Vancouver City Hall: Churches No Place For Poor
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
The not in my backyard syndrome is alive and well amongst residents of a small Vancouver neighbourhood near City Hall, some displeased residents one can only assume work at City hall. The one edict Churches, Mosques, Synagogyues and other Religious organizations role for thousands of years was to feed, clothe, shelter and offer spiritual guidance to the poor . This seems lost on the "Unclear on the Church Concept Crowd" who do not wish their tree lined streets tainted by having a "transient way" to a meal at a place of worship.
This neighbourhood fearing the worst, drug addicts, binners, homeless, crime, prostitution etc trolling their neighbourhoods. Perhaps if Mayor Sammy and other ill informed bureaucrats concentrated on stiffer laws on crime instead of harrassing churches we would not be in the crime ridden situation we are currently in.
Polls on Working Canadians showed most Canadians, especially those in lower incomes with families are only a paycheque away from being homeless and for most working Canadians, homelessness can be a month's paycheque away.
Most Canadians are not drug addled, for a lot of them, they just need temporary help to get back on their feet.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than a family without food and shelter, the hopelessness when the heads of the household feel they have failed in providing for their children. It's hard enough for parents to swallow their pride and utilise these social services, but to also strip them of their dignity by uncaring city officials is the last straw.
My Final Thought
It is said, "walk a mile in my shoes", perhaps this message is lost on this neighbourhood.
[q url="http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=ca979cfa-09fb-4961-be03-e204b4346496&k=27738"]Fourteen worried interfaith leaders spoke out strongly on Friday against what they called Vancouver city hall's unprecedented attempt to define a religious building as solely a place for worshipping God, not a place from which to serve the poor.
The Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders rallied to support Tenth Avenue Alliance Church's longstanding mission to offer meals and a place to sleep to scores of homeless people -- despite the protests of a handful of nearby residents who say they fear poor people bringing drugs and crime to the increasingly upscale neighbourhood.
The diverse religious leaders are deeply concerned faith communities across the country could be harmed by Vancouver city hall's unusual attempt to make Tenth Avenue Alliance Church, a 1,200-member evangelical congregation at the corner of Ontario and Tenth, take out a "social-service-use" permit so its members can continue to volunteer to support the destitute.
From left: San Chan, Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Ministries Fellowship; Dave Diewert, Streams of Justice; Mardi Dolfo-Smith, Tenth Avenue Alliance; Bill Chu, Chinese Christians in Action.View Larger Image View Larger Image
From left: San Chan, Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Ministries Fellowship; Dave Diewert, Streams of Justice; Mardi Dolfo-Smith, Tenth Avenue Alliance; Bill Chu, Chinese Christians in Action.
Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun
"Historically and theologically, the Christian church has always taught that it's more than a place to praise God: It is called to serve the poor and the needy and to seek justice for the least among us," said Bill Chu, a member of Grandview Calvary Baptist church who organized the social-action group, Faith Communities Called to Solidarity with the Poor.
Under Chu's leadership, the organization has gained significant backing from key Chinese evangelical Christian pastors, as well as the leaders of many faiths.
"One of the five pillars of Islam is to provide charity. So we're disturbed when the city dictates to us that our purpose must be restricted to worship only," said Raza Mirani, past-president of the Pakistan Canada Association, speaking on behalf of Muslims.
After the evangelical, mainline Protestant, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh leaders and clergy described on Friday how each of their faiths teaches that serving the needy is a sacred mandate, they called on Vancouver city councillors to immediately withdraw the city's first attempt to make a religious organization apply for the "social-service-use" permit.
Among other things, the permit would require the church to police the poor as they gather and obtain information about their place of residence.
"We want to offer dignity to fellow human beings, not be a source of surveillance, policing and data collection," said David Diewart, a sessional lecturer at Regent College, an evangelical graduate school on the UBC campus.
Like other speakers at the rare gathering of multi-faith leaders, Diewart was concerned that Mayor Sam Sullivan's proposed Civil City program, headed by former Liberal cabinet minister Geoff Plant, will end up being another way to justify harassing and "criminalizing" Vancouver's poor people prior to 2010.
Susan Henry, a program leader in the First United Church in the Downtown Eastside, read a statement of support for Tenth Avenue Alliance's program from United Church of Canada moderator David Giuliano.
Henry said she feared city hall might soon require First United Church, which for years has allowed 80 street people a day to sleep in its pews, to also apply for a "social-services-use" permit.
Tenth Avenue Alliance Pastor Mardi Dolfo-Smith said her large
congregation offers a drop-in lunch for more than 100 people that's
been running for about nine years, a one-night-a-week dinner for
another 100 people and an overnight shelter program for 25 people.
the protest beyond the specifics of Tenth Avenue Alliance Church, Rabbi
David Mivasair, of Ahavat Olam Synagogue, emphasized that many
Christian churches, Sikh gurdwaras, Jewish synagogues and other places
of worship have long had traditions of offering food and lodging to
members of their community and others.
Are all those religious groups, he asked rhetorically, now to be asked to take out "social-service-use" permits?
The multi-ethnic speakers urged the public to sign their petition
before the end of August and to seek more information about their
campaign on behalf of the poor from the website,
City hall officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.