Extending Grace and Igniting Hope—this is the vision of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.
I would like to tell you a story of grace and hope being lived in dramatic ways under the guidance, inspiration, and tireless efforts of two ministry leaders in our church family.
When God stirs a passion in the human heart, there is no telling where it may take you or those who fall under their influence and leadership. We have been blessed to see what a vision can do to bless an entire city!
Scripture speaks to us about seeking the well-being of the city where we dwell. The setting of Babylon in the ancient world of the exiled Israelites has become a familiar context for God’s people today.
The leadership at Smythe Street Church has challenged us to seek God’s blessing on behalf of our city, and the people have engaged in this vision—sowing the seeds of compassion for our beloved city of Fredericton.
Pastor Verner—Lead Pastor—Smythe Street Church
Pastor Verner has consistently challenged our church to be a people of great compassion for those in need. He has consistently encouraged us to look beyond the context of our church family to see the needs of the impoverished and homeless.
For many years now, when the vision of our church is being carefully and prayerfully cast, one of the mountains that Pastor Verner has been consistently determined to tackle is the mountain of homelessness. This caught the attention and captured the hearts of our parishioners, and the results have been truly inspiring.
The Best Church For the City
At the urging of Pastor Verner, our leadership team and family of believers decided that they would not strive to be the best church in the city, but rather, the best church for the city.
Leadership Inspires Action
The casting of a passionate vision for the marginalized resulted in an outpouring of resources for the homeless and impoverished of Fredericton. In the year 2021 alone, Smythe Street Church invested in the people of our city who were struggling with the effects of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and poor mental health.
The church family at Smythe Street Church gave more to the ministry of Care in 2021 than at any other time in the history of our church.
Tangible Results that Touch the Needy and Glorify God
Each year we see these acts of compassion in growing numbers…
- In the past year alone, 69 individuals, through the direct intervention of our church’s ministry of care, have been prevented from being homeless.
- The number of housed families expands to 126 when we factor in the partnership we have established with some key agencies in our city.
- 40 families were provided with an overflowing hamper of food at Christmas.
- Dozens of families were provided with food assistance throughout the year.
- Prescription costs were covered for over 15 individuals who could not pay for proper medication.
- Over 30 families were provided with a home starter basket as they moved into safe and affordable housing, some of them coming directly out of tents into a warm bed they could call their own.
- Advocacy with various social agencies and programs was provided for over 50 families and individuals.
- On-site visits and care assessments were made weekly for those dwelling in tents at various spots throughout the city. This is a ministry of Care that was a product of the vision cast in our church. Bill, an SSC family member, faithfully and capably leads a ministry called “Under the Tent.”
- Transportation costs were alleviated for 20+families.
This is only a very brief snapshot of the many facets of the Care Ministry at SSC.
Jill—Creative Arts Director—Smythe Street Church
At this point, I must introduce another key player in the advancement of Care in our church. Her name is Jill. The numbers you see above would not have been possible without her impassioned leadership on behalf of the impoverished.
It’s not so unusual that the connection would be made between the ministry of worship and ministry for those who suffer from poverty. Jill was moved by the truths of scripture many years ago, that state clearly, that our worship is not restricted to the faith gatherings of the body of Christ.
Our God-glorifying activity is also seen in how we care for the homeless and the marginalized.
Under Jill’s excellent leadership and passion for the hurting, the following has happened in our church and city…
Eviction Prevention and Stable Housing
The above-mentioned statistics defining the numbers for eviction prevention are a direct result of tireless efforts made to connect with and assess the needs of the homeless.
A Christ Honoring Reputation
The reputation of our church has grown to the point where various social agencies in our city have developed a deep and appreciated relationship with Smythe Street Church. Regular calls and collaboration have become the norm between Smythe Street Church and the people on the front lines of poverty alleviation in our city.
The result has not just been the direct relief provided for the homeless, but the establishing of a tremendous witness for Christ among those who work in social agencies in our city.
What God is doing through our church to show love and care for those in need has been amplified through mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships with various agencies in our city who care about the same things we care about.
The ”By-Names” List
Smythe Street Church is seen as a vital partner with many agencies across our city, but…
One of these key agencies in our city is the “By Names” List. This is a working committee that identifies “by name” the people who are homeless—working to get them off the street and into a place of their own.
This working group was able to get 126 people off the street and into a safe dwelling during this past year!
It Gets Even Better
In conjunction with the United Way of Fredericton our church became the recipient of four newly constructed housing units, which will sit on a parcel of ground in our city (targeted completion is Summer 2022), and will house 4 people who will be rescued from homelessness and placed in a safe, beautiful, and functional apartment for as long as they are in need.
The properties were not only given to us free of charge (funded and built by local businesses) but there is a budget provided to fund the maintenance and upkeep of the properties. This was a result of the partnership that Jill has fostered with others in our city who care for the homeless.
Walking With Those in Need
A crucial element has been put in place when it comes to keeping the homeless housed. The need for friendship and companionship is key when it comes to the well-being of the hurting and marginalized.
Money is not enough.
In response to this three teams of six people were assigned one individual each for the period of one year with the goal of consistent, loving, supportive weekly connection. The result has been very encouraging. A marked change was seen in those who became a part of what is called a SUN Lite team.
Stability and well-being were strengthened where there had been consistent patterns of emotional, mental, and physical dysfunction. This was a direct result of the friendships that our church teams provided through SUN Lite.
A Growing Partnership
The ministry of Care has inspired other churches in our city. The SUN Lite ministry has expanded to include inter-church teams who are walking with our dear friends and enabling them to break the hurtful effects of poverty. This is a picture of a training event held at our church where key leaders from churches in our city were invited to learn how to be a part of a SUN Lite Team.
It is my belief that grace has been extended and hope has been ignited!
Wayne Flowers serves at Smythe Street Church in the Care, Connections, and Teaching Ministries.
In his free time, you will find him enjoying life with his wife, Brenda, and their family, playing music, or enjoying the outdoors.
Wayne loves hearing people’s stories of coming to know Jesus and inspiring them to use their gifts to serve Jesus.