Friday, October 7, 2011

Community means walking and building together

Walk with me, I will walk with you and build the land that God has planned where love shines through. - John S. Rice

As a community developer, I’d like to share this message with you. I believe it is applicable to followers of all faiths including Christians but as well to those community members who profess not to be religious. We all are to some degree spiritual.

Think about human illnesses they come in at least three dimensions. Dimensions may not be the correct word but you can be physically ill, you can be mentally ill and you can be spiritually ill. Most of us would have experienced spiritual illness caused by the death of a close friend or family member. Whole communities here in Nova Scotia have been so affected during both the Plymouth Westray and Springhill mine disasters and also by the crash of Swissair 111 off Peggy’s Cove.

We talk about good spirits and bad spirits, good and evil people and all religions are related to that spiritual side of our natures. While all have a spiritual nature, many people now claim not to be religious - including numerous who declare some attachment to but for one reason or another of their own have ceased to attend church regularly or at all. They fill our church pews at special Christmas and Easter services; they get married in the church, bury their dead and have their children baptized and attend Sunday school but they do not attend regularly because they are not religious.

Still, their limited usage is evidence that they recognize the Church as playing a valued role in their community. In fact, look around and think about the number of churches in your community or any of the surrounding communities. You’ll quickly come to appreciate the enormous influence the Christian church has played in the growth and sustenance of all our communities since the coming of the original settlers to these shores.

Yes, our Christianity has seen bad and even some evil clergy and for sure, there have always been interchurch rivalries, bickering and even some causes of hard feelings. But overall, our communities have benefited greatly from the high moral values and standards with which, from cradle to grave, the great majority of our Christian clergy have been concerned to imbue our populations as they’ve taught us not to kill, not to steel, and to love our neighbours rather that to covet what they possess.

That is why I believe we should all support our community churches. You should support your church financially - even if you choose not to attend, to be religious or to believe in God. Think of your community without His influence. It won’t be a safe or pretty place! That is a direction in which we are heading. Church attendance is steadily falling off and our churches are falling into disrepair and financial hard times as our communities’ peoples fall away from following God and caring for their neighbours leaving ever fewer to shoulder the burdens and responsibilities of community.

Our influences for good are slipping away on us and no one is paying much attention. As people choose instead to be guided by their secular self interest, we also find our community food banks really struggling as are most of our service clubs and local non-profit service and charity organizations starving for both financing and new volunteer help. This past year, community financial support of the Pictou County United Way was way down and no significant recovery in that seems very likely.

And this is not to say that all of the influences in our communities are disappearing. That would be wrong. Some are actually growing. I see in the news today where Nova Scotia has six hot spots where illicit intravenous drug usage is on the rise and four of the six are right here in our Pictou County. Think about that!

Are you doing all that you can or your share to help your community continue to develop as a safe and desirable place to live? Or, are you off somewhere in your own world expecting that such necessary work will somehow get done by magic?

So, I'd like to echo again with you those word of John S. Rice, "Walk with me, I will walk with you and build the land that God has planned where love shines through."
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