Page 48 - 04-June-2024
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 I learned that the staff and volunteers serve at-risk youth who come to the mall with issues from unemployment to the impacts of broken homes and addiction problems.
The place is nothing like a typical chapel or storefront church. There are comfortable chairs much like an old-style diner, set up in booths against the wall. There is a small space in which a speaker or pastor can stand, which is also used for weddings, with guitars and keyboards all around. Brodeur says these help get more young people in the door.
“We have several services here, including a men’s group, a Chinese church service, Bible studies, multicultural services,” Brodeur says. “We have many pastors and many volunteers, some with counselling training. One of the key groups we have here is our youth drop-in, which can often be a young person’s first point of contact with our ministries.”
The chapel partners with other churches, with the caveat that they agree to Loved- monton’s “basic Christian statement of faith.”
As far as advertising goes, Lovedmonton Chapel mostly relies on word of mouth. There have been services in the same space for 38 years.
I speak with a young man named “Tommy.” A high school student in Edmonton, Tommy is just 16. Brodeur counselled Tommy by walking him through the process of writing a résumé, and helped him find his first-ever job.
Among the outreach programs Lovedmonton Chapel undertakes is the
Christmastime giving of cookies and Bibles to each of the more than 800 stores in the mall. The Bibles are New Testaments (and Gospels of John) provided by the Gideons and the Canadian Bible Society. Mall management does have strict rules against solicitation, and against outsiders coming in and preaching or handing out tracks. But, as a tenant, and because the Bibles and cookies
are distributed as gifts, Lovedmonton has faced very little opposition to their Christmas ministry from management or the other stores.
“There have been times when stores return the Bibles due to corporate rules or other reasons, but for the most part the gifts are well-received,” Chaplain Josh Quinlan says.
I reached out to West Edmonton Mall’s administration office for comment regarding the gifts, and did not receive
a response.
The chapel, which operates strictly
by donations, puts on holiday celebration meals, such as this past Thanksgiving, when the chapel hosted 50 people for a traditional dinner.
“We try to help those who come through our doors in any way we can.” Brodeur says. “We have two people volunteering here who are trained social workers, though they don’t act in that capacity in the chapel. If someone comes to us and is homeless and needs immediate help, all we can do is direct them to the shelter, explain what bus they need to take, and let them know that the bus drivers will give a free ride to shelters.
There are all kinds of resources to help people in need in Edmonton and we don’t want to be lost among them. We believe in the saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you give him a meal. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’
“Sadly, if we were to give out food or bus tickets, there would be a lineup to our door and we would be diverting our efforts from our purpose, to share our faith, to welcome newcomers, and above all to show them love and compassion.”
Saunders shares a tragic story: “We had a woman who was coming here for quite a while, who was showing signs of distress. Just two days ago, she died of a drug overdose.”
She speaks about a young man named “Trevor.” He came to the chapel looking for connection and reasons to overcome his bad habits. Recently, Tammy learned he was having trouble doing his taxes and hadn’t filed in 16 years. Over the course of several hours, Saunders helped him get all caught up. He is now due for several years of GST payments and other benefits. She also referred him to the Mill Woods Care Closet, a food and clothing bank.
“I keep coming in to work every day,” Quinlan says, “because I can see the differ- ence it makes in the lives of others to share one’s faith and to experience fellowship and love without judgement. Often, when someone first encounters the Lovedmonton chapel, they may be coming from a place of great difficulty and great need. We can offer them a place where they will be listened to and where they can connect with a caring, supportive community.” ED.
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“We can offer them a place where they will be listened to and where they can connect with a caring, supportive community.”

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