“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” – Henri J. Nouwen, Reaching Out, 1975.
Dear Congregation of Central,
Every morning I cycle into the church I pass crossing guards on Dundurn and Herkimer. They greet children and parents on the way to school. They say good morning. I pass several bakeries. I also pass churches, houses, apartment buildings and shops. In short, to get to Central every morning, I go through the neighbourhood. I have made a similar ride from Central to City Hall. More neighbourhood. I have learned shortcuts through alleyways. More neighbourhood.
The Session of Central recently approved a series of discussions, initiated by the 175th Anniversary Committee, on how, in the next 5 years, Central might offer increased hospitality to this neighbourhood. We have the space in the Sunday School wing – a movement that first started in 1780s England as an outreach to impoverished children during the Industrial Revolution. We have the precedent – a strong and growing Hamilton Out of the Cold program and other mission connections. We have the people — our list currently stands at approximately 515, adults and children. And I believe that during our 175th Anniversary year we may nurture this vision.
As a start I will be hosting, with members of the 175th and Mission Committees, a brainstorming event on Wednesday, January 20th at 7:30 p.m. in the Allan Room. The purpose will be simple: to gather ideas of how God may be calling us to bless the local neighbourhood with the space we have available in the Sunday School wing of the church. At present, this is discussion, and your vision, ideas and input are needed that evening.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you in all things.
The Rev. Dr. J. Gregory Davidson