One of the questions I'm most often asked is, "When you say North Oshawa, what do you mean?"
Some people hear "North Oshawa" and picture the new, large, beautiful homes being built over acres and acres of land on the north end.
Many people hear "North Oshawa" and think of the campus that's shared by both the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College. In fact, the most common misconception I hear of this new community of faith is that it is (or will be) a new campus ministry - which isn't actually the case.
And relatively few people hear North Oshawa and picture high-rise apartment buildings full of families under serious financial pressure, or facing a variety of issues of poverty, drug use, and desperation. But, in reality, that's there, too.
My family and I are coming up on six months of living in Oshawa, and I've very intentionally used these six months - and likely more months to come - as a season of listening and learning. Hearing stories and meeting people and exploring this new city of mine. And what I've been learning is that North Oshawa encompasses all of these things. There's the very suburban-feeling new development on the north end of the city, right across the street from the large and growing UOIT and Durham College campus, and there are also a couple of pockets of poverty, which are consistently forgotten and buried under all the excitement of the growth happening in Oshawa.
All these things are true of North Oshawa. When I think about it, I think of these three distinct demographics as three different circles. And when I picture what I want our new church to be, it's in the point where those circles meet - bringing together the diversity of Oshawa into a beautiful community of grace.
I want our church to be accessible to all three circles, on some level. Especially when I dream about a community space where friends and neighbours can easily and meaningfully connect, I dream about it as a space where all our neighbours in North Oshawa have access and can engage in meaningful and grace-filled community. When I picture our community of faith gathering for worship, it's a diverse and beautiful community, bringing together people from all three circles in North Oshawa.
It's like a Venn diagram in my mind. There are three circles - the new homes, the campus, and the pockets of poverty - and then where they meet, that's Ecclesia.
That's us. Together.
So, no, I'm not working on a campus ministry. I'm not creating a church that caters exclusively to the middle-to-upper-class residents in the new developments on the north end. And I'm not going to forget the pockets of poverty and isolation in the middle.
And, yes, you are absolutely invited to join in God's mission here in North Oshawa!