There was a lot of love in and around St. Paul's located in Vancouver's West End on Valentine's Day, 2010.
The rector, Rev. Markus Duenzkofer, parish leaders and the community welcomed their ministry partners "Our House!" Our House is a group of people living together to follow a simple program aimed at freeing themselves from their addictions to alcohol and drugs. They share the cost and labour of maintaining their communal life, while undertaking to help each other live clean and drug-free lives. The program is based on self-help and employs no professional staff.
Founder Norman Sharkey himself a recovering addict began the program 34 years ago and lives with the current group at the Our House Union Street location in Vancouver.
Four years ago Norman and board members approached the leadership of St. Paul's about how the two organizations could work together in shared ministry and both sides agreed to give it a go. As part of their outreach to street people, members of Our House meet at 2:00pm every Thursday afternoon at St Paul’s Church Hall, 1140 Jervis Street in Vancouver’s West End.
On Sunday, February 14th during both the 9:15 and 11am Celebrations of Eucharist, Our House participants/residents were encouraged to speak and share with the congregation their feelings about how Our House and particularly Norman Sharkey's ministry has impacted their lives. The recurring thread in every testimonial was the word love. Each speaker said that they were shown love and given love and through that experience had learned to love others and themselves.
Half a dozen people spoke, one sang an original song and after these testimonials, Rev. Markus Duenzkofer asked that any parishioners who wished to respond to the testimony please do so, but good-naturedly asked that they keep it brief. During this segment of the service, members of the St. Paul's community shared (some with tears in their eyes) their feelings about how this shared ministry has changed the way they see people on the street with drug and alcohol dependency. One parishioner said "I see the face of God in the faces of the Our House people and that has changed how I see everyone on the street."
If you would like more information about Our House
and learn about opportunities to support this organization please click OUR HOUSE