Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen Walking through one of the furniture stores at the Shops on Don Mills, I was surprised to see this quote from Leonard Cohen posted on the wall. The store …
Well we’re almost there. In just four more sleeps we’ll wake up to that day we’ve all been waiting for. Christmas Day! It’s the day when Christians celebrate the birthday of the savior of the world. But we’re not there yet. We still have waiting to do. We still have time to prepare for that …
As we enter the third of four Advent weeks leading up to the big day, and as we continue our focus on the core value of ‘Intimacy with God’, I have been reflecting a lot about the very personal nature of this core value. Being close to God starts with us first and foremost. Then …
As we enter the second of four weeks of Advent leading up to the big day, and as we continue our focus on the core value of ‘Intimacy with God’, I am reminded of the events surrounding the Santa Shuffle that happened this past weekend. As a reminder, Advent is the season in our Christian …
As we enter the final month of 2015 we will focus on the last of our Salvation Army core values; Intimacy with God. And as this is the first week of Advent, I will attempt to marry these 2 themes. Advent is the season of four weeks leading up to Christmas. In the Christian calendar, …
In 2016 we think our Toronto shelters will help around 400 women and men find their own apartments and move out of our shelters. That excites us! But we want to make sure we do as much as we can to ensure that the people we help to house can turn that housing into a …
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Last week I met with a Salvation Army officer to chat about a theological question that interests us both. We don’t know each other very well, so we told parts of our story to each other in order to begin developing a friendship. We’re both from Newfoundland, which is almost always an instant connection point for relationship building, so we shared common stories of life in that province.
He told me a story about a time when he was the corps officer (pastor) of a small Salvation Army church in a very rural Newfoundland outport. He noticed early on that while a lot of women were coming to church on Sunday, the men of the village were not. So he started to build bridges with the local men. As it was a predominantly fishing village, he began to get up at 4 in the morning every day and head out on their boats to help to check their lobster traps. He said, “I threw up my guts every time I went out. But I kept doing it.” Relationships formed. Trust was earned. Friendships evolved. And some of those men even began to go to church on Sundays.
As we focus in November on our core value of the month, cooperation, I am mindful of this story. We have decided, as a group of Salvation Army shelters in Toronto, to cooperate with each other by integrating and forming a new entity we have named Toronto Housing and Homeless Supports. We have just completed our second of a three year plan to integrate, and we are seeing good fruit of this endeavor. We know, as the narrator says in the above video, that we can do more together than we can do apart.
We’ve also acknowledged that some of the things we once did, out of our effort to respond to the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in our city, just weren’t effective. So we’re trying some different things. Changing how we do business is hard work and sometimes uncomfortable, but as we learn how to cooperate with each other, we’ll keep getting up at 4 in the morning to check those lobster traps, even if it makes us throw up sometimes.
That’s how much we care about our friends on the street.
That’s how much we want to end homelessness.
And it does get easier the more often we are willing to take that leap of faith aboard the boat. So let’s keep cooperating with each other and striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
Dion Oxford, Director of Mission Integration
Grace me with a spirit of cooperation, O God.
Restrain impulses that cause me to value my own opinions over the needs of others.
Remind me often of the importance of serving one another with humility.
And help me to regard each and every person as part of the great human family,
created in your image, and held in your great and loving heart.
Well, today is the day of Canada’s 42nd election since confederation. It’s a very tight race and, after 79 days of campaigning, is still too close to call. Whoever the Prime Minister of Canada is tomorrow will be charged with the responsibility of providing leadership to this great country or ours. Our votes matter. We …