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Pardon the weak headline – but there seems to be a thing about shop fires and church communities in our family affairs. Shopping centres and churches in town planning seem to have symbiotic connections. There are practical benefits like negotiated shared parking, one stop benefits for shopping and participation in church programs and the ambience that builds community as shoppers, business owners and church leaders relate to each other on a day to day basis. Then a crisis hits! The shopping centre burns down and the church is left to respond to a community that mourns the loss of a familiar “neighbourhood.”
It’s over two years since it happened to us and the story is told earlier on this blog (see also the stories that follow). Now it’s happened to the church where my nephew, Mark Riessen, leads ministry. The church has vacated its offices making them available as a shop front for the use of several service providers whose premises were badly smoke damaged. It’s a good news story hitting the front page of their local paper (go to March 9th edition).
Fires are devastating and one wonders what good can come from them. The trauma experienced by those concerned are answered, however, by acts of generosity and goodwill that might otherwise remain hidden. It is not the job of the church to provide these, but to recognise, stimulate, coax and encourage – maybe with a bit of modelling. The community at large discovers what is precious and what makes it a community.

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