Today is St. Andrew’s Day.
St. Andrew was one of the first two disciples Jesus called to help Him. And although we don’t generally celebrate “feasts of the saints”, we can reflect on the ministry of Andrew and our history as a community of God’s people in Barrie.
Andrew was a fisherman and he followed Jesus in the context of his own life and experience. Andrew introduced his brother, Peter, to Jesus, and together, the two brothers – who had made their living by fishing together – followed Jesus and helped develop a diverse team of disciples and a community of followers. Sounds simple – and that is what we are called to do.
In Barrie, in more recent decades, St. Andrew’s was the first church to open its doors to offer shelter to those living outside. Out of the Cold was born and other churches joined us in providing respite from the elements, food and fellowship. The program was folded into the work of the David Busby Street Centre several years ago.
We ran a soup kitchen for years, and once the Salvation Army opened its mission centre on lower Bayfield Street, it made sense for the program to move there.
In the past, we have helped refugee families settle and build new lives in Barrie. It is an incredible experience to see people, who have had to flee war, not just find peace here, but opportunity, as they find jobs, build businesses and raise families – and become Canadian citizens.
These days, we support neighbouring churches in the Barrie Food Bank’s Little Food Pantry. It’s important theses little pantries offer not just convenience, but privacy so those accessing the cupboard – stocked with winter-proof edibles like granola bars, pepperoni sticks, canned fish packed in oil – can do so privately so as to preserve their dignity.
Our property, located kitty corner from the Barrie Public Library’s downtown branch, isn’t private; indeed, it is very public as many walk by on their way to the library, City Hall or the Service Canada building across the street.
So this week, we are adding a new ministry, which takes advantage of that accessibility and which continues to provide some respite from the cold, even if it’s just for the hands, head and feet. Our Little Winter Warmers Tree features mitts, hats, scarves and socks – all kept dry in resealable plastic bags, pegged to the tree.
Like many things, however, this ministry is best when many people work together. We are asking our friends and our neighbours – be they businesses or individuals – to contribute to the supply. Donations can be dropped at our office weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Join us in helping others. Bloom where you are planted. Share what you have, even just a little.