A home can be defined as somewhere you live. Four walls, a roof and a bed where you can lay to rest. For The Sanctuary London community, a home is much more. Ask any friend of Sanctuary London and they will tell you that this is where they feel safe. It is a place where they feel a sense of belonging that is created by the connection of friendship. Sanctuary London member Melanie Pelkey says “This is home to me and it’s my family, I really love them all.”
Pastor Gil Clelland says “It’s a place for people to call home. We feel that one of the biggest things that is leading to poverty in Canada, Ontario, and London is a disconnection from people. Disconnection from meaningful relationships. Disconnection from people that will help them along the way. ” He goes on to say that they are trying to build a community where people can be connected again.
Sanctuary is a community where the homeless and less fortunate can meet for meals, fun, worship, and friendship.
Sanctuary London began in 2011 when Clelland and co-founder Darryl Reckman partnered with the Talbot Street Church (formerly known as First Christian Reformed Church). The church is located at 513 Talbot Street which is conveniently next door to Sanctuary London’s main office building of 531 Talbot Street.
You can visit the Sanctuary London at the Talbot Street Church for their following weekly events:
-Mondays are Lunch Drop-ins from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
This is followed by the Bible Study from 3:00 – 4:00 pm.
-Wednesdays consist of a Drop-in and Community Meal from 2:00 – 9:00 pm.
Their Family Style dinner begins at 5:30 pm
-Thursday is Visual Arts and Creative Writing from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at 531 Talbot Street.
Additionally, every other Thursday the Generous Spaciousness group for the LGBTQ+ community and friends meet at their main office location.
-Sunday- Worship Service from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. Service starts at 5:30.
There is a potluck meal on the 1st Sunday of each month at 4 pm.
The Sanctuary also houses a home on Adelaide Street where 8 people can live in an affordable home. Fellow Sanctuary member Mike Bieber has been a part of the Sanctuary community since the beginning and is now part of the housing program.
The Sanctuary is a place of worship but Bieber tells us that wasn’t always the case for him.
“I wasn’t a religious person growing up and I had a lot of tough questions for Gil.”
Sanctuary London member David Baker says that when you come here “You can learn more about who you are and what God is and everything in between.”
It’s no secret that London’s homeless and poverty situation is not in a good place. However, Sanctuary London will help those in need connect with the right programs to assist them in their journey of improving their life.
Sanctuary member Iris Evans says “This community has changed my life for the better.”
The church hosted all the Mayoral candidates on October 10 and Clelland says that London Mayor, Ed Holder, has some great plans for London through collaboration. “Let’s find out who’s doing what? Instead of competing with one another, let’s find a way to collaborate. How can we do that better together?” says Clelland.
If we had more programs like Sanctuary London, our community may not be suffering in the ruins it currently is. There is no progress without struggle and this community is hoping that the combined unity of struggle can lead to more progress.