This Christmas, many of us were disappointed that our churches would be empty once again for in-person services due to the rapid spread of the COVID omicron variant.
At St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral in Nelson, we were pleased that our church did not have to remain entirely empty on Christmas Eve and during the cold winter months. Though this was a minor sacrifice for us, it was a way to love and care for our neighbours and communities by doing our part to help keep them safe and healthy.
In November we were approached by Nelson CARES Society, a non-profit community organization that has worked for decades to “create a fairer, safer, and socially just community,” and “to work to build a healthy and inclusive community where respect for all individuals is an ordinary, everyday occurrence.”
Nelson CARES supports a wide variety of community programs and services including affordable rental housing, an emergency shelter, and residential and employment services for adults with disabilities.
Due to COVID, the emergency shelter has a limited number of beds they can provide and they needed an overflow space. Nelson CARES asked the church if we could accommodate eight additional emergency over- night beds. After a brief discussion at church council, we enthusiastically agreed to partner with them to provide additional shelter during the winter months. A space in the church has been set aside and the Nelson CARES staff provide all the super- vision, cleaning and maintenance to keep the space clean and safe for overnight guests. One of the church’s new washrooms includes a shower which enables overnight guests to have a clean, hot shower, as well.
We recall Jesus’ words, “Truly I tell you, as you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40); and we’re pleased to offer the church building in this way as an outreach ministry in our community. As one of the shelter staff managers wrote, “This project is becoming more and more collaborative and it warms my heart to see so many community members wanting to support this.”