It has been quite a few years since Debra Fieguth lived in Vancouver, but I know she retained a good number of friends here – and many more will remember her from her days as editor of BC Christian News. Along with her many friends across Canada, we were saddened to hear that Debra died last weekend of a massive stroke.
Many comments – shocked, loving, sorrowful – have flowed in to her Facebook page, and that of her husband Ian. Some were from professional colleagues, writers and media types. But many more came from refugees, international students and others who have been welcomed and befriended by her over the years.
Debra and I worked together at Christian Info Society for several years. She was the editor and I was just learning something of the craft (having been trained in law). She was a great teacher – practical, no-nonsense, reasonable and knowledgeable. We became friends and have remained so over the years, even after she moved to Winnipeg and then Kingston.
Veteran journalist Lloyd Mackey first met Debra in about 1976, when he was editor of The Chilliwack Progress, then at Christian Info during the 1980s. His assessment:
She was an excellent journalist with a strong sense of both personal faith and social justice. Her research was meticulous and her writing style was clear, simple and often innovative.
Co-workers at ChristianWeek in Winnipeg and in Ontario have similar perspectives. Faith Today senior co-editor Karen Stiller has written a lovely remembrance of Debra. In part, she said:
To be a senior writer for Faith Today means that writer is a “go-to” person for us. It means that we can assign that person almost any story and know it will be done well. Debra was a go-to person in her work. She was also most certainly that in her life.
Debra was an activist of the faith. She was someone intent on making the crooked straight, setting right what had been made wrong.
Debra was a go-to person for countless numbers of international students who found a home through weekly dinners and I’m guessing endless drop-in visits to their home in Kingston. Debra and her husband Ian lived and breathed hospitality. It’s just what they did. She wrote a book about it.
Heritage Vancouver offers insightful commentaries on each of the buildings. Here is part of their comment on St. Stephen’s:
This is the third year in a row that historic churches have been featured on our Top10 Watch List. As many Vancouver churches face declining attendance, the rate of church closures is threatening the future of community heritage and gathering spaces. St. Stephen’s United Church, designed in a West Coast Modern style, opened in 1964.
In a story that is now all too common, the 150-seat sanctuary used to be full on Sundays; the congregation has now declined to less than 90 people, and only about 30 members attend the weekly service. In a few years, the church may have to close, and the building will likely be sold and replaced by mid-rise housing following the development pattern nearby on south Granville Street.
When heritage churches close, Vancouver communities lose more than places of worship, they also lose space for the countless social and cultural activities that churches host each week. With fewer places for groups to meet in our ever-denser city, more people will become isolated, diminishing our quality of life. Public places are essential to a healthy community and are a cornerstone of democracy, and our churches represent a very significant amount of the social gathering space available in our city.
This comment begs the response that there are many churches in Vancouver that are growing – and need church buildings. One would hope that church buildings could be passed, at reasonable prices, to dynamic new churches, in cases where the original churches really feel they cannot carry on.
Heritage Vancouver also discussed the significance of St. Stephen’s design:
Rather than follow the more conservative architectural styles of earlier churches, the architect, Arthur J. Mudry, designed the building in a contemporary West Coast style. He was one of the many talented Vancouver area postwar architects whose modernist residential and institutional designs responded to the unique regional landscape and climate. Mudry also created the award-winning design for the striking Baptist church (1967) located at 450 Mathers Avenue in West Vancouver.
For more detail on the threat to, and significance of, St. Stephen’s, as well as the position of Heritage Vancouver and possible supportive actions go here. And for the same kind of details related to the Salvation Army Temple go here.
The fact that Heritage Vancouver identifies a building as being worthy of saving does not, unfortunately, necessarily mean it will be saved. A church featured last year, Oakridge United, will be torn down soon to make way for a residential building (including some sacred space). Kerrisdale Baptist – not being used as a church at present – was featured in 2014.
Nettle’s Tale swimsuits
A Vancouver swimwear designer has collaborated with a team of nurses to design a suit they can wear while volunteering in countries with more modest clothing standards.
Nadine Kapteyn and three other BC nurses were stationed in West Africa with Mercy Ships – a charity that sends a private hospital ship to provide free primary medical care to cities around the world – when they realized they could use a specialized swim suit. . . .
“One of Mercy Ship’s mandates is to ensure that they’re culturally respectful to the various, very diverse countries that they volunteer in, so they encourage everyone to dress in a way that is respectful to whatever dominant culture you’re staying in,” Kapteyn said.
She and her colleagues worked with Nettle’s Tale on the ‘Mercy Ships Suit”; 10 percent of profits will go to Mercy Ships.
Mercy Ships provides free primary medical care and community support to impoverished people in developing countries who would not otherwise have access to that kind of surgery. (The mission of Mercy Ships: “Following the 2000-year-old model of Jesus, Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.”)
For the Early Edition article go here – there is also a link to a podcast of the full interview.
The Nettles Tale website describes how it began:
Julia Church is an entrepreneur with a background in management, sales and theatre. Her concept for Nettle’s Tale was born out of personal experiences with body image and swimsuit shopping. Launching the company in 2014, her crowdfunding campaign quickly went viral, established an international fan base for her Canadian-made swimwear, and smashed through its revenue goal seven times over.
Building on her e-commerce success, Julia took Nettle’s Tale brick- and-mortar. She opened a Vancouver showroom and then a storefront, Neighbourhood Quality Goods [at 27th and Main], which she co-owns in the fashion-forward ’hood of Mount Pleasant.
She was featured in WeMakeStuff 02, a beautifully produced 2014 book which featured 100 artists and innovators from BC, mostly from Metro Vancouver, who “share a common pursuit of living a life that embodies the teachings and Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
Having just launched Nettle’s Tale, Church said, in part:
My canvas is the female form, which comes in so many different shapes and sizes – and we make suits to fit them all. . . . It is unusual – though it shouldn’t be – for a woman to visit a shop and feel like she fits! Like she is being represented and her body is being embraced. This is the purpose of my designs: to portray the female form just as it is, authentically beautiful.
Courage to Come Back
Coast Mental Health raised a record $1.43 million at the 2106 Courage to Come Back Awards May 5. Apart from raising funds, the evening was intended to “recognize six truly remarkable British Columbians – their courage to overcome serious adversity, change their lives for the better and move forward to help others do the same.”
All six stories are inspiring, but a couple, at least, also involve the Christian community:
Jemal Damtawe received his award in the Addictions category.
He was forced to become a child soldier at the age of 15 in Ethiopia. Eventually he escaped, gaining asylum in Canada in 1989. He started a restaurant in Montreal, getting married and having a daughter.
But he couldn’t shake his trauma, undiagnosed PTSD. He self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, left his family, moved to Portland, Oregon, joined a gang and became a drug dealer. The threat of death led him back to Canada – this time Vancouver – in 2005.
An article in the Province said:
Christmas morning 10 years ago Jemal Damtawe woke up to find a friend he had been using drugs with the night before dead of an overdose outside the shared bathroom of his single room occupancy suite on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
He knew instantly that he wanted out. He literally ran to the Union Gospel Mission and asked to enter the rehab program, an act of surrender that changed his life forever. . . .
“Something changed when I came to UGM,” he said. “People prayed for me and they encouraged me, so I got that hope.”
He entered into a four-month recovery program and now helps others [as a UGM outreach worker].
“Without judging them, I just love them, like God loves them,” he said.
His nominators said Damtawe spends Christmas and other holidays with men in recovery so they won’t be alone, engages with youth, preaches at church, offers spiritual care and mentors students.
On weekends, he hands out water and granola bars to people on the streets of Coquitlam, where he lives with his new wife and four year old son and attends church. (Damtawe was reconciled with his daughter, now 23, and visits her regularly.)
Meredith Graham received her award in the Social Adversity category. She was diagnosed with depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at 13, bi-polar disorder at 18 and borderline personality disorder at 26. She ran away from home as a teen, couch-surfing with friends. In high school she used coping strategies that further put her health at risk, such as disordered eating.
Another story in the Province said:
However, she said she’s not a victim who’s defined by her mental illness but a “trauma survivor,” and she credits teachers and a church mentor with rescuing her by taking her into their homes and teaching her how to live life.
“They mentored and they guided me,” she said of two women at her church. “I spent holidays at their home. They are my family.”
She said the women answered her questions about how to function in the basics of life and “they just wrapped themselves around me from the beginning.”
Before those women, two high school teachers had also had Graham move in with them at different times, the first when she was 15 and was caught with a knife in school.
One of the conditions was that Graham attend church with the teacher’s family and “I happily agreed.”
One week off
I will be away for one week in England; thus the next weekly Church for Vancouver update will be posted May 25.
May 2016March for Life: Caring Not Killing – May 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm - 3:15 pm
Alpha 'Invite Canada' – May 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Book Launch: Simon Choa-Johnston – The House of Wives – May 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Divorce: Our Families, Our Friends, Ourselves – May 13, 2016 at 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Life in the Margins Workshop – May 13, 2016 - May 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Climate Change & the Church in Vancouver: Screening of 'This Changes Everything' – May 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm - 9:00 pm
Ian Sherwood – May 13, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Journey with People in Recovery – May 14, 2016 at 8:00 am - 12:30 pm
Starting a Social Enterprise – May 14, 2016 at 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Vancouver: Alpha Lab – May 14, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Cyrilika Slavic Chamber Choir: Our Spirit and Our Soul – May 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Book Launch: Simon Choa-Johnston – The House of Wives – May 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Holocaust Memorial - Yom Hashoah – May 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Arbutus String Quartet: Music by Haydn and Beethoven – May 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Muslims Next Door (Sunday evenings) – May 15, 2016 - May 22, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Muslims Next Door: Beliefs and Practices – May 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Focus on Life Gala Dinner: Protecting Vulnerable Hearts – May 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Janet Danielson: Hearts in Harmony – Hymns as Communication Technology – May 16, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Book Launch: Simon Choa-Johnston – The House of Wives – May 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Loren Wilkinson: The Singular Universe and the Triune God – May 18, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Linda Szentes – May 18, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Joseph and the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoast – May 19, 2016 - May 21, 2016 at All Day
Historymaker Conference 2016 – May 20, 2016 - May 22, 2016 at All Day
Chris Tomlin in Concert – May 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Muslims Next Door: Major Objections to the Gospel – May 22, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Doug Moo: Translating the Bible for a New Generation – May 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
EFC Webinar: The Problem of Pornography – May 24, 2016 at 9:00 am - 9:45 am
Pastoral Approaches: Sexually Addictive Behaviour – May 25, 2016 at 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Yonghua Ge: What Has Christian Theology to do with Chinese Philosophy? – May 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Jennifer Scott – May 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Public Lecture on Pope Francis's Encyclical Letter Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home – May 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Tourist Company – May 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Marc Dupont: In His Presence – May 26, 2016 - May 27, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Church Leaders Forum: Cultivating a Culture of Dare – May 27, 2016 at 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Chapel: Unified – May 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Ignite Maple Ridge – May 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Blessed are the Peacemakers: Concepts and Tools for Better Conflict, with Darrin Hotte – May 28, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Irresistible Community: Small Groups Leadership Training Broadcast Conference – May 28, 2016 at 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Neighbourhood Garage Sale – May 28, 2016 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Soul Gospel: Featuring Canada’s Queen of Soul, Dawn Pemberton and choirs from Sarah McLachlan School of Music – May 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
New Beginnings Concert: Fundraiser Concert for Refugees – May 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Soul Gospel: Featuring Canada’s Queen of Soul, Dawn Pemberton and choirs from Sarah McLachlan School of Music – May 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Worship and Prayer for the Lower Mainland & the Festival of Hope – May 29, 2016 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Switchfoot in Concert – May 29, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
First United: 9th Annual Golf Tournament for the Homeless – May 30, 2016 at 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Dying Well: Panel and Discussion – May 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 8:45 pm
Faith & Justice Roundtable: Housing & Displacement Crisis – May 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cindy Aalders: And a Little Child Shall Lead Them: Children as Spiritual Guides in 18th Century England – May 30, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
NightShift Charity Golf Classic – May 31, 2016 at All Day
Religious Freedom Protest for TWU Law School at Vancouver Law Courts – May 31, 2016 at 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Faith Rising: The Church Responding in the Middle East – May 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jun 2016Walking in the Spirit of Reconciliation: Langley Churches for Reconciliation – June 1, 2016 - June 4, 2016 at All Day
Vancouver Pastors Prayer Fellowship – June 1, 2016 at 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Business By the Book: Peter Fassbender – June 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Faith Rising: The Church Responding in the Middle East – June 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Laurel Borisenko: A Geography of Scars – Stories and Responses to Refugee Crises – June 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Christie Grace – June 1, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Drama: Screaming in Silence – June 2, 2016 - June 4, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Stephen Woodworth – June 2, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Andy Atkins: Fighting Poverty, Saving the Earth – June 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love the Stranger: Responding to the Current Refugee Crisis – June 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
More Than a Roof Presents: Art from the Shadows – June 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Pacific Mennonite Children's Choir: Folk Songs Far and Near – June 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Launch of Victim Circles of Support Program – June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Peter Anderson: Youth Explored: Tools for Understanding and Engaging the Next Generation – June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre Garage Sale – June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
DTES Church Gathering – June 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Gordon Smith: What Can Evangelicals Learn from Catholics? – June 6, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Darrell Johnson & Special Guest Presenters: A Consultation on Preaching – June 8, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23): Perspectives of Patients and Families on End of Life and Medical Assistance in Dying – June 8, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jeffrey Greenman: The Pedagogy of Praise – How Congregational Worship Shapes Christian Character – June 8, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Triology – June 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Wit by Margaret Edison – June 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Pause for Perspective: Silent Retreat with Father Richard Soo SJ – June 10, 2016 at 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
A Rocha: Stories & Song, with Peter & Miranda Harris, Sandra McCracken – June 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Duncan Africa Benefit Concert – June 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
DRIME Fundraiser: Run for the Nations – June 11, 2016 at All Day
The Mission of God and Your Church – June 11, 2016 at All Day
Gordon Smith: Cultivating Institutions that Thrive – June 11, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Mental Health Workshops: Mental Health, Faith & Community – June 11, 2016 at 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Gospel Music Festival – June 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Saint Eugene de Mazenod Play – June 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Reconcile This!: Uniting Struggles Against Colonial Dispossession & Capitalist Displacement – June 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jesus Loves Me Hymn Festival – June 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Watoto Children's Choir – June 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm