Freedom Renewal Centre Thrives
It has been said that; “There is a highway to the heart of God.” At the Freedom Renewal Centre, an outreach ministry of St. Luke’s United, Tantallon, NS, this highway is well traveled. With gratitude and faith in hearts mixed with love toward God and neighbors, Lady Wisdom is building a house at the Renewal Centre, where the vision is “Creating Loving Community” and the mission is “Come, Share, and Become”. The seven pillars lifted up to experience God are: mission, vision, safety, the deep value of each person, unity, spirit, and compassion. Hope at FRC is built on nothing less than holy trust in Jesus, Lord of all.
Freedom Renewal Centre specializes in gathering different groups of people who normally wouldn’t come together, and fostering relationships between them. The spiritual focus is on meeting people where they are, and on creating a space to find peace and tranquility away from the stresses of daily living. Renewal at the Centre reflects the aspirations, gifts and needs of people as they identify them.
Described as a welcoming place of renewal; a sacred community of ‘us’ rather than ‘us/them’ has evolved. Relationships are built on sharing the gifts that each person has to offer rather than being concerned with where they are from or what is their socio-economic status. As a result, an intertwining of giving and receiving has emerged where often the line is blurred as to who is a giver or a receiver.
FRC’s signature is the elemental shared nutritious meal that is always a part of the day. A congregant, at St. Luke’s, who volunteers at the Centre was once noted for saying: “Where else can someone like me come to join others who may be experiencing homelessness, poverty, addictions, isolation, grief; partake in life giving activities together, share meal preparation, then eat together at the same table, and have deep and meaningful conversation.”
With the generous support of Maritime Conference and the National Church, many individuals from St. Luke’s and the wider community have come together to engage in the activities in this unique sanctuary space since the doors opened in January 2012. For example, members of Connections Clubhouse, an inner city agency that supports those living mental illness came for a day. A St. Luke’s congregant provided lunch and a local community quilter led a make your own quilt art activity. The quilter said she felt that she had learned more than showing someone how to quilt. This particular day was marked by wonderful conversations with a Muslim gentleman, a Jewish woman, a Christian from Yugoslavia, and St. Luke’s volunteers regarding their experiences with God. All shared in a meaningful deep way, learning something about God at work in their lives. Many other days like this have occurred with other groups of people including a Thursday Men’s Group which has really woven itself into the fabric of the community. God is found in the ordinary at FRC, Christ in each person met.
The prayerful desire is to grow the FRC community as wide as possible, bringing new life along the way. Several agencies and organizations have collaborated in the building of meaningful and appropriate programming. Most recently, the local high school has involved students in the preparation and sharing of meals and conversation.
The value and impact of this unique outreach project is best summed up in the words of a recent visitor:
“Thank you very much for the beautiful day. I enjoyed the trail, the dog, the sharing of the meal, the friendship. When I got home I thought what is that strange feeling I have….oh….I feel normal, like a human being with a bit of dignity. You are making a difference with your program, at least to me you are. I can’t express how grateful I am.” A friend of Freedom Renewal Centre