Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


This past Sunday I was invited by my friend Prince Richard to attend the Rainbow Community Church. Rainbow is a gay church which has been in existence since 1986. Parishioners congregate at Saint John's United Church in the West End, Sadly, the St John's congregation has ceased operations and now ended its services, however, Rainbow has been given until May 18 to find a new home. Parishioners at First United Church who after 100 years of operations also ceased operations and replacing the congregation is a flop house for the drug addicted and mentally ill.

What I really found interesting at Rainbow Community Church was the spirited liveliness. Approximately 90 parishioners sang music, waved flags and some even danced in the aisles. Assistant Pastor Jeff Kirkey delivered a moving sermon about Geese who fly together as a flock and how they support one another in their V formation. If one Goose gets sick, other Geese accompany the sick goose out of the formation and stay with the sick goose until they are better. They then join another flock of geese. Mr. Kirkey articulated how this is like a community of people who are much stronger when they stay together, support and hold together when there are tough times.

Jeff Kirkey is a past Mr Gay Vancouver and as a past Miss Gay Vancouver myself, I was deeply moved by Jeff's sermon since we belong to a Pageantry system which does extensive fundraising and I know how important it is to work alongside others to achieve our collective goals.

After the religious aspect of the Rainbow Church services are over, the Vancouver Dream Centre which is part of the Rainbow Church group provides a very nourishing meal to those in attendance. They also provide food hampers to the needy who pick up their food after the service. There is an area providing clothing for those who need it.

While I do have reservations about the charitable services industry because I believe where justice prevails charity is unnecessary, however, I didn't get the sense that Rainbow Church practises enabling which many other charitable organizations do.

In fact, you must be in attendance at the Rainbow Church in order to later have the meal and to collect the food bank offerings. I could see that a number of people came in while the service is being conducted and I sensed many have a downtrodden background. They sat in back pews but to me at least they are participating in the community aspect to this Church. This extends a positive connectedness to others and these people know that they are not alone.

So often I have seen charities providing necessities of life but when those who are drug addicted know they can get their food, clothing and shelter provided for free, they use their paychecks or government support obtaining drugs and this vicious cycle keeps repeating itself, over and over again.

I wish Rainbow Community Church success in finding a new home and that it continues providing charitable work but I also caution them not to just provide charity for the sake of charity. I implore them to be cognizant of this--that until people also take responsibility for their lives and make some healthier lifestyle choices and not until they do this, the lives of those impoverished will not change for the better and no amount of compassionate charity will change this fact.

We must move beyond enabling and the charity, povertarian industry if society is to progress. Only then will citizens be truly free.

Jamie Lee Hamilton