Joel Den Haan describes the change for St Andrews United Church as moving from performing in a theatre to doing street theatre or to say another way, doing ‘church’ in a traditional church building to taking ‘church’ to where the people are.
A seven year journey of discernment for St Andrews United Church resulted in the sale of their building on Heritage Drive and the refocus of their attention and resources to projects in the community. They do this work out of their new office and gathering space at the St Andrews Centre on Southport Road.
What has this looked like so far? A few examples include
- Support for Chaplaincy services at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University.
- More support for work with youth in Calgary. A shining example of which is Naked Faith, a youth created and led worship service held one Friday night a month, bookended by food and games.
- New partnerships with groups like the Kerby Center who are running programs such as Yoga for Older Adults and Ukelele lessons at the St Andrew’s Center.
- Being a partner in the Lion’s Den Social Innovation Challenge hosted by the United Church of Canada and Ambrose University.
St Andrews has furthered it’s exploration of how it can do street theatre by hosting a community round table with the Loving God, Loving Your Neighbourhood program sponsored by the Calgary Foundation. Out of the community round table, St Andrews is considering the role it can play in enabling professional networking opportunities for area agencies, It is also looking at the potential for an interagency resource centre to be established in the south Calgary area between Heritage Dr. and Shawnessy. This area of Calgary’s south currently does not have a locally-accessible office or storefront where citizens can access services and professional supports.
Church, taken to the streets, can discover new ways of making Calgary a more thriving and innovative city with resilient and connected citizens.