Rev. Jennifer Ferguson is on a mission in Parksville to bring people together.
Alongside the team at Knox United Church, Ferguson is once again hosting a series of community cafes dubbed ‘The Gathering Place’ on Tuesdays at the church.
Each Tuesday in November will be devoted to welcoming people from different backgrounds to come and share company through a series of drop-in events.
Ferguson says the whole point is for people to come together, build community and talk about meaningful things.
“People are lonely, and they feel isolated, and they feel like they’re doing their life journey on their own. And they’re not. We have seven billion people on the planet. So there’s no reason you have to be lonely, or isolated. There’s a lot of caring out there if we just take a risk, and talk to one another and really have meaningful conversation,” said Ferguson.
The morning starts with the ‘Good Morning Coffee Break’ from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The $2 drop in session is focused on bringing people together who may be experiencing isolation. It’s open to people of all ages, and features coffee, tea and baked goods. ‘What’s For Lunch’ starts at 12 p.m. and runs until 2 p.m., and is a place where seniors can gather to share lunch, and each other’s company. The drop in fee is $10, and lunch consists of a special entree, dessert and coffee.
The final segment of the day is a youth after school drop-in for $2, complete with snacks, refreshments, ping pong and other games. That takes place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a place where students can unwind after a long school day and play games with friends.
Ferguson wants to encourage the youth of today to think critically about problems facing the world, and come up with solutions. She’s especially excited to welcome the hundreds of international students that are calling Parksville Qualicum Beach home for the year.
The Gathering Place was born out of Ferguson’s journey to listen to what the people of Parksville needed, and try and fill gaps that were missing.
“We met with 16 different community leaders. We went and we listened in on community concerns. Went into coffee shops, went into SOS, went to different places and just sort of listened in on different conversations about what people cared about,” said Ferguson.
“What we heard was, people feel isolated. And people are suffering with loneliness. And people are struggling on their own. So then we prayed and asked for discernment, and came up with the mission of ‘guided by the creative spirit of God, we strive to build community that cares, shares and dares.’”
The sessions started in May and June and were so successful that the church decided to bring them back. It’s important to note that the gatherings are open to people of all faiths.
Although the sessions have suggested donations, no one is turned away for lack of funds. The point is to build community and reach out to people.
Knox United Church is located at 345 Pym St. in Parksville. For more information, visit www.kucparksville.ca.