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Restore Our Core

There’s so much talk in exercise circles about our CORE. It’s that set of oft-neglected midriff muscles that are responsible for holding our innards together, stabilizing our bodies, and making sure that shovelling snow once doesn’t signal an entire winter of low back pain and ice packs.Cleaning Selkirk back lane

Cities have cores too. And like our bodies, a city’s core can become neglected, creating an unhealthy doughnut hole in the city’s centre, and generating a vast array of chronic social ills. You don’t have to be a city planner to know that when our core suffers, the whole city suffers.

Winnipeg is a city like that. Over the years, our core area has suffered neglect, and has ultimately become a kind of wilderness that one drives through from one suburb to the other, making sure the windows are rolled up and the doors are locked. We all know that something must be done to get our core back in shape, but whose responsibility is it? It’s about here that the fingers start pointing.

Happily, there are Christian ministries and community service organizations that skip the finger-pointing part and just do something about it. They have been working steadily and thanklessly in Winnipeg’s core for years and, understandably, they could use some encouragement.Cutting the lawn

Well, some encouragement came on May 29th and 30th with “Restore Our Core”. Interestingly enough, “Restore Our Core” was the brainchild of none other than our city’s police chief Devon Clunis. Chief Clunis, who himself grew up in Winnipeg’s core area, envisioned a grassroots restorative gesture involving a city street in the Core – Selkirk Avenue – and hundreds of volunteers from the Winnipeg Police Service, city Churches and ministries, and service organizations, cooperating to accomplish one mission: beautify Selkirk Avenue from stem to stern, that is, from Main to Arlington.

Actually, it was a crazy idea. First, it had never been done before. Second, it had never been done before on that scale. Third, it had never been done before with police officers, Church congregations, inner city ministries and other service organizations working together. The logistical challenges alone were enough to deep six the project.Nicole

But we did it. I was there, and it was a good thing, because I may not have believed it if I had only heard about it second hand. A hearty group of volunteers from WECC and a host of other Churches were there to represent the Church in Winnipeg. On the Friday, we worked hard to clean the back lane on our designated block of Selkirk Avenue, and on the Saturday, another team from our Church prepared and painted a whole building! Other teams from other Churches, mixed with police officers and others, worked in similar fashion, and by Saturday afternoon, Selkirk Avenue looked pretty shiny. People from the neighbourhood came out of their homes and businesses to thank and encourage us, and some cleaning teams even got a chance to pray with people. All in all, our Core experienced a touch of restoration, and those in it for the long haul were blessed and encouraged by the helping hand.On the ladder

Of course, Restore Our Core was only a start. But we’ve got to start somewhere. And having Churches led by pastors with work boots and brooms lockng arms with police officers, led by a chief with jeans and a shovel, isn’t a bad place to begin. Hopefully this effort will generate many other new and healthy connections with our core.

The next day, my own core was a little sore, but it was more than compensated for by the way Selkirk Avenue sparkled on Sunday, along with the knowledge that we all got together did something crazy to help make it that way.

God loves Winnipeg, and it was a privilege to bring that message in a unique way to our city’s core.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob

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