Christ will bring much life and blessings to so many others for years to come. A lovely legacy indeed. With them, my heart sings!