Turning churches into community hubs

Nov. 22 workshop an opportunity for Calgary faith communities to explore transforming their worship spaces

Ikhwan Zailani

Lincoln Park resident Amber Cannon credits the increasing well-being of her neighbourhood largely to the work of a local church, Bethany Chapel. The church co-runs a recycled clothing store for local residents, hosts community dinners and facilitates monthly meetings for local women to connect and learn specific skills.

This is one picture of how a faith community’s gathering place might become a community hub.

The Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative (CPRI) report highlights community hubs as one important path to reducing poverty in the city.

Calgary has abundant resources for addressing poverty, the report identifies. If there’s any silver bullet, it’s to be found in building community. As bonds of trust are created and strengthened between people, the resilience of the community as a whole will deepen.

A group of women from the Lincoln Park community at a gathering hosted by Bethany Chapel.

A group of women from the Lincoln Park community at a gathering hosted by Bethany Chapel.

While the definition of a community hub is very loose, at its essence it’s an intentionally designed space that generates connections among residents.

When the Reverend Mark Tremblay of Knox Presbyterian Church first reviewed the CPRI document, and especially the part on community hubs, he was excited to delve further into the possibilities for his own church.

“We want to discover and explore together what this idea (of a community hub) means and how faith communities might get involved.”
— Reverend Mark Tremblay

He is now part of a small group committed to hosting a Nov. 22 workshop on how Calgary’s faith communities can get involved and/or form a community hub to help build trust and resilience.

“We want to discover and explore together what this idea (of a community hub) means and how faith communities might get involved,” Mark says.

Heather Webber, community development pastor with Bethany Chapel, will be sharing her church’s story at the half-day event on Nov. 22.

Heather has been at the forefront of Bethany Chapel’s community involvement work for the last dozen years. The church’s efforts range from hosting three English as a Second Language conversational classes, a homework club in partnership with a couple of other organizations to providing the neighbourhood dinners and the aforementioned clothing shop, plus much more.

“My hope is to inspire other . . . churches to get involved in the community,” Heather says.

Doing so is definitely a win-win, she adds. “We’ve learned so much from the community and the people that we’ve met. It’s an exchange of talents and gifts.”

To learn more and register for the Nov. 22 event, click here.

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