Pacific Community Church
Pastor Jim Heuving remembers stories of the hunger his parents endured in occupied Holland during the Second World War.
“We heard the stories. Mom grew up in Amsterdam, where food was hard to come by,” he says. “Luckily, dad was on a farm. He was OK as long as he could hide potatoes.”
The Canadian Army is generally credited with helping to rescue the Dutch people from starvation in 1945. It was a lesson about doing the right thing that Heuving has never forgotten.
“There is a strong bond between the Dutch people and Canada,” says Heuving, 49, a married father of two. “The soldiers made it possible for us to live this way.”
Buoyed by feelings of gratitude, Heuving’s parents emigrated to Canada. His mother moved to Ontario in 1950 and his father in 1953. They married in 1962 and Heuving was born in Ottawa.
Today, Heuving is pastor of Pacific Community Church in fast-growing Cloverdale. The area is as complete a mix of urban and rural, old and new, as can be found in Metro Vancouver. Modern subdivisions spring up near farmer’s fields. Fancy shopping malls are located next to the 1950s-era town centre.
Heuving doesn’t have to look far to see both the wealthy and the poor in his community. Five minutes from Pacific Community Church, a modern shopping mall caters to customers seeking spiced lattes.
Even closer, right outside the church doors in the 5300 block of 180 St., homeless people erect tents in the bushes. It is a convenient location because of a set of railway tracks that make it easy for the homeless to get back and forth, away from prying eyes. Heuving calls the route the “homeless highway.”
“It is travelled quite a bit. There are probably a couple of people in the bushes right now,” he says.
Heurving recalls discovering one bereft fellow who had been sleeping under the church’s eaves.
“It was a typical story of hard knocks, losing his job and his family due to alcohol,” he says. “Our initial response was fearful and then it became, ‘What can we do to help?’”
Heuving’s evangelical congregation, which numbers 350, decided to fill the void left by a Cloverdale soup kitchen that closed several years ago.
Church members voted to raise $400,000 to build a large-scale commercial kitchen in the church. The plan was made possible by a substantial contribution from an unnamed Vancouver donor.
Church director Alan Cadwell has begged and borrowed thousands of dollars worth of stainless steel tables and stoves. The new kitchen is also equipped with a 70-litre soup kettle, 66-second commercial dishwasher and walk-in cooler. Heuving, a baker’s son, plans to use a big automatic mixer to make bread.
He says the kitchen is not about promoting the church as much as doing the right thing.
“This is not a means towards an end and we’re not looking to grow the church,” says Heuving.
“This is a kitchen for the sake of the community.
“This is a kitchen for the sake of the community. This is about embracing one another in dignified ways.”
— JIM HEUVING PASTOR, PACIFIC COMMUNITY CHURCH
This is about embracing one another in dignified ways. I grew up in a bakery and I know what a kitchen can do.”
Cadwell is finding that the need for a helping hand extends well beyond the homeless. He says single moms, the disabled and cashstrapped seniors are also in need.
“People are living cheque to cheque more and more,” says Cadwell.
He notes that new townhouses in the area, although considered “affordable” by Metro Vancouver standards, cost $350,000.
“What are [people] supposed to do?” he asks.
Heuving sees the kitchen as an opportunity to serve people in numerous ways.
“I want to establish the kitchen as a network hub of social resources in the community.
“People have dismissed the church as an irrelevant part of society. I lament that but I have to live as the Christian faith demands. This is exactly what the church should be doing,” he says.
The kitchen will begin serving meals next month but the grand opening, including a fundraiser and a walk, is planned for Feb. 22, a date often billed as the coldest night of the year.
Pastor Jim Heuving stands on the railway tracks near Pacific Community Church. He calls the tracks the ‘homeless highway’ because impoverished people in the area use them to get back and forth.