The Parish of St. James' again participated in the Heart of the City Festival in the Downtown Eastside. The 2018 Festival was the 15th installment of the annual event and featured twelve days of: music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, spoken word, forums, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibits, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.
During the October 28-November 4 run of the festival, St. James’ contributed five events. The first took place as part of the regular Wednesday Open Church Ministry, during which time the church throws open all three sets of doors to welcome people into the space, for prayer, to enjoy the architecture, or attend the regular Wednesday Mass. The open church ministry team provides ice-cold freezies during the hot summer months and hot drinks as the weather begun to turn.
On Halloween, the steps of the church were decorated with pumpkins and folks were invited to partake of gift bags containing candy and mini oranges with non-alcoholic hot apple cider for those seeking warmth and rest. At 2pm on Halloween a dozen people joined Allan Duncan for a tour of the church. Allan's knowledge of the history and architecture of the building is mind-blowing. He delighted the group with details of stones and relics, and included a smattering of stories about rectors past. At the end of the tour, visitors were invited to tour the bell tower with assistant organist PJ Janson who to everyone’s delight shared his knowledge of the bell tower and organ.
The All Souls Mass on Friday, November 2, and the All Saints High Mass on November 4 attracted those wishing to remember their loved ones who had died, and give thanks for the saints in light, who the people of St. James' look to as examples of faithfulness. At both services the choir shone, particularly with their presentation of the Duruflé Requiem.
St. James’ in collaboration with the Heart of the City organizers and singer Tayo Aluko produced Call Mr. Robeson, A Life with Songs. Over three hundred people attended this award-winning biographical musical theatre piece which showcases the remarkable life of the legendary Paul Robeson, African-American actor and singer. The play highlights Robeson’s pioneering and heroic political activism and features, songs such as Ol’ Man River, and his defiant testimony to the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Piano accompaniment was provided by Elaine Joe, a pianist, composer and teacher who has worked for many years with artists and organizations in the community.
Tayo's rich baritone and passionate performance received a standing ovation. Of course the show would not have been possible without Elaine Joe, and the hardworking organizers and volunteers of the festival, who dedicated hours of their time to bring people together through diverse festival events.
(A YouTube post brief promo trailer of the show put together a few years back is available below)
St. James' looks forward to collaborating with them again, and continues to seek ways to welcome the local community into our space.