Council of Churches learns about L’Arche
Shirley MacKay reported on behalf of the Pictou Fuel Fund. Rev. Aiden Kingsbury thanked Jim McKenna for his leadership over the last two years and other members.
He especially gave thanks to all the donors and residents of Pictou County for their kindness and support. Awards for various groups and individuals who supported the fuel fund were recognized.
A great kick-start for this year’s fundraising was once again Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie Campaign. Envelopes were available to be given to the various churches and a thank you for the churches continued support.
Robert Rogers reported on the Shepherd Lunchroom. Between June and August, the lunchroom served 2,780 clients over 35 days. Plans are underway for Christmas.
He expressed thanks to the “One Hundred Women Who Care” which enabled the purchase of a new commercial model stove that was badly needed.
Mary Arseneau reported on behalf of the Social Action Committee. A “Chew On This” paper bag was given to each person as they entered the meeting. “Chew On This” events are being held by many groups in more than 30 cities across Canada, covering the areas from Vancouver to St. John’s to Yellowknife and includes events in our local area.
These bags include a snack, a magnet and a postcard to let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know that we need a plan to end poverty, food insecurity and homelessness in Canada. Since the “Dignity For All” campaign was launched in 2009, the campaign has called for a national plan to end poverty.
Thousands of Canadians are demanding the federal government to establish a plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for nearly 900,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and for others who are struggling to get by.
A report was given on the Viola’s Place. They are still in need of volunteers to be able to operate. Training sessions are being offered.
Even a couple hours can help fill the gap. Schedules will be flexible. Mary also gave a report regarding the refugees, the Boat Harbour situation and the walkIn clinic.
Emma Campbell presented the financial report and budget for the upcoming year. In September, word was received from the radio station on the cancellation of the Church Alive Program, which aired on Sunday morning.
Guest speakers were Jen Power, director of L’Arche for the Maritime Provinces, and Ian Pellerin. These guests shared the story of L’Arche, a story of love, faith and hope.
Ian and Jen explained how they were alike and different. She explained that L’Arche was a place where L’Arche members are different in some ways but the same in many other ways. L’Arche was started in 1964 by Jean Vanier, son of the former Governor General of Canada, who had an encounter with individuals with disabilities. While he did not understand the words some of these individuals were saying, he recognized in his heart they needed to be accepted for who they were and it was important for them to have a place in the world where they could belong. He called this new community L’Arche, which is a French word Ark — a place where people can come together where something new and something hopeful is born.
The L’Arche community has grown to have 150 communities in the world. Five are established here in Atlantic Canada. Jen spoke of what it was like to live in L’Arche homes, how the members share life together, doing chores, crafts, meals and many activities.
She directed her thoughts to a message she heard at a church camp in Berwick, where a poem by Boras Novak read, “Between hope and despair, choose hope, it is harder to bear.”
The invitation to choose hope is always there.
We need to feel hopeful. Living in community has its sufferings, differences that can be misunderstood.
Jen shared many wonderful information about life in L’Arche and left us with these words: wonderful things can happen with living with hope, choosing hope does not happen because you want it to happen; it happens because you worked very hard for it to happen.
She closed with, “When God is going to do something wonderful, he or she starts with a hardship, and when God is going to do something amazing, he or she always starts with an impossibility.”
Next meeting will be at Lady of Lourdes Church on Dec. 4.
Dion Durdle reminded everyone of the Salvation Christmas Kettles and the need of volunteers.