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Saturday Breakfast at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, B.C.
 Joint Community
Initiative Yields
   Funds for Missions
  By the Rev. Carol Hamilton, Knox (Harrington) Presbyterian Church in Stratford, Ont.
Like so many churches across Canada, none of us was ready or prepared for the drastic impact that COVID-19 would have on our ability to worship and our ability to meet our financial obligations. Fortunately for Knox (Harrington) Presbyterian Church in Stratford, Ont., we are a small rural congregation with a solid base of support from local families.
As the first weeks of the pandemic progressed, our congregation began to provide services virtually and con- nections ceased to be face-to-face. But that did not stop our various teams from beginning to think out- side the box and consider new ways to raise funds, since hosting church suppers and collecting funds at pot- luck luncheons following worship services were no longer possible.
In May 2020, members of the Harrington and Area Community As- sociation (HACA) approached our congregation to see if we might be interested in participating in a joint initiative to raise funds. The proposal was to host a Celebrate Harrington Community Auction, and half the funds raised would be allocated to our congregation and the other half would be utilized by HACA. Our Out- reach Team readily went into action, soliciting items from the congre- gation for the community auction.
By the St. Andrew’s Breakfast team, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, B.C.
On the second Saturday of May 2020, a few volunteers prepared and handed out a take-out breakfast to a dozen or so community members who came by the Courtney Street door of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, B.C. This was not the usual St. Andrew’s Breakfast.
Earlier that spring, when mandates for gatherings curtailed church ser- vices, and serving food in a large public setting was considered dan- gerous, Session decided that it was not possible to continue the church’s 25-year tradition of serving a hearty breakfast to vulnerable community members. Even the large Commu- nity Centre services that had offered regular meals to the most vulnerable were sharply reduced as the needs of displaced persons grew visibly in the city.
Responding to a community need in 1996, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was one of four downtown Victoria congregations that accepted the call to provide a hot breakfast for people in need. The Presbyterian church’s organizers decided to seat guests at tables with proper place settings and cutlery to treat them with respect and dignity.
For almost 20 years, around 300
guests gathered in St. Andrew’s Kirk Hall for a pancake-and-ham breakfast. Many commented on the respect they felt they received here. Between 2015 and 2016, the num- ber of guests dropped significantly to roughly 160–180 due to changes in other meal location’s services and other factors. The other three churches that had served Saturday breakfasts shifted their resources to the centralized Community Centre rather than hosting the breakfasts at their own church sites. St. Andrew’s volunteers continued to serve guests in the usual manner of honouring each person as a valued member of this community.
Many devoted volunteers are required to operate the breakfast, beginning with a personal greeting at the door. Each guest was then escorted into Kirk Hall, where they were seated at well-appointed tables and offered coffee, tea and orange juice. Volunteers delivered a meal of pancakes and ham on heated plates and additional helpings were always available. People got to know one an- other. Many of the guests and volun- teers have been coming together for many years.
Since the beginning, volunteers at St. Andrew’s Breakfast have fos- tered a sense of community rather than simply administering a church outreach. Over the years, the various organizers recruited work colleagues and friends to help. Volunteers came together to serve alongside both cur- rent and former church members, young students from high school and university, and other community par- ticipants.
Dave was once a regular guest at the monthly meals. He lived in his van and appreciated the chance to sit down at a table with others to enjoy a meal. He was able to move into social housing in 2015, and that
move made a difference in his life. He began to volunteer and soon be- came a regular on the clean-up crew. During the past five years, Dave has regularly stacked plates and washed dishes in appreciation for a program that valued him personally during a rough period in his life.
Each member of the St. Andrew’s Breakfast team finds a specific role in this ministry. A couple of church members regularly set up tables and get Kirk Hall ready on Friday after- noons before the Saturday event. The pastor seats guests at tables, while conversing with them and learning who wants to sit together, or needs an accessible corner spot. A long- time volunteer, Frank, is the master of perfectly flipped pancakes. Com- munity volunteer, Kevin, cleans the washrooms following each break- fast. He suffered a heart attack in Au- gust and recently sent greetings that he was ready to return.
The faithful St. Andrew’s Breakfast volunteers believe the meal is an es- sential service. They have responded to the new restrictions and reimag- ined what is possible with a workable new plan. Pancakes on heated plates have been replaced with scrambled eggs with ham and cheese and a muffin that can be served with fresh fruit at the door in recyclable contain- ers. St. Andrew’s organizers contin- ue to serve each guest with dignity. Guests continue to comment on how they appreciate the respect shown to them and the hot meal dispersed with a kind word.
How will we move forward with the breakfast as the pandemic con- tinues? As the weather changes and the needs continue to grow, volun- teers are again learning how to adapt to every changing condition. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).
HACA agreed to upload auction items using the website, 32auctions. com.
For four days in mid- July, a no-contact drop- off location for donated household items, home cooking, gift certifi- cates, and gifts of time and expertise was buzz- ing with activity. The auction was widely ad- vertised in the commu- nity, as well as during the announcement time in our virtual services. More than 300 items were donated, but hav- ing never done anything like this before, the joint teams wondered if this method of fundrais- ing would work. Would
people bid? Would the expenses of adver tising and website costs be covered?
To everyone’s surprise, multiple bids were made on most items. The end result saw more than $6,000 raised with our congregation receiv- ing $3,100. What a gift this was for our congregation. We were strug- gling to meet our obligations to Pres- byterians Sharing and other mission ventures, so these funds were very much appreciated.
Would we recommend this means of fundraising to other churches? Ab- solutely! Our Outreach Team worked very hard, but made some meaning- ful connections with members in the community. Everyone appreciated the care taken to keep each other safe with no-contact protocols in place.
As Pat Meadows, our Outreach Team leader commented, “It was really nice to join with a community group that works in the little village of Harrington, where the Presbyterian church is located. The people were a pleasure to work with and to get to know better. There are talks of re- peating this endeavour with HACA.”
If you have a team willing and able to work together, with a few mem- bers versed in computer technol- ogy, there is no reason this method of fundraising should not result in positive results! Working together as the body of Christ is what the world needs now!
Breakfast Program in Victoria

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