Thinking about the sentence in the Bible about “whenever two or three are gathered together in my name…,” I wanted to find out how our local Leaside churches were managing in these extraordinary times.
At all six churches – Leaside Presbyterian, Leaside United, Northlea United, St. Anselm, St. Augustine and St. Cuthbert – the emphasis continues to be on community and looking out for those in the parish and the neighbourhood who need help in these difficult times.
Five of the six churches have come up with either pre-recorded or live Sunday worship services. The exception is the Church of St. Anselm, where the technical requirements were just not in place, so online worship services are available from St. Michael’s Cathedral.
Connections to important outreach ministries are continuing in different ways. At Northlea United, meals are prepared for Youth Without Shelter and delivered to the agency for their staff to serve. Leaside Presbyterian, St. Cuthbert’s and St. Anselm’s churches continue their distribution of food cards in the nearby neighbourhoods – but now by mail, rather than with visits. Leaside United’s Outreach Committee is raising money for COVID CARE.
Leaside United was preparing to meet their latest sponsored refugee family. That is now on hold, no one knows for how long. St. Augustine and St. Cuthbert’s are in the middle of a joint sponsorship, and continuing their financial support, but with difficulties in helping with formal English classes or in finding jobs appropriate for a former teacher and a skilled tailor.
The fact that Zoom meetings are available by computer or phone makes them an easy way to connect virtually. Leaside United’s building was closed because of their extensive renovation project (now permitted to restart after being suspended in April), so all their committees were gearing up to be elsewhere anyway. All the churches are holding study groups or parish committee meetings weekly or as required. One session at St. Augustine was based on the number 40, or “quarantine.” Who of us knew there were 146 Biblical references to this? A Prayer Shawl Ministry at Leaside Presbyterian started in February, and has grown since going online. The shawls were blessed on Mother’s Day and were then going to people in vulnerable situations.
Fundraisers and broad entertainment have taken place recently – a reverse rummage sale at St. Augustine, with a dumpster on site – and a variety show at Leaside United.
One event which hasn’t so far been switched online is the Ordination to the Priesthood of the Rev. Sherri Golisky at St. Cuthbert’s. She was to be ordained on March 29, and as of now, we are still waiting for the ordination to happen.
If you are close to Bayview Avenue, you might be able to hear the bells from St. Augustine or St. Cuthbert’s during the week at 7:30 p.m. when they’re rung to show support for frontline workers.