Sunday, January 22, 2017

Strengthening our communities

Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings - “Come in, come in and sit down – you are part of the family” is sung with gusto in many of our churches. But are we actually that inclusive?

One of our rural values encourages us to try to build healthy communities. We can choose to actively participate in this endeavour. Or we can simply let things float along and hope for the best!

Many new immigrants to Canada come to our smaller communities. We’ve become aware of them serving in the A&W or at the gas station. We may even be aware that the manager at the local motel was born elsewhere. But have we thought about how we might extend a welcome, spend some time getting to know the family and help them feel a sense of belonging?

We started a Multicultural Friendship Group in our community. Participants bring their cabbage rolls, oat cakes, bannock, bratwurst and Icelandic delicacies for our pot-luck supper-gatherings. Many are folks who came to Canada thirty or forty years ago. Each participant is eager to learn from others and share their own cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, conflicting work schedules, child care and shyness make it difficult for more recent newcomers to join us. 

But, when it comes to actively building multicultural awareness and sensitivity into our community’s agenda, I tip my hat to the younger generation. They are making sure to incorporate inter-cultural programs and activities at playschool, kindergarten and at the Library. It will be our children, in turn, as they share their global experiences, who will help all of us build communities that are proud to be inclusive and healthy.

“Children and elders, middlers and teens … greeters and shoppers, long-time and new, nobody here has a claim on a pew … There’s rest for the weary and health for us all … Come in and worship and answer the call, for we are a part of the family.” (Hymn writer Jim Manley)

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