On November 10 and 11, Dan McIver and the Kingston Navigators, in partnership with nightlight and Geneva House, invited Greg Paul to visit the city and give two talks on his experiences with inner-city ministry.
Greg has been involved in this type of ministry since the mid-70s and is the founder of Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto. Located in Toronto’s downtown, this community seeks to care for and welcome some of the most marginalized people in the area, bringing them together with those who are wealthy to live, work and share life together.
Dan says his original idea was to invite Greg and show him what The Navigators are doing in Kingston and hear what insights he may have. However, it evolved into something more through the partnerships the Kingston Navigators have with Geneva House and nightlight. “I respect Greg’s opinion in general and strong bias towards helping the poor and marginalized, which I share,” Dan says. “From that sprung the idea of helping the helpers. We wanted to do something in a place of ministry to encourage, strengthen, and minister to people who are giving their lives to helping others. That is what spawned the talk at nightlight.”
Nightlight is a coffee shop drop-in located in downtown Kingston. It operates late in the evening to give people of varied social and economic circumstances a chance to connect and meet. Here, about 45 people representing outreach and community aid organizations came together on November 10 to interact and talk with Greg about the work they do and the struggles they face.
Surrounded by attentive listeners and active participants, Greg began the evening with the story of how and why Sanctuary Ministries started:
As the evening went on and people shared their experiences of why they started volunteering, one recurring theme was overcoming the need to try and fix the people they encountered. Most, if not all, say they experienced a transformation in how they related to people when they switched from trying to fix them to listening to what they had to say. Below, Greg talks about this and how it affects more than our relationships with others:
Near the end of his time at nightlight, as participants mentioned the hard parts of their work and the tough experiences they’ve had to deal with, Greg had this to say on finding joy in the tough times:
The next day, on November 11, at 7:00pm in the School of Kinesiology at Queen’s University, about 75 students, faculty and other interested members of the public came together to hear Greg speak on the connection between God and justice and “Redeeming the Word ‘Religion’.
This event was hosted by Geneva House, an on-campus student group affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, and The Navigators as part of their ongoing Geneva Lecture series that since 1992, has sought to bring guest speakers to speak on the intersection of faith and their area of expertise.
Near the beginning of his lecture, Greg references the video below called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by Jefferson Bethke, a spoken word poet. He uses this as an illustration of how many Christians feel about ‘religion’ to launch into his argument about why ‘religion’ can be good.