This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 1, 2015

Smarter Outreach

Every week people in need call our church or knock on our door. They need bus tickets to get to medical appointments, or a food voucher to tide them over until their government cheque comes through, or help with their rent. Sometimes they’re scamming us. Sometimes they just need someone to hear their story of bad luck and hard choices. And sometimes we can help. But a church is not well suited to be a social service outpost. We have limited resources to offer—of both time and money—and nothing but common sense to guide us. We can offer emergency support, but often the circumstances are complex, and they will not be significantly altered by whatever help we provide. So Clara King and Dariel Bateman have been preparing a strategy to make our outreach more effective. First stop—the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS), which has the trained staff, the financial resources, and the information technology to respond effectively to people in need. Second stop—the four other churches in our neighbourhood who, like us, receive weekly requests for help. Clearer communication and better cooperation means we can do more effective intake at the door and get people to CUPS or other agencies who can provide assistance. This leaves us with the role we ARE well suited to play: pastoral support, and a faith community to assist with the healing of wounded people. We will still offer tangible help, but now only as part of a deeper supportive relationship.

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