Page 36 - PC_Fall2020
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FALL 2020
 Tackling Hunger in New Westminster
    By Laurie McKay-Deacon and Deborah Deacon, St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, B.C.
St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church has been in the west end of New West- minster, B.C., since 1910. In 2019, the Rev. Laurie McKay-Deacon start- ed a summer produce program with the support of community partners using reclaimed food. St. Aidan’s PC then worked with the New Westmin- ster Homelessness Coalition Society (NWHCS) and Fraser Health to estab- lish a new Saturday food program in the spring of 2020.
Many programs develop without consulting the people they intend to help. However, this program was in- formed by the voices of those with lived experience in food insecurity and included a volunteer orienta- tion to address stereotypes, educate volunteers on the real face of hun- ger and reduce stigma. In light of COVID-19 and the fear of accessing food programming, we also put strict COVID-19 protocols in place and
made drive-up and delivery options available.
Why are we providing food at this time? COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, and on people’s lives. Many are out of work, there is fear and anxiety, and some may not feel safe or may feel ashamed seeking help for the first time. We are not simply a food bank program providing handouts. We are easing the pressure on household dollars and feeding hope and compassion for our neighbours. In doing so, we are investing into the health and se- curity of our community and becom- ing a more compassionate society. Our volunteers have been generous with their time and energy, treating everyone who comes with dignity and understanding. Businesses have partnered to support us. We are the recipients of compassion and gen- erosity, and this allows us to do the work of food hamper distribution with the same spirit.
The program, now referred to as the Don’t Go Hungry Food Program,
has expanded to include four sites: the west end of New Westminster (St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church), the east end (Knox Presbyterian Church), Queensborough (Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church) and south Burnaby (Gordon Presbyterian Church). We are currently consid- ering expanding to the community of uptown New Westminster (First Presbyterian Church) through a com- munity kitchen or canning program. Five congregations in New Westmin- ster and Burnaby have held collabo- ration meetings for the past 2.5 years to consider where God is calling us as aging congregations with smaller numbers and aging buildings. These conversations have set the ground- work for this program to happen so quickly, as we know each other and now worship online together. Not all congregations are equally engaged, but all have a heart for the Lord’s work in our neighbourhood. While we are still sorting out the future, collab- orating in this ministry of feeding our neighbour with food, compassion
and hope has brought us even closer to each other and to those who give and receive, now known by name.
In early June, we received an email from someone who had heard of our new program and wondered how she could help. I noticed she was writing from a construction company and asked whether they might provide me with insulation as the manse’s base- ment was just studded walls and this was where the food was to be stored. That same week, a project manager stopped by—I thought—to measure the walls and assess how much in- sulation I needed. It is now July (less than one month from her first email) and the entire entryway and rec- reation room have been transformed into a food store and reception area for food. We have new flooring, wid- ened doorways, drywall and paint, pot lights, counters, two sinks, shelv- ing from Sobey’s installed in the en- tire rec room, and a new fridge and stand-up freezer provided as a dona- tion from Align Construction. How can this generosity and compassion to the work of feeding our neighbour NOT be God-touched?! Do you feel the surprised giggle welling up that is God’s laughter?
Within a week of our opening on May 17, the City of New Westminster applied for a grant on our behalf for $32,500 to purchase food for people during COVID-19 restrictions. We re- ceived that financial support within a week. We are also able to deliver food to those who are in quarantine, or are fearful of venturing out, with non-perishables, produce, dairy, eggs, meat, bread and deli items. We are thankful that on July 8, we re- ceived another $50,000 from United Way Lower Mainland to help create a network that is sustainable beyond the end of our initial funding. We are currently hiring a part-time coordina- tor to help expand the work of the
Don’t Go Hungry Food Program. Nine weeks since our opening, we are now feeding over 80 households (over 200 people) every week. Our intention is to be more than an emer- gency relief food hub but a sustain- able community resource through
building relationships.
We have more than 75 new com-
munity volunteers, are now a partner with the cities of New Westminster and Burnaby, sports clubs, farms, business partners and the congrega- tions of five Presbyterian churches who supply volunteers, space, plas- tic bags and egg cartons!
We are blessed indeed, so that we may share blessing, hope and com- passion with others.
Ashfield Graduation, Knox College in Toronto, May 1979.
Continued on page 37
  Celebrating 40 Years of Innovative and Inclusive Ministry
 By Nancy Matthews, Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, Ont.
After more than 40 years of ministry in The Presbyterian Church in Cana- da, including 31 at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, Ont., the Revs. Brooke and Linda Ashfield are retir- ing. Their many contributions have brought innovative and inclusive worship, programming and outreach
to congregations, communities and beyond.
Linda Sugrue and Brooke Ashfield both grew up in Ottawa, Ont., at- tending Knox Presbyterian Church. Following university, they began seminary together at Knox College, and were soon married. When they received their Masters of Divinity in 1979, the media noted that they were Canada’s first married cou-
ple to become ordained together as Presbyterian ministers. Brooke be- gan as assistant minister at St. An- drew’s Presbyterian Church in Owen Sound, as well as at Huron Feathers Presbyterian Centre in Sauble Beach, while Linda led a two-point charge at Chatsworth and Dornoch. Before leaving that role, she mentioned dur- ing the children’s story time that a male minister would be replacing her,
prompting a little girl to exclaim, “Can boys be ministers, too?!”
Indeed, Linda was at the forefront of women in ministry in the PCC. On the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women, she spoke at Knox Col- lege about the struggles, challenges and prejudice that she and many others encountered during and after seminary.
Brooke and Linda began their team

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