Incarcerated work crew transforms church

When men from the local correctional facility started volunteering at St. Andrews United in Yorkton, it tranformed everyone. Diaconal minister Jen Dresser shares this story.

Three summers ago, the church people had gone to the lake and no one could mow the lawn. That’s when it started.

Whitespruce Training Centre—a pilot project at a new provincial correctional facility had a new work crew that was looking for things to do. One morning a van pulled up, and six men got out. They mowed grass, trimmed hedges, pulled weeds and came back once a week for the rest of the summer. They washed the big tall windows no one else would climb a ladder to clean.

When fall came, there was less outdoor work, and the work crew was still looking for things to do. They shovelled snow for seniors. They came inside and painted walls, shampooed carpets, cut out templates for children’s programs, made soup mixes for the food shelf, barbequed for the garage sale and moved the big, heavy tables for funerals and teas. There was some discomfort within the congregation about having people from the Whitespruce around. Was it safe? Would things go missing? Would someone get attacked?

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Courageous Risking at DUCC Gathering 2018

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

The Diaconal story begins with the radical image of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, and includes the examples of courageous risk-taking of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers, dining with the marginalized, and healing the outcasts. Jesus pushes us to think outside the box. His message is always to find another way, a better way.

What does it mean to actively engage in courageous risking? Most of us don’t recognize when we are doing it. What one person calls risky is not necessarily what another person would call risk taking.

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