Guests at Newtonbrook United Church

The following is a letter which we at Newtonbrook United Church send each month to the politicians who were elected by people in the community where we do ministry.

“Some give freely, yet grow all the richer;

others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.”

Proverbs 11:24 (NRSV)

Dear Mayor Ford:

In July 2010 the Council of the City of Toronto unanimously endorsed a report titled; “In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, housing and Homelessness.” This letter is about what happens when governments at all levels fail to take action on reports such as that one. In short, all of us suffer.

For several months I have been forwarding some statistical information about a special ministry of Newtonbrook United Church and the Taiwanese United Church in Toronto. This ministry is to people who live on the margins of our society. I know that you are interested in receiving this data each month so that you too can advocate for those for whom life is very challenging. I suspect that is one of the reasons why you voted in July 2010 to endorse the “In From the Margins” report.

On Wednesdays Newtonbrook United Church and the Taiwanese United Church in Toronto open our doors for anyone who wishes to be our guest for breakfast, or lunch. This program began eleven years ago as an “emergency” service to our community. If you have ever been at this Drop Inn you will know how humbling an experience it is. You are welcome to visit on any Wednesday from 8 am to 1pm.

I wanted to bring you some of our data for the month of October, 2011. The number of meals that we served weekly is as follows:

October 5                                          145 meals

October 12                                        167

October 19                                        155

October 26                                        156

Total                                                  623

This week there were six of our guests who also took showers here at 53 Cummer Avenue. What does it mean to have to go to a church in order to have a shower?

This ministry is funded by generous donations to our two congregations, and does not receive any financial support from other agencies or governments.

As you know, poverty can happen to anyone. Living below the poverty line is a tough job – one that I’d never want to try. It means not having enough money to purchase basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing. Here at the Drop Inn we can provide some of these, on a temporary basis, but our Drop Inn is not the long-term solution. I suspect that you and I agree on that.

Our prayer is that we might work together to improve the health and well-being of every one of the people of this great City of Toronto. We are sending this information so that you might be able to use it to advocate for those who live on the margins of our society.  Toronto City Council has asked that the In From the Margins report be acted upon, and I hope that you will lead them to do so in the areas of Toronto’s responsibility.

Yours truly,

Rev. Allan Baker

Newtonbrook United Church

53 Cummer Ave.

Toronto, M2M 2E5

Cc Councilor David Shiner

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