Compassionate Ministries is transitioning out of COVID-19
Centre Street Church has always been a church in the community for the community. When COVID-related gathering restrictions first arose, we prayerfully re-imagined how we would continue to be in the community, being the love of Jesus, building connection and serving people in need. The Lord provided in amazing ways so that we could serve people through the provision of prepared meals including boxed lunches and frozen dinners, along with thousands of notes of encouragement written by our congregation to encourage diverse people in need from all walks of life.
The vision God has put on our hearts is one in which the provision of food, clothing and other basic needs becomes a doorway to deeper community, meaningful relationships and more pathways for life change in the name of Jesus.
We celebrate the serving of our one hundred thousandth meal in April 2022! And in May, as COVID restrictions are removed we sense God leading us to open our doors once again for people in need to receive food in a community setting. With the demand for boxed meals decreasing and demand for community increasing, we are transition from a primary focus on boxed lunches and frozen dinners, towards building relationships and providing community. ‘The Well’ café is now open twice a week for boxed lunches, hot meals, fun and opportunities to be in relationship and meet the needs of those we serve. Our food and clothing hampers, along with emergency provision of other basic needs for people in crisis and distress will also continue to be available.
If you have any further questions about our COVID-19 Food Ministry and our transition back to in-person ministries please see our FAQ.
To learn more about our Compassionate Ministries and what is/will be available for people in need beginning May 2022 visit here.
To learn more about our vision to BUILD more room for God through the Centre for the City, where we will have more space to resume our Monthly Community Meals, visit here.
The Centre for the City exists to partner, love and walk alongside people in deepest need. We also support new immigrants & refugees, while building stronger bridges between the church, community partners, and concerned Calgarians.
By consolidating our Compassionate Ministries and our New Canadian Friendship Centre into one facility, designed with a missional purpose, we now have the opportunity to transform Central Campus into a hub for mission work, allowing all ministries to work together to serve with more efficiency, building stronger bridges between the church, community partners and concerned Calgarians.
The facility will provide 11,077 square feet of dedicated space, and access to other multi-use spaces in the Central Campus expansion, increasing our capacity to support those in need with food, clothing and intentional spaces for training, classes and community.
The ‘Centre of the City’ will be a place of welcome, refuge and hope for those in need or those simply looking for a place to belong. Just picture it. People coming to a safe place to make appointments and drop in for a cup of coffee, prayer and support in whatever they may be struggling with. They can be a part of mentorship programs (for individuals or families), as well as opportunities to access the gym and other multi-use spaces for fun activities and gatherings like Crossover Sports, monthly community meals, a play structure for children while families connect, and more.
You can support this vision by donating to our projects to BUILD more room for God.
We walk alongside people who are new to Canada, giving friendship, and practical help to be a part of Canadian life. We help all people, including refugees, and refugee claimants, regardless of their immigration status. Our classes and programs are designed to provide practical learning for Canadian life, as well as opportunities for building friendship, community and conversation skills. Some of the classes offered to people new to Canada include:
We offer classes to learn English (as an additional language), and Pronunciation Classes to help newcomers correct English sounds and practice relaxed speech. Presently these classes may be offered in person or online.
We help people preparing to write their Canadian citizenship exam, or people who simply want to learn more about Canadian ways of life, government and history.
We enjoy community and meet new people while learning traditional Canadian style baking and cooking (using Canadian standards, ovens, recipes, etc.), or sharing recipes and foods from our home countries with each other. People also learn how to substitute healthier ingredients into recipes as well as Canadian tips to shop for and value nutrition.
People can come to learn to knit or sew while making new friends and practicing English skills.
We give women new to Canada opportunities to learn skills in sewing and needlework. They receive mentorship to market their quality handcrafted items.
New Canadians can stop by the Café for free snacks and drinks and to visit and share stories and friendship with other newcomers to Canada and with our volunteers.
We offer a safe and fun learning environment by providing age-appropriate activities including Bible stories, songs, activities and games. Childcare is offered for parents of preschool children who attend morning classes.
ESL Bible studies introduce the Bible to those curious about the Christian faith in an easy to understand English format; Bible studies in other languages offer community and discipleship in a newcomer’s mother tongue.
We offer a variety of workshops to help newcomers settle in Calgary, such as Job Skills, Resume Support, Financial Health, Understanding Canadian Culture, and more.
People come to CSC’s Compassionate Ministries to receive short-term relief for basic needs and a sense of love and community. For those that wish to pursue a journey of deeper life change we work with them to build a larger plan of action that all integrates multiple dimensions of well being… skill development, job readiness, emotional and mental health, community, belonging and purpose.
Specifically designed for building connection with people in deep poverty, Monday and Wednesday night drop-ins and monthly meals provide a space for people to use the food bank or clothing bank and then come into our café, ‘The Well,’ to enjoy a hot drink, some games, and a listening ear.
While our ministry provides support to those living in poverty, we also seek to help in ways that promote sustainability to people in need. We provide access to computers, networking and resources, potential employment and volunteer opportunities at the clothing store, and certification training for employment (e.g. food safety) to empower people to get back up on their feet. The Job Search and Life skills area offers resources such as budgeting, resume writing help and job search skills to help people explore job opportunities in the city.
Each week food gatherings and ministries serve as potential doorways for life change as we make connections and book appointments to support emergency needs and address a desire to move beyond the “band-aid” solutions and address the deeper issues behind cycles of poverty.
Step One: An initial assessment allows volunteers to provide short term relief for people’s practical needs. First steps are an opportunity to demonstrate more care and concern for the deeper issues.
Step Two: Volunteers use a Life Budget approach to gain greater understanding of each person’s needs (financial, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual) so they can create an action plan to support each ‘friend’ or ‘neighbour’ more deeply and connect them to a supportive community.
We’ve seen a growing number of people coming with diagnosed or non-diagnosed mental health issues. Knowing CSC needed to be more intentional and equipped to serve people with mental health challenges, a collaborative partnership was established with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
We have since expanded partnerships with other organizations and people, offering expertise to walk closely with those struggling with mental health issues. This includes working with the ‘Calgary Scope Society,’ which has offered training to CSC leadership in identifying particular types of mental illnesses, and engaging with the appropriate community supports, including City of Calgary social workers and area agencies.
We provide free clothing for those in need and those who desire to dress for success. Gently used clothing provides dignity and value to those seeking to meet this practical need in their lives. The Centre for the City will allow us to expand this vision into a fully operational store that would also provide skill development and employment opportunities for people in a life change journey.
We run a satellite food hamper depot of the Calgary Food Bank. Centre Street Church’s location is the Food Bank’s largest and busiest depot running four times a week” Monday and Wednesday evenings (in conjunction with the ‘The Well’ café) and Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10:00-11:30 am.
These monthly meals for the wider community are so well attended, they require more space. These will resume (after a hiatus during COVID) once we have finalized construction of our Centre for the City. To learn more about the vision for this exciting construction project click here.
Most common among churches, the benevolence model meant that when people came to the church seeking help, we reactively provided food and resources on a case by case basis. Food drives and mission work to feed the homeless were common throughout CSC history.
Led by Pastor Ashwin Ramani, the NCFC is launched to walk alongside new Canadians, offering them the support they need to navigate a new culture, new climate, foreign language, social isolation, job security and other challenges.
More people come to CSC seeking help for their physical needs, especially food. Church leaders pray for guidance. “God shifted my thinking. We didn’t need a strategy. We needed a miracle. I prayed for mana from heaven,” says Pastor Brad Friesen.
Calgary Food Bank comes to CSC inviting us into a partnership. “We’ll provide the food if you provide the space,” they say. Pastor Brad says, “we’re in.”
The compassionate approach is a proactive and strategic outreach model. It addresses the many dimensions that contribute to cycles of poverty - the physical, mental, emotional, community and spiritual needs of the whole person. People in need come to CSC to receive short-term relief for basic needs, before being brought into a larger plan of action called a ‘Life Budget’ or ‘Life Journey.’
West Campus is sold to Chinese Christian Wing Kei Nursing Home Association. Sale proceeds are slated to fund the expansion of Central Campus to address growing demand for space for Compassionate Ministries among other CSC ministries.
Compassionate Ministries launches Monday evening drop-in ministries, including: ‘The Well’ café, food bank, clothing bank, skills training and other classes to help people in poverty move forward in their lives.
CSC launches its journey to build Northwest Campus and to expand Central Campus to increase ministry opportunities to marginalized people groups and to accommodate the growing needs of Calgarians and other ministry programs.
Compassionate Friends program pilot is launched.
Program connects people in the Life Budget program with mentors from the congregation, providing additional community, friendship and support
Compassionate Ministries launches Monthly Community Meals.
Compassionate Ministries distributes 2,493 hampers and serves 1535 Monthly Community Meals. An average of 70 people per week come to ‘The Well’ café to find true community. 52 people are connected into our Career Connection Network. 200 people go through the Life Journey process to experience deeper life change.
The need for food increases among Calgarians as thousands of additional families experience layoffs. We expand our food ministry to include prepared meals, so we can feed more people who are vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 including seniors, new Canadians, individuals or families facing layoffs, or with low or limited income, families with young children, and individuals with medical conditions, mental health challenges and limited access to support.
From July to December, the number of people being served by Compassionate Ministry increases over 600% as we move from serving an average of 899 people each month (in 2019) to serving an average of 5475 people per month (in 2020).
NCFC continues to provide a sense of stability, safety, connection and hope to people new to Canada - moving many communities online where people can connect with a familiar face.
As COVID restrictions are dropped, we sense God leading us to open our doors for in-person ministry once again. We continue serving some boxed lunches and frozen meals, while transitioning towards more in-person ministries by reopening The Well Café and Life Journey ministry. Monthly Meals will be deferred until construction for the Centre for the City is complete and we have more room.
Anticipated completion of construction (or partial completion, allowing for basic use of the space) of the new Centre for the City will be potentially in 2023.
Your donations to BUILD more room for God contribute to making our Centre for the City vision possible.
To learn more about our BUILD projects and how the Centre for the City follow the button below: