Canada: Vancouver 614
These words from Isaiah 61.4 have been the foundational scripture passage of our Salvation Army community, known as 614 Vancouver. We are a Corps (church) plant of the SA - though even people within our denomination have a difficult time characterising us! We don't have meetings on Sunday, we don't play brass (well, maybe at Christmas) and we don't run a charity shop. All these things are fine, but we have chosen to focus our community around prayer, incarnational presence in our locality, joy and justice.
"We've all moved into the Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood which is considered by many to be a blight on an otherwise world-class city. But we don't see it that way. This is our home and these people are our neighbours. We have discovered great beauty, love and possibility on these mean streets. We run cell groups, small church fellowships in apartments, slum hotels, homeless shelters and local parks. We invite our friends and neighbours to come to learn and worship with us. We play, work and garden, raise families and live out a regular pattern of life here, as we fight for our neighbourhood. Huge forces and powers wish to see this place demolished, and its inhabitants moved elsewhere. We fight because the people we love are being left to die from AIDS, drugs overdoses, violence or just plain old poverty.
Most importantly, we pray. This is not separate from living, playing, working, teaching or fighting. It is present in all these things. It is the reason why we do them and the strength behind them. For the past five years we have been maintaining a form of 24-7 Prayer vigil for our community. For the first three and a half years, we prayed non-stop in a slum hotel room overlooking Main and Hastings, the centre of the open drug trade. Now, our prayer room sits above a homeless shelter and women's refuge, but in reality the prayer has actually moved beyond the bounds of four walls, and happens in the daily warp and woof of community life."