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FALL 2021
 Pregnancy and Infant Loss and the Church
 Moving from Silence to Lament
can go a long way in creating a cul- ture of awareness and tenderness.
However, we can be very inten- tional about including the sorrow that comes from pregnancy and infant loss in our worshipping life together. We have rich and meaningful biblical texts to help us reflect theologically on these losses. We have music and songs that help express the pain and grief that come out of these experi- ences. Ultimately, we have good news of hope that can help move us (sometimes very slowly) through our most difficult experiences.
People’s reproductive losses need a place in the life of the faith com- munity to which they belong. We know how to do the right things when someone’s loved one dies—we pre- pare food, send cards, reach out and arrange meaningful funeral services. Can we learn how to sit with the complicated grief that comes with pregnancy loss or infertility?
How faith communities choose to
recognize these losses will vary, but at Grace Presbyterian Church in Cal- gary, Alta., where I serve, we will be marking Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15 with a candlelit Service of Lament and Re- membering. We will acknowledge the pain and grief we are walking with; we will remember the children we had hoped to hold, and we will mourn these difficult and complex losses. We are hopeful that these rituals will be meaningful to families carrying si- lent burdens. This service can begin to create a culture of awareness and tenderness in our community.
If you are looking for resources to use in your community or to use in your own leadership and care of oth- ers, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has gathered a meaning- ful and comprehensive list of help- ful tools and resources at worship. worship-resources-for-pregnancy- loss-and-infertility.
By the Rev. Maren McLean Persaud, Associate Minister, Children and Youth, Grace Presbyterian Church in Calgary, Alta.
One in six families in Canada expe- riences infertility, and approximately one in four pregnancies ends in mis- carriage. Knowing these statistics, it’s safe to reason that pregnancy and infant loss have touched the lives of many in our congregations and faith communities. These losses are more common than we think. The losses are more hidden than they should be, and the pain experienced is never shor t-lived.
I live with infertility in my own life and have experienced reproductive loss many times. It wasn’t until I was vulnerable in sharing those experi- ences with others in my faith com- munity that I realized I wasn’t alone.
Many others were carrying similar pain, even if they had experienced the loss many years ago. While our society has come a long way in talk- ing openly about pregnancy loss and infertility, there is still lots of room for improvement. As people called to weep with those who weep, churches need to play a role in creating spaces where the grief, lament and trauma from these not-so-rare experiences are honoured, expressed and held tenderly by the wider community.
The church seems to save our tears for funerals, but we don’t al- ways create intentional space to mourn other kinds of loss outside those services.
Churches also regularly celebrate days that can be incredibly isolat- ing to any family or individual who has experienced reproductive loss. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,
The Rev. Maren Persaud.
Christmas, Baptisms and even All Saints Day can be triggering and iso- lating events. While we don’t need to constantly remind one another of reproductive loss statistics on these days and cram in as many mentions of infertility and pregnancy loss as we can manage, simply being aware of the realities in some people’s lives
  Responding to the Opioid Crisis
  By the Rev. Dr. J. Mark Lewis, Interim Moderator at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ont.
In November 2021, St. Paul’s Pres- byterian Church in Hamilton, Ont., will become the city’s only safe in- jection site for people struggling with opioid addiction.
The Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site will be managed by Hamilton Urban Core (HUC) who will lease an area of about 1,000 square feet formerly used by St. Paul’s as a nursery, library and meet- ing area. HUC is a publicly funded inner-city and community health centre.
St. Paul’s is responding to the opi- oid crisis in Canada. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction and Public Health Ontario, 3,873 people died of
opioid overdoses in Canada in 2019; of those, 1,535 died in Ontario. In 2020, 125 people died of opioid overdoses in Hamilton.
At St. Paul’s, we want to be en- gaged in a partnership that will re- duce the hurt caused by opioid ad- diction. The CTS site at St. Paul’s will manage over 27,000 visits per year and provide career counselling and addiction counselling in addition to a safe injection site.
Providing a CTS site serves a vulnerable sector of the commu- nity, takes strain away from hospi- tal emergency rooms, reduces the spread of infectious disease, includ- ing, but not limited to, HIV and Hepa- titis C, reduces the number of used hypodermic needles disposed of in public, provides access to health and social services and promotes the use of detox and drug treatment services. All of these benefits are consistent with St. Paul’s desire to respect the dignity of all people.
In our conversations with HUC, the people of St. Paul’s came to have a new understanding of the nature of drug addiction. We have some tendency to think in negative terms of persons who struggle with drug addiction. We do not take into ac- count that drug addiction is often a coping mechanism that develops in response to trauma brought about by abuse, lack of housing, chronic un-
employment or poverty.
For St. Paul’s, this relationship and
partnership with HUC represents a move towards a new understanding of what the church must be if it is to have a vibrant and meaningful future. We used to ask, “How can we get more people?” and “How can we get more money?” Now we ask, “What needs exist in our community that are not being met?” and “Who is vulner- able, and needs our help?” and “How can we use our building and location to serve the Kingdom of God?”
It may be that somewhere along the way, many traditional congre- gations forgot to ask the question, “Why do we exist?” A significant part of the answer to “why,” is that we ex- ist to uphold the equality of all peo- ple, to defend the dignity of all people and to appreciate the eternal worth of all people. Those are the things that Jesus did, and that Jesus commis- sioned us to do. We do these things when we reach out with love to the most vulnerable people around us.
The members of St. Paul’s are compassionate and mission-minded. Apart from participating with enthu- siasm in the missions of The Pres- byterian Church in Canada, they have always looked to their community to see who needs help. St. Paul’s has long been home to the Cottage Art Studio, an outreach initiative by the Hamilton Program for Persons with
St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ont.
Schizophrenia and has provided a regular meal program for homeless people.
Our new partnership with HUC al- lows us to use our building and loca- tion to serve God by serving people in need. The initial lease with HUC is for two years, but we hope that at the
end of that time, HUC will continue to use our facility as a satellite site. We have been busy setting up the new relationship with HUC, but we are already looking for new partnerships that are consistent with the mission of helping the most vulnerable people in our community.

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