Grace’s Story…

When we think of warm fresh-baked bread right out of the oven, we often find ourselves thinking of home. At Sanctuary, we are very intentional about trying to create a sense of home together. We are blessed every week to have one of our friends bake a dozen loaves of bread for our meal. But she always leaves the last few loaves uncooked, so that when we get to the church we can put them in the oven, and before long the whole building smells like home.

One Monday, she and her son came to our drop-in with all the ingredients and invited our friends to bake bread withthem. It was an incredible time of laughing and learning and just being together. Another friend of ours, Grace, also loves to bake bread, and so we invited her to join us in the kitchen. It was hard to understand when she said, “I don’t want to.” However, a few days later, Grace shared with us that it was not that she didn’t want to bake with us, but that she was afraid her emotions might get the best of her. And then she began to share… This is Grace’s story.

“Fresh-baked bread makes me think of the smell of bread going through my home as a child. I grew up making bread. I learned when I was twelve years old. My mother taught me without a recipe – just a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that. Bread-making throughout my childhood was very important to me because of how it made me feel. I came from a dysfunctional and abusive home. There were problems with my father. He dominated the household and he was hurtful towards me. Because of the way that I was born, I wasn’t accepted by my father and my six siblings, so the bread-making with my mom was healing for me.

Because of different problems I had, I could not always go to school. Those were special times with my mom when my siblings were all in school and my dad was away. We’d go on walks together and she taught me to find wild mint and berries, but most often, when it was just the two of us, we baked together. She taught me how to make bread, pies, and pastries, and I taught her to make donuts. I’d help her mix the flour and yeast, and I helped knead the dough. It was important that I did it withher, standing beside her, both of us together, mixing and kneading the bread.

My father always told me I was ‘no good’, but when I stood beside my mom making bread with her, I felt like I was the most special person in the world. She didn’t really use words a lot to tell me how she felt about me (she was a very quiet person), but I knew she loved me during that time together. My father and my siblings made me feel like I didn’t belong, but when I made bread with my mom, I felt like I belonged and was safe.

When my mom got sick, I took over the bread-making for the whole family. Now she’s gone and I miss her like crazy. People tell me I take after her and that makes me really proud. I love remembering the bread-making with her–those are great memories. Sometimes even now, when I’m struggling with difficult emotions, the memory of bread-making is a safe haven for me.

When I think of the smell of fresh-baked bread, it brings to mind sunshine, warm days, and my own three children, now grown-up, and how I’ve passed onto them my experience of baking bread, with a dollop of this and a pinch of that. Eating the bread at Sanctuary drop-ins each week makes me think of my family and of home. I think that both fresh bread and bread-making is very important for the people in the Sanctuary community, because it creates feelings of acceptance and belonging. For someone who never grew up with fresh bread or anything baked, they might come here and eat fresh bread with their friends, and this is wonderful, because it gives them a sense of family they might not otherwise have. Making and eating bread together can help us feel a part of something, and also new friendships can happen. There is just something about the bread that makes us feel at home.”

Photos from our day of breadmaking!


Sanctuary Karaoke Celebration!

On Sunday, January 8th, Sanctuary hosted a ginormous celebration!  We had a lot of reasons to celebrate:

  • Sanctuary is officially 1 year old
  • We've finally moved back with First Christian Reformed Church to their wonderfully renovated new-old building on Talbot Street
  • We received our official church status and charitable registration

And… what better way to celebrate than to have a karaoke contest?  So we brought in the band 17 Watts, and they put on a magnificent show for us.  Then we had ten contestants compete on a karaoke sing-off.  The top two contestants went on to front the band and sing head-to-head to finally determine our winner!

We danced, we sang, we all had way too much to eat, and we all owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the evening.

Stay tuned for our next community celebration…

Holiday Hours and Locations

Your all invited to join us over the holiday season as we maintain all of our regular hours, plus a few extras!  However, please be aware of the changes in location.

Christmas Day ( Sunday, Dec 25)

Full Christmas Dinner, 2:30pm @ 513 Talbot Street

Special Christmas Worship Service, 6pm @ 513 Talbot Street

Boxing Day (Monday, Dec 26)

Lunch Drop-in, 11am-2pm @ 75 Blckfriars Street

Wednesday, Dec 28

Drop-in and Community Meal, 3-6:30pm @ 75 Blackfriars Street

New Years Day (Sunday, Jan 1)

Worship Service, 6pm @ 513 Talbot Street

Monday, January 2

Lunch Drop-in and Bible Study, 11am-3pm @ 513 Talbot Street

Wednesday, January 4

Drop-in and Community Meal, 3-8:30pm @ 513 Talbot Street

Sunday, Jan 8

Special Celebratory Worship Service 6-7pm @ 513 Talbot Street.  The service will be followed by a party to celebrate!  Our first full year of ministry as Sanctuary London.  Five years of partnership with First CRC.  The amazing renovation of First's building.  And, the receipt of our official charitable status.  Celebrate with us with karaoke music, a wild rock band, and other special guests!

All of our regular scheduled programs following these dates will be held at 513 Talbot Street.

Thanksgiving, A Retreat, and A Royal Ball!

It's almost Thanksgiving weekend, and here at Sanctuary London, we have SO MUCH to be thankful for!

It's been a couple of busy weeks for the Sanctuary community here in London.  On Wednesday, October 5th we had our huge Thanksgiving feast with all the fixin's.  Before opening with prayer, our friends were asked to share a few things that they were thankful for.  The response was overwhelming!  After over five minutes of "I'm thankful for this…" and I’m thankful for that…" we actually had to cut people off to prevent the food from getting too cold!  All of our meat for the night (turkey AND chicken!) was donated, and there was plenty of food to spare, so we sent it home with our friends after all 90+ people were full to the brim!

On September 23rd a group of 27 of the people from our core community embarked on a three-day retreat to a magnificent summerhouse on Lake Erie.  It was an opportunity not just to get away and relax and fellowship, but also to study scripture and grow spiritually together.  There were four very focused sessions in which together we learned about four different "Portraits of Jesus" from the gospels. 

On Saturday night we studied the crucifixion of our Messiah.  Two dramatic readings were shared, the first from the perspective of Barabbas, who, like us fully deserved to be punished for the crimes he committed.  The second story was from the perspective of Simon of Cyrene.  Simon was forced to literally carry the cross for Jesus to the place where He was to be crucified.  In Mark 8: 34-38, Jesus says to each one of us today, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me".  Can you see yourself in both of these men’s' shoes?  Christ took yours and my place on the cross.  But he also asks for us to respond by taking up our own crosses and follow Him.  So, after these two stories were shared, each person at the retreat was given the opportunity to light a candle and place it on the cross (we made) to symbolically lay our pain, condemnation, struggles and guilt at the foot of the cross, and in community, pick up the comfort, joy, responsibility, peace and changes that come with following our Savior.  It was an incredible experience and many of our friends shared some pretty amazing stories not only of the pain in their lives, but also about how God is working in their hearts to bring about healing.

We would like to send out a huge thank you to the Postma family for welcoming us into your home, and providing a beautiful location for this retreat!

On October 1st Sanctuary hosted its first Royal Ball.  It was an incredible opportunity for the greater Sanctuary community to come together and celebrate as one body.  After opening with delicious desserts, Greg Paul, founder of Sanctuary Toronto, shared some very encouraging words with us, and then…  What better way to celebrate than by dancing for our King?  Ballroom Breeze taught a quick dance lesson and then the entire community rose to our feet and danced the rest of the night away!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Ball, and also to those who couldn't make it but sent in donations to help with the costs of the evening.  We would also like to thank John Sloan who took on the role of organizing the event.  What an amazing night!

Welcome to Sanctuary London

Dear friends of Sanctuary,

It has certainly been an exciting and eventful first few months since we launched Sanctuary on January 1st 2011, right here in London!

Our new Monday morning drop-in has been an incredible encouragement for us.  We have a great group of about 15-30 people coming out each Monday, many whom we have never had at any of our other drop-ins before.  It's been really fun to arrive with ingredients at 11am, and together with our friends from the street, put the food together and eat and chat and play games for the next three hours.  We've incorporated the arts into our drop-ins on Monday mornings as well, and that seems to have really taken off!  Thanks so much to each one of you who has played a role in helping this to come together.

Again thank you for your encouragement and for your prayers.  Many blessings to you all,

Darryl Reckman
Sanctuary London