I had the opportunity to hear Rodger Nishioka (Associate Professor, Christian Education, at Columbia Theological Seminary) speak this past fall. One story he told was about a research interview he did with a woman who lived in an apartment building across from a church. She told him that nothing that happened there had any effect on her life. She said that if that local church ceased to exist, it wouldn't make any difference to her. Dr. Nishioka then challenged us to think about whether the people in our communities would notice if our local churches suddenly disappeared.
The other thing he shared that I thought was noteworthy was this: "As society becomes more high-tech, there will be a corresponding need for high-touch."
During the recent power outage of Christmas week, I had the opportunity to reflect on some of the things Rodger said, and I came to two conclusions.
First, our Nassagaweya Presbyterian Church (NPC) community in Campbellville, Ontario, does make a difference to our neighbours. Many volunteers joined staff at the church during the week of the ice storm crisis to provide water, heat, electricity, food, and friendship to anyone who came through our doors. Further, donations of leftover barbecue containers meant that dinners could be assembled for pick-up to deliver to hydro crews who couldn't come to the church. This may have gone unnoticed by many, but for those who did notice, our contribution was appreciated.
Second, we are a "high-touch" community. When one of the eleven hydro workers who ate at the church on Boxing Day saw the home-cooked meal in front of him, he said, "This is better than the Keg!"
Home-cooked food and good old-time hospitality are some of the gifts with which God has blessed our community. These gifts meet a real need in a world where people are becoming more isolated by technology. For me, it was a real blessing to see our church community leap into action during the power outage. Thanks for making my first Christmas at NPC so memorable!
Reuben St. Louis
Minister, Nassagaweya Presbyterian Church