Miracles do happen, and that is indeed what happened in Welland on Christmas Day, 2022. Welland once had many large industrial plants, was the seat of county government, and home to the Welland canal. Change came in the 1970’s. The large factories closed, unemployment soared, and a new bypass of the canal was built, creating a divided city. On the east side of the canal sat Holy Trinity Anglican Church, struggling on the “poor side” of the city.
A large grant & bequest came to the parish and an industrial kitchen was built. The kitchen was used to expand the outreach programs with a hot meal for the community called “Soul Food.” The kitchen enabled many missional programs and has become the centre of a daily breakfast program co-ordinated by Jim Butts and a host of leaders and volunteers. Every morning, 70-80 people are fed.
Parish Deacon Mark McGill has coordinated the Harvest Kitchen meal program in Welland, and the kitchen at Holy Trinity has increasingly become a home base for these meals. Different churches share the schedule of providing a nightly meal to those most in need in Welland.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The community of Holy Trinity lived out that gospel every day.
Jim Butts is the co-ordinator of the Christmas dinner and with his army of volunteers they prepared 431 turkey dinners to be delivered to those in their community who struggle. Anyone who needed a meal could call and register and be guaranteed of a meal for Christmas Day. On Dec. 24, after the breakfast program ended, preparations intensified. The turkeys were cooked and early Christmas morning the volunteers rolled into the church. After a 9:30 Eucharist, meal preparations began in earnest.
The meal included turkey, potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, gravy, vegetables, and a bag of cookies. All these meals were delivered safely and on time, which was no mean feat given the fact that the city was under blizzard warnings, high winds, cold, and lots of snow. Thanks be to God and all the volunteers who braved the elements to complete their task.
These volunteers gave up their Christmas Day with family or friends to cook, sort, organize, prepare, and deliver meals. I think if we were to ask all the volunteers what their favourite Christmas gift was, it would have been unanimous. The greatest gift of all? To ensure no one went hungry. Not only was there a meal, but there were hats, and warm socks.
A miracle of love, spreading the light of Christ, happened in Welland on Christmas Day last year. Reverend Deacon Mark McGill, shared this good news with the deacons of Niagara and Western New York on Boxing Day. It was too heartwarming a story not to share with everyone, so we have spoken on behalf of Mark and the amazing people at Holy Trinity. Let us pray in thanksgiving for those who spread the light of Christ.