By Rev. Trevor Potter

Cooking, Conversation and Companionship is a program offered at McKillop Church in partnership with Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization (LSCO).

Wow!! It’s really happening! On June 21st, construction began on renovations to McKillop United Church’s facility that furthers our dream of becoming and building a community hub on the southside of Lethbridge to help the community thrive and flourish. The renovations help McKillop be accessible and welcoming, but more importantly, we are investing in our community.

Long before renovations were considered, McKillop began five years ago looking at how to become a Community Hub. We are grateful to the Alberta and Northwest Conference for entrusting us with grants from the Mission Transition Fund that seeded initiatives to help McKillop flourish and become positive and relevant in our community with blossoming potential. We would not be in this position without your generosity and faith in this vision that we can be more at McKillop.

The grants were used to help build relationships in the community through the facilitation and fostering of collaborative relationships by Joel Den Haan Consulting Group and FocusPoint Communications. We have built relationships and enhanced our relationships with such organizations as Lethbridge Family Services, L’Arche, and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization (LSCO), Outreach of Southern Alberta, Upside Down in LA, Scouting, and others. Rob Miyashiro, the Executive Director of LSCO, is a proud partner with us as together we’ve offered the 3 C’s program (Cooking, Conversation, and Companionship for seniors) through four-pilot projects developed in partnership and facilitated by the congregation and Joel Den Haan. Rob Miyashiro is excited about expanding our partnerships after the renovations to include youth, single parents, and others as well as McKillop offering programming at the LSCO.

As the need for renovations became apparent, McKillop started a capital campaign within the congregation towards the $1.5 million renovations. This dream and vision is going to allow us to reach outside our walls and also enhance our own ministries too. The renovations will include a community teaching kitchen, new elevator, accessible washrooms, meeting room, sound proofing, and lots of mechanical upgrades.

We are also grateful for our community partners, because they helped us receive $325,000 worth of federal and provincial grants for this dream. We received a $250,000 grant from the provincial Community Facility Enhancement Program; $50,000 from the Federal Accessibility Grant; and $25,000 from the Federal New Horizon Grant towards the kitchen and 3 C’s program. We would not be eligible for these grants if we were not helping our community prosper and in collaborative partnerships that you enabled through the Mission Transition Grants.

At the Congregational Meeting on May 27, 2018, the congregation gave final approval to the design and the total cost of the project as well as giving consent to borrowing up to $250,000 to complete the renovations. This is a generational, once-in-50-years project and I am grateful the congregation is willing to step out in faith to build this dream in its entirety. We hope at the end of the renovations, or soon after, to be able to retire any debt.

I hope seeing the relevance and the thriving energy of this dream and vision unfolding will allow the Alberta and Northwest Conference to celebrate in importance of such grants, as the Mission Transition Fund, and also encourage the new regions to continue to support the missional work of churches seeking new ways to be in a ministry to our communities. It is an investment in community and ministry. And I, personally, also hope to use our wonderful new kitchen to make butter horns for everyone in celebration. Thank you, because of your gift to his dream through grants will now be a reality in Lethbridge and at McKillop as we build and invest in community together as part of the United Church of Canada.

Thank you for helping to create this opportunity to touch the lives of so many people by supporting this transformation of our building and relationship to the community. We believe if our community prospers and thrives, then we will too as a congregation.