When Sally Meyer (CCS graduate, 2004) needed to get the word out about the needs of the people of Lac Mégantic, she drew on her various networks and connections, including the Centre for Christian Studies community.
Sally is the minister of St. Lambert United Church serving a wide area of the South Shore of Montreal, less than three hours away from the small town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that was rocked on July 6th when a train derailed and its crude oil cargo exploded. The immediacy of the disaster and the 47 funerals have passed, but questions remain:
- Who will pay for the clean up?
- How can the toxic carcinogens in the air, earth, and nearby lake be addressed?
- Where does a community with no downtown infrastructure begin to rebuild?
- What will restore the spirit of people whose families are ripped apart by death?
The struggles and pain of the people of Lac Mégantic will continue for a very long time. Sally and the St. Lambert congregation are concerned about these questions.
“I serve as minister in a city built because of the railroad and the last stop on the Maritime line before Montreal. An elderly woman from a railroad family, who has called St. Lambert United home since the cornerstone was laid in 1937 says, ‘We have to do something. We always give to special appeals, why is this different?’”
Sally recalling the words of the creed, “We are not alone” started working with her congregation “to get things done”. They have issued an appeal which led to mobilizing other contacts through CCS, facebook, Montreal and Ottawa Conference, the United Church of Canada and its moderator, Gary Patterson.
She wrote a moving call to action that has been sent out widely and posted on the Conference website:
The people of Lac Mégantic are kin and we are invited to grow in wisdom and compassion that challenges us to make our choices matter. The web of life that weaves us all together in our Creator’s name is weathering a human and environmental catastrophe. As we are blessed, may we take this opportunity to bless others. Please give generously to the Canadian Red Cross.
This issue is more than a local one; it is a national disaster. Sally’s efforts to get the whole church involved, however, have not been without obstacles. “That’s when I dig in my heels,” she says.
Sally continues to advocate for a broad response while working with the congregation’s newly formed praise band to organize a fundraising dance. Sally, whose passion for people on the edge was nurtured at the Centre for Christian Studies, is challenging all of us “to make our lives and choices matter”.
Written by CCS Development Coordinator, Lori Stewart