I worshipped at the Church of the Holy Spirit in FortFrances, ON – another community where one of the primary industries is pulp and paper. This congregation (which is one of the “hugging-ist” in existence) is pastored by Diane Clifford and meets in a converted neighborhood store. Diane is a bi-vocational pastor who works at the community hospital as an administrative assistant where she is also often called upon to provide pastoral care. As a consequence of Diane working full time, there is a strong living out of the priesthood of all believers in this congregation’s worship experience and the weekday ministries. Volunteerism within the congregation is exceptionally high… and joy-filled. Caring for and reaching out to others is done at the least provocation! J
These folks are living out a dream of giving at least 50% of the funds that they receive to people and projects outside of the church. They also see their multi-purpose worship area as being readily available for various community groups to use – e.g. those ministering to people struggling with various addictions and almost every evening, someone is using the facility. As members of the congregation become aware of needs, they move to do what they can to respond. (e.g. They keep a clothing closet at the hospital stocked with clothes for destitute people who arrive through the emergency department without a change of clothing – socks, sweaters, underwear, pants – it’s all there for distribution by hospital staff.)
Their reach is beyond Ft.Frances though – they partner in supporting FMCiC church planting through participation in the “100 Church Challenge.” They have twinned themselves with “The Comm” in Simcoe, Ontario, and regularly encourage and pray for this church plant. They also give money to dig wells in other parts of the world–and these are only some of the things that I heard about!