Pivot613: changing the stories of peoples’ lives

Pivot613

Paul Mugarura, with his wife Evelyn, founded Pivot613 as a church in 2013. It meets Sundays at the Ecclesiax building on Fifth at Monk Street. Photo: courtesy of pivot613

by Kathi Elborn

The beginning of the New Year is a natural time to pause and reflect, to take stock of the year that has passed and think about where we’ve been, the struggles and the triumphs, how we spent our time in 2017 and changes we want to see for ourselves in 2018. Many of us, despite knowing better, make the same doomed resolutions we always do only to crash and burn sometime around mid-February. Invariably, these resolutions centre on diet, exercise and finances.

Interestingly, it was a series on the futility of New Year’s resolutions that first led me and my husband to start regularly attending Pivot613, a new church in the Glebe, in early 2016. We were walking along Fifth Avenue by Monk when we noticed the sign for Pivot613 declaring “Love First” outside the Ecclesiax building where they meet Sunday afternoons. It stuck in my brain long enough that I googled the website later. Searching for a church home, the motto “Love First” resonated, as did the mission statement: “changing the story of peoples’ lives through grace, mercy and love.” If your past experience of organized religion resulted in feelings of fear, judgment and condemnation rather than grace, mercy and love, you may want to check out Pivot613. Forget counting carbs and make this your spiritual resolution instead.

Pastor Paulo Mugarura and his wife Evelyn founded Pivot613, which is associated with the Free Methodist denomination, in 2013. The church moved from Kanata to the Glebe in 2015. Mugarura is both a likely and unlikely pastor. Likely, because he is the son of a much-loved Anglican priest in Kampala, Uganda and grew up serving in the church; unlikely, as Mugarura’s university education is in math and computer science. He was born in Canada but raised in Uganda and he returned to Canada in 2003. He worked as an international IT specialist and eventually left his IT career behind to focus on leading worship. Mugarura brings his gifts of speaking and music to each service but more than anything he brings his vision of how the most pain-filled circumstances in peoples’ lives can become stories of redemption if we don’t react in fear but pivot instead towards love. Evelyn Mugarura is an elementary school teacher with the public school board and shares this vision with Paulo, specifically focusing on children’s ministry.

If you visit Pivot613, you will notice a few things, such as come as you are because there is no dress code, no fixed format, and no prescribed protocol. Secondly, you will see a congregation that is not racially exclusive, that is generationally diverse and even theologically diverse in the sense that there is not necessarily agreement on every point of doctrine. Questions are welcomed. Sometimes there is no definitive answer, which I find refreshingly honest. And thirdly, you will find a church that seeks out practical ways of extending grace, love and mercy, such as supplying essentials to Restoring Hope ministries who run the Haven shelter for homeless youth here in the Glebe.

I recall one of the first services I attended; we looked at the scripture from Matthew 6:25-34.  You can read it for yourself but briefly, it references not worrying. “Look at the sparrows. They do not sow or reap or store away but the Father feeds them. Look at the lilies of the field. They do not labour or spin but see how they are clothed.” Sitting as a newcomer in the back row, I thought, “well sure but what about the single mom who’s been laid off and rent is due?  How can she not worry? What do birds and flowers have to do with that?” Imagine my surprise when Mugarura invited questions, and someone raised this exact point. I listened closely as Mugarura and the people in attendance grappled with how to interpret this passage from the Bible in a way that makes sense today. The give-and-take discussion is not something I had experienced at church before.

Pivot613 is about grace, love and mercy. Mugarura observes, “if people choose love instead of fear, they set their lives on a completely different trajectory… and if people choose mercy instead of condemnation, they become such remarkably different people that they’re almost unrecognizable. This is the transformation we’re about at Pivot613.”

In Pivot613, my family and I have found a small but growing congregation where we feel accepted, encouraged and inspired. If you are looking for a spiritual home here in the Glebe, drop by for a visit. More details at www.pivot613.ca or #pivot613.

Kathi Elborn is a Glebe resident who attends Pivot613.

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