Warming Room Community Ministries – St. John’s Anglican Church, Peterborough, Ontario
The mission of Warming Room Community Ministries (WRCM) is to nurture a community that challenges homelessness, food insecurity, and social exclusion in the City of Peterborough by responding to immediate needs, breaking down barriers amongst us and advocating for systemic change.
As Christians we are to reflect God and Christ by our selfless love for others. For this reason love must be the key value on which all our programs are built. When creating and running our programs we are to ask “what does love look like in this situation?” This also means putting the needs of those we are serving before the needs of the program itself.
All programs are to put relationship at the forefront. As Gustavo Guitierrez said “there is no solidarity with the poor without friendship with them”. We will look to build relationships with those we serve, making sure the poor, or anyone we serve, are never treated as an abstract concept, but rather as people with names created in the image of God.
In the creation and running of programs we will be in a continual state of listening to those we serve, those already serving the needs of our community and to the greater community of Peterborough. We will listen for needs that are not being met. We will listen for ways in which we can serve better, and listen to be sure that we are not hurting more then we are helping.
No one person, or organization, has all that is needed to create real community change. Just as Paul speaks of all the gifts of the church being needed to be the body of Christ, so in a community the gifts and strengths of all the various agencies and churches are needed to make a difference. Therefore we will never look to compete with other organizations, but rather we will look for ways to collaborate with those in our community who are working toward the same goals as we are. To this end WRCM tries to hold a unique place in the Peterborough landscape, by working as a bridge between community advocates and social service agencies. Both have much to offer in serving the most vulnerable in our community, but often they find it difficult to find common ground. WRCM looks to be that common ground relying on the gifts of both to best serve our neighbours.
The professionalization of social services, though it has led to much more specialized service, has resulted in the distancing of most of the community from those who are marginalized. Many in our community are looking for ways to serve their neighbour but struggle to know where to start if they have no professional background. We value volunteering as it brings people from diverse backgrounds together, allows individuals to have first hand experiences with poverty, and gives people a chance to serve in powerful and meaningful ways. We also believe that everyone has something to offer to the community. We look to find ways to empower anyone who would like to serve, using whatever gifts they have at their disposal.
Poverty is rooted in exclusion. Many of our most vulnerable neighbours have spent most of their lives being excluded from our community. Therefore to overcome poverty we need to practice radical inclusivity. For this reason our programs will always strive to welcome anyone into the WRCM community. This means creating spaces where people from all walks of life can interact and build relationship. It means creating places where all can be served and all can serve. We will strive to welcome anyone just as they are, and if community is broken, our goal will not be punishment but rather restoring relationship. We will also strive to include people with lived experience in all levels of the organization.
We realize that by definition creating a ministry that is based on love and relationship is going to be risky. That being said, we still want to reduce unnecessary risk whenever possible. Also many of those we serve have lived a long time without the comfort of feeling safe. We want to create spaces where they can feel safe to let their guard down, if even for a short time. We want them to feel safe knowing they can count on the fact that they have a place to sleep or a place to eat. We also want our staff and volunteers to feel as safe as possible, even if pushed out of their comfort zone.