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Glocal peace


Youth take prayer for peace to the streets in Kitchener/Waterloo

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young woman in white t-shirt on the left, young woman in blue t-shirt in the middle and young man with red t-shirt and a bag of cookies on the right
(l-r) Renae Friesen and Carly Giesbrecht offer a hospitality gift of homemade cookies to Jacob  Letkemann, staff at the ROOF, a ministry to youth who live on the street.

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July 15, 2011
-Dan Dyck

Waterloo, ONT. — Drivers, bikers, passers-by, cyclists, and a Fed-Ex courier honked and flashed the two fingered peace sign to our small group of peace pray-ers. As a virtue, peace is a value that’s hard to disagree with. But how to live it has many different expressions.

On July 6, 2011, forty-four Mennonite Church Canada Youth Assembly 2011 participants and their leaders from Manitoba hit the streets of Kitchener/Waterloo to share the message of peace – and to take part in a condensed learning tour.  They visited six social service agencies, each of whom play a strategic role in helping to create the conditions for peace in the community.

The K-W Reception Centre, a large older home that offers a first-stop residence to 280 refugees each year, resonated with Youth Assembly planner Tran Trang from Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church. Sponsored by a family from Foothills Mennonite Church, Trang also lived in a reception centre with her parents in Calgary when she first arrived in Canada at the age of four.

Lance greeted me at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel when our group arrived. He’s been living here for a month to visit a friend and escape “the cage in Toronto” where people were “poking me all the time and testing my patience.”
The slim middle-aged man has been intimate with the streets of Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. “The food is really good here [at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel]. This is a good place to get healthy.”

On learning about our peace prayer delegation, he said simply, “This is a good thing. Kids need to see this side of life. Thanks for coming.”

Additional stops included Mary’s Place, a centre for distressed women and children, the Working Centre, which empowers the unemployed, ROOF, a street ministry for youth, and the K-W Multicultural Centre, which helps newcomers adjust to Canadian systems and culture.

At each stop, tour leader Margaret Nally, Chaplain at Mary’s Place, prayed with the group for the staff, clients, and funders of each agency. Participants threaded beads onto bracelets that they would take home to symbolize each of the agencies they visited and to remember the work of similar organizations in their own communities.

With each visit, every peace prayer group of four dropped off a hospitality gift of homemade cookies – a total of four dozen cookies at each agency.