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A church trying to change its approach to “charity”

May 9, 2012

This shift has taken place over the course of the past year. It was a calculated move that has been controversial, both inside and outside of the organization. And, although it may seem strange that a church would want to distance itself from the entrenched idea of charity, that’s exactly what Calvary is trying to do.

Hankinson started reading about food security, looking at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House and the Kitchen Tables project. He came to believe that, while the church was meeting a need, it was also, in a way, disempowering people.

“This way, people have to work together as peers,” says Hankinson. “We’ve gotten rid of volunteer and guest distinctions. We’ve flipped that power dynamic. We don’t have these people from a middle class background serving these other poor people.”

From an article in the Tyee by Colleen Kimmett

It is great to see a group of people question the prevailing trend in how best to help others. I wish more churches and non-profits would be willing to question the status quo of how aid is done and be willing to change their ways in order to better serve those that they want to help.

Power is a major issue. When we do everything for people because of the assumption that they need our help and cannot do things for themselves, we put ourselves in positions of power over those we are “helping.” In doing this, we end up dishonoring and disrespecting the very people we are trying to help.

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