At the core of Forward Church’s mission is the call to “Love God, Love Others and Serve the World”. Over the last decade, this mission has led us to provide a home for Allison Park Public School after their school building burnt down, to provide a facility for Oakbridge Academy to call home, to bless and celebrate single moms through “Your Day”, as well as host movie nights, provide summer camps, and many other programs to bless our neighbours, our neighbourhood and the city of Cambridge.
Last week, we were approached by The Bridges about their need for extra space during this pandemic to practice social distancing. They specifically asked if we might be able to house some of the lowest risk individuals that the Bridges services- a group consisting of the elderly, and those with no significant history of mental health or addiction issues. We gladly entered into a conversation with them about how we could be of service during these extraordinary times.
As those who are committed to faithfully following the way of Jesus, we take seriously Jesus’ call from Matthew 22:39 to “love our neighbour as ourselves.” That command includes both our housed and homeless neighbours. We want you to know that the safety and well-being of our neighbours is important to us. Many of our own church members live within walking distance from the church and we understand that the activities that take place within the walls of our church building can affect those who live near us. At no point did we ever discuss or entertain the idea of housing those who posed a high risk to our community and The Bridges never even suggested that. We do, however, believe that offering our building to house those who represent a very low risk to our neighbourhood both was and continues to be what Jesus would do.
At this point, due to misinformation that was spread through social media, The Bridges has decided to not move forward with housing any of their residents at Forward Church. We would like you to know that we, as a church, remain as ready as we have always been, to meet whatever needs we can for our community, no matter a person’s faith background, income, or housing situation.
In anxious times like these, it is easy to allow fear to become the determining factor in our decision making. Our plea to you, whether you are a part of our church community or the broader community of Cambridge is this: Choose to live lives determined by love, not controlled by fear.
Here to serve,
The Leadership Team of Forward Church