Glebe-St. James: a caring force in a hurting world

In a pre-pandemic December of 2019, Glebe-St. James WIG members with their gifts for Centre 507 clients  
Photo: Crystal Maitland

By Bob Irvine

The church family of Glebe-St. James United (GSJ) did a quick and successful pivot in the face of COVID-19. True to our mission, Reaching – Into Faith, Out to Others, we’ve worked innovatively to support one another and the wider community. Thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers, we can view our worship services either streamed live at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays or any time after they are posted online. We know live-streaming has made it possible to reach well beyond our usual in-person congregation. Virtual services include prayers, readings and thoughtful reflections on scripture by our coordinating minister Reverend Teresa Burnett-Cole as well as music and songs led by choir director James Caswell, minister of music. Until COVID ends, talented soloists are replacing our award-winning choir.

We long to feel connected. Reverend George Clifford, our minister of visitation, reaches out daily by phone; we all report feeling supported by his enthusiastic conversations with us. Using Zoom, we share news with each other after the service. Some people think the virtual coffee hour is even better than when we met in person and were busy talking church business! Every other month, our Friendly Callers Team checks how everyone in our congregation is faring. If you mention to Dudleigh Coyle, founder of the church’s monthly Men and Friends Dinner Group, that you like chilli, you will soon find one of his signature chilli dinners at your door, complete with sourdough bread baked by Bruce Taylor, soups by Jennifer Reid and cookies from our best bakers!

We are actively seeking to be a caring force in a hurting world. The Women’s Intergenerational Group (WIG) prepared COVID-19 kits including 150 packed tote bags for Centre 507 and the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. At the annual fall quilting retreat, GSJ women craft beautiful baby quilts for St. Mary’s Home. This year, the retreat was done virtually, making it even easier for quilters outside GSJ to participate. Fifty cozy quilts were donated to welcome new babies during COVID-19. The Prayer Circle has a dozen members who make focused prayers on behalf of confidentially referred individuals and families – both within and beyond our church family. Along with the Mennonite Church, we raise funds for refugee housing by purchasing gift cards from Ottawa food stores each month. Members from four granny groups at our church involve us in fundraising for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Finally, through contributions to the United Church’s Mission and Service program, we are reaching people in Canada and around the world who need food, housing and employment support.

These are examples of how Glebe-St. James United Church, located at 650 Lyon Street South in the Glebe, is a vibrant and dynamic community, even in a pandemic. To learn more, please visit our website: glebestjames.ca.

Bob Irvine, a frequent Glebe Report contributor, and his wife Karen Smith are long-time members of Glebe-St. James.

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